And it's really simple: be ready for opportunity to strike.
Some, ok many, years ago, Madonna was an unknown singer in New York. She wanted to be better known, have a record deal, have people hire her to sing. She made some demo tapes. They weren't that great, but they were at least actual demo tapes. And she carried them with her everywhere she went. Everywhere. To the bodega. To art parties. To clubs. Everywhere. She was ready if she met someone who could help her.
She was ready for opportunity to knock.
I was reminded of that this weekend.
Almost every single time I said "that sounds interesting, do you have pages?" the answer was no.
I know writing conferences, and conference organizers are VERY sensitive to agents being inundated with unrequested pages. I know they say "don't expect to give pages to an agent in a pitch session".
That's not wrong, and I'm not saying you should expect all agents to ask for pages. I'm not saying you should EVER say "do you want to see pages" and you should never slide pages under the agent's hotel room door or bathroom stall door (all those have happened so I've heard.)
What I'm saying is to be ready if one does. Carry your pages with you in your car, or have them in your hotel room, or carry the first chapter in your purse. Be ready.
I asked 56 people for pages this weekend. 5 were ready, and those were the people who attended a workshop on how to craft their pitch. I read and critiqued their pages. It wasn't on the conference schedule. It wasn't planned. It just happened. They were ready. Are you?