In the last post I talked about ways to improve your writing even if you can't attend a writer's conference (yet!). I focused on reading in that post. This post will talk about networking. After all, that's one of the big perks of attending a real-life, in-person conference.
There are many ways to build a professional network without the pricetag or inconvenience of a conference. The most obvious first step is social networking. Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger are all great places to start. You must interact in order to build relationships, though. That means posting but also commenting on the posts of others. The point is to get to know them. Remember, though, not to let it become a time waster. At a conference you would spend only a fraction of your time networking. The same rule must apply to online networking. (By the way, you can find me on FB and Twitter here!)
Another great online networking tool is the online writer's conference. These are often free. The first two that come to mind are the WriteOnCon and So You Think You Can Write conferences put on in August and September. They have been extremely helpful to me and my writing, and you can meet other authors, agents, and editors while there. The biggest bonus? You can do it from your living room. A great place to learn about other online conferences is Twitter.
Last of all is the online writer's forum. A few I love are Absolute Write, the Institute of Children's Lietrature Writer's Retreat, and the Verla Kay Blueboards. I have learned so much from the wonderful friends I've made there.
So power up that computer and get to building your network. And who knows? Maybe when you do get to attend a real-life, in-person conference you can meet up with a cyber buddy or two!