I was one of those kids who bought into the DARE program more than others. So when I got to college, I was leery of the Jive Turkeys–our ultimate frisbee team–and their party-hearty ways. By the end of the year, I was an enthusiastic member of the team, and I’m glad that they convinced me to stick around. Because, believe it or not, learning to party well gives you a leg up that no class ever will.
Most conferences, whether they’re for professional development or fiction/comic/insert-your-favorite-media-appreciation events, have jam-packed schedules during the day. But the real convention doesn’t begin until night, when most people migrate to the bars or hotel rooms to party until both clock hands are pointing at single digits. And because there is (typically) another day full of can’t-miss programming ahead of you, it pays to have stamina.
The best thing I gained from my many late nights with the Jive Turkeys was the ability to pace myself. It’s very easy to wear yourself out at the beginning of the night, or to have too many drinks too early. Taking it easy at the beginning of the night gives you a chance to hang out with more people over a longer period of time. Also, the longer you last, the more likely you’ll be around for the more intimate conversations that happen after the party winds down.
When it comes to conventions, those conversations are often worth the sacrifice of sleep and sobriety. Whether you’re connecting with potential fans or people who might hire you, there are few better ways to connect with them than through a party. At parties, even wallflowers are more open to meeting new people. They wouldn’t be there otherwise. One conversation could lead to a career-changing assignment or a speaking invitation at another event. In my line of work, both for my day job and my dream job, it pays to party.
I’m sure not every group of professionals or fans is as party-driven as the groups I’m involved in. There is truth to the stereotype that writers and alcohol go hand in hand. But even if you don’t drink, being able to start and carry on meaningful conversations at a party is an indispensable skill.
If I hadn’t joined the Jive Turkeys, I may have picked up this skill set somewhere else. They certainly weren’t the only folks I partied with in college (and, ahem, they weren’t always the most responsible bunch when it came to alcohol consumption). But I don’t think I would be as good at networking as I am now if I hadn’t joined the team. And considering what my definition of good is, I shudder to think what breed of awkward troll I would be if I hadn’t joined the team. My college partying, as strange as it seems, has benefited me just as much as my coursework.
So thanks Jive, and party on.