I don't know anyone in the New Zealand science fiction community.
Ok, I tell a wee fib. I know ONE person going to Au Contraire at the end of August. My buddy Paul Mannering, the fan Guest of Honour, is running a panel and doing a speech on Internet Audio Drama. I'll be hanging out at Paul's panel, helping him out.
But that's it. My network, because I'm just getting started in this game, is zilch.
In the past, I was so completely uninvested in my writing I didn't even KNOW New Zealand had its own SF&F con, let alone a community. The only time I contemplated going to a New Zealand con was a few years back when Michael Whelan was coming - I chucked the idea because he ended up not attending.
I've dabbled slightly in cons in the last couple of years, for different reasons - I ran a Vampire: The Eternal Struggle game table, helped out IPW (on a very basic level), and attended as a geek fan at Armageddon. But that's it.
Now, I have a different agenda. Previously, I was TERRIFIED at the idea of attending a con. I didn't know ANYONE. I had nothing to contribute. I'm a lousy networker - I have the social skills of a...not very social thing.
A few days ago, I was looking at the preliminary timetable for the Au Contraire weekend, and I started to get excited. Now that I am invested in my writing, there's a lot of fun and interesting panels, talks and people. In fact, there's so much I'm interested in, it's gonna be a juggle!
I'm still terrified - I don't feel I have anything to contribute to the writing community because I'm not yet a published writer. How does one engage in networking, without sounding like some try hard noob? "Uh yeah, I'm a writer, but I haven't had anything published yet, but I've been getting favourable personal rejections and came fourth in a contest...!" Yeah, my mum thinks I'm talented...
Yeah yeah, I know. Believe in myself etc etc.
I'm really not sure at all how to approach anyone, or what about. A while back I pointed out I was Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Type 2" con networker: "The excellent craftsperson who can’t network to save her life." I have to figure out how to engage in the community, maybe make a few new friends and business contacts. I really don't want to ask anything of anyone (yeah, totally gonna rock on up to Cheryl Morgan and demand to know why her Clarkesworld counterparts didn't accept my story...not). I'm just going to absorb. I am a wee sponge.
There's no one I'm going to drop to my knees and worship...but maybe that's a good thing. I'll be meeting these writers and publishing industry people as People first.
If you're going to Au Contraire, this con noob who gets nervous around strangers would appreciate a "Hi, how are ya". Give me a moment, I usually loosen up. I do like to partay, so maybe you'll see me doing my Magenta imitation at the partici...pation Rocky Horror, grooving on the dance floor Friday night, and I'm quite partial to a glass of Jack Daniels.
ETA: To be clear, this is not an invitation for nasty con trolls or scam artists. I am neither some booth babe, hanger on, nor stupid.