I'm excited about attending the 20th annual Flathead River Writers Conference this weekend (Oct 2-3) in Kalispell, Montana. I had a conflict and couldn't attend last year. When I've attended in the past, I've always enjoyed meeting new people, learning new "tricks of the trade," and storing up enough enthusiasm to keep writing for another 11 or 12 months.
I was recently involved in a discussion thread for the Writers Etc group (on Facebook) and was asked for advice on what to do at a conference. I surprise myself (and everybody else, no doubt) by coming up with something fairly coherent, which is as follows:
Try to develop a 2-3 sentence "elevator pitch" in case you get some time with an agent or editor, for example at lunch or in a workshop, and if it's appropriate to mention what you're working on. If time allows, ask them how you could improve your pitch. This can be a good way to create a favorable impression.
Conferences are great for making contacts, but don't try to make a deal then and there. After you get home, mail or email a nice letter saying how nice it was to meet him/her at ABC writers conference and you appreciated their guidance on your pitch for "XYZ" work in progress. Then ask if you can send them your first few chapters.
Good luck and have fun.