Vacuumed up from the comments on an earlier post was a link to Michelle's blog. You have to click on the writing section at the left, then scroll down to the 8/30 post, but she has some good, valuable and (most important to Miss Snark) humorous comments on writing conferences and benefits thereof.
From her post:
The best thing you can do at a conference, whether you have a novel ready to pitch or not, is network, network, network.
It’s amazing to me how many people can’t seem to do this. I know we’re all writers and more used to living inside our heads, but you’d think we’d be able to manage a simple, ‘Hello how are you? Do you have a card?’.
And do you have a card? Surprisingly few people do.
Business cards are essential to networking. They enable people to contact you after the conference so you can continue to develop a relationship.
Why should you care? Why network with the unpublished masses?
First, because they are your graduating class, your peers. You are rubbing elbows with the authors of tomorrow and who doesn’t need a few published authors in their corner? So be nice to everyone. Hold doors open, offer your seat, offer your assistance whether it’s helping someone with their pitch or sharing your bottle of Motrin, and smile.
Secondly, all the writers I currently exchange crits with I met at conferences and, to date, they have been the best crit partners I have ever worked with. We’re even looking at putting together our own writers retreat complete with booze and hot tub. When we’re not trying to coordinate our drinking and writing, we exchange information on markets, agents, and publishers.
Miss Snark's comments about writing conferences completely missed the concept of the writers getting to know each other. Miss Snark is self absorbed, it's true, but she recognizes her omissions on occasion. This is one of them.