Great questions. I’m glad you threw them all out at once. The questions were how do I cultivate my relationships with different editors, where do I meet them, how do I contact them and stay in touch?
It’s my job as an agent to meet and develop relationships with many different editors at different houses. When I first started out a lot of those connections came from my boss. This was slow going since the agent I began my career working for didn’t have many romance connections. I started contacting editors via email and phone; I’d introduce myself, talk about what I was interested in and get to know them. We set up lunches (it’s all about the meals in this biz) and chatted about special projects we had, things we were interested, who we were, our plans for the future, etc. Now years later (long enough to see the industry shift around, myself included) I’ve developed relationships with editors who I’ve socialized with, sold to, seen at conferences, etc. I usually scan pub marketplace to see who is buying, but this isn’t always reliable since a lot of the new editors aren’t listed since they haven’t bought anything yet. My friends in the industry and I have a system where we give the name of at least two other agents an editor should meet or two other editors an agent should meet that we feel would really like their projects. In fact, when Nadia and I first became friends she told me to give Lauren McKenna at Pocket a call since she was looking for someone to write latina YA. I had Barb Ferrer (w/a Caridad Ferrer, but not to be confused with Caridad Pineiro) write a quick chapter and synopsis and Lauren bought two books. This kind of sharing of information makes everyone look good–you made a good contact and so did the editor.
I keep in touch by email and phone. Usually conferences are spent working with writers so there’s not much time to really say more than a quick hello before you’re whisked away by a conference coordinator or chair. If there is an editor who catches my eye or who someone recommends that I contact, I’ll usually email to introduce myself. This system works well for me.
Hope this provides insight into the peculiar world that is publishing.