If you are not a blogger and couldn’t care LESS about blogging conferences (which you imagine are pretty much like Star Trek conventions without the
awesome dorky costumes)(you’re wrong, by the way, blogging conferences are MUCH more uncool than Star Trek conventions) feel free to skip this one. I’ll have more ginger baby pictures up in an hour or two.
I started writing this post days after coming back from BlogHer’11 in San Diego, when the whole experience was still fresh. I added to it for a few weeks as I gained some perspective and finished it up just yesterday when I was talking to some of the friends I made last year. Since I’ve only been to one BlogHer I am by no means an expert, but I hunted down and read every single one of these posts I could find last year so I thought I’d throw my
hat peacock feather fascinator in the ring.
Pre- and At BlogHer Advice
1. The fun actually starts long before the conference. Last year, almost everyone I knew got into town on Wednesday night, so they had all of Thursday to hang out and/or attend Pathfinder Day. I didn’t want to leave my nursing baby for an extra day so I skipped it – and regretted it (well, not the part about missing the baby, the part about missing the fun). I’m going to make sure I’m in NYC for a long time.
2. Don’t be afraid to call your friends. Even the ones you previously only talked to online. I did a lot of texting and tweeting and Belugaing (a free app that’s like texting), but would miss people because of lag time and I ended up being alone more than I wanted to. But the women who were brave enough to just dial a number and say “Hey, where you at?” met up with their posses much faster.
3. 200 business cards is too many. I handed out a LOT, even to my friends, just because my cards were super cute but I still came home with at least half of them, even after dropping a bunch in bowls for giveaways.
4. Nobody cared what I was wearing. I spent tons and tons of time worrying about it but in the end all that mattered was having comfortable shoes. If you’re a fashion blogger, you’re already good at wearing cool clothes. If you’re anyone else, just wear clothes.
5. Don’t commit to things that will keep you away from your friends for too long. Sure, private parties and invites and appointments and swag suites are AWESOME, but your time is precious and if no one you came to BlogHer to see is invited to your super secret event you’ll be there alone. One of my roommates last year went to a private party that was incredibly cool but took place on an island after a boat ride and she missed a ton of fun (SPARKLECORN) because she was there.
6. Put away your phone. I had SUCH a hard time doing this, but my best conversations happened after my phone was dead and I was forced –FORCED I TELL YOU – to focus on the people I was actually with.
7. Send some emails. Start a Facebook group. G-chat. Really get to know the people you are hoping to hang out with. EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT, and if you let your social anxiety prevent you from talking to your friends’ faces through the internet it will be a lot worse when you try to do it in person.
8. The Expo Hall is a great way to connect with brands but it is not the ONLY way to connect with brands. A lot of companies send representatives to the actual conference, so it never hurts to chat with the strangers at your table. The first company to contact me after BlogHer with actual stuff I was actually interested in using was because I put on my best brave and friendly face and sat with strangers during lunch.
9. Come up with a brief summary of your blog so that when people ask what you blog about you don’t say “Oh just my kids and stuff”. Sometime this is called an elevator pitch, but that name totally put me off. I thought “Naaaah, I’m not going to pitch my blog to everyone I meet! Imma just be ME”. I somehow forgot the ME the people (might) know IS my blog – and the ME brand representatives and sponsors want to get to know is my blog too. Since I’m slightly awkward in person (SHOCKING I KNOW) I’m going to plan ahead a little better this year.
10. Have a good time. Let your hair down. Dance on the stage with the DJ. But remember: falling down and throwing up are no fun, so don’t let “Open Bar” mean “Super Drunk”.
There will be a LOT of posts about BlogHer and what people thought and where they went and how they loved seeing their friends. Sometimes they will mention you. Sometimes they won’t. Don’t let their memory of the conference skew your memory. If you had the Best Time Ever then it WAS the best time ever. If you were a little disappointed then it was a little disappointing. Stay in contact with the people you met and enjoyed. Don’t feel obligated to add every single blogger to your Google Reader, but it might be worth adding them all to your Twitter for a few weeks to see if you have stuff in common (Pro tip: go through the pile of business cards you collected while waiting for your flight/train home and everyone is still fresh in your mind. It’s a great time to tweet “It was great to meet you!” so they can follow you back).
To be 100% honest with you, I spent way, way too much time last August worrying everyone I had met secretly hated me or thought I was fat and ugly and lame and boring. I’m sure I won’t be able to avoid some of those same feelings of doubt (hellooooo, I’m a blogger because I am insecure and awkward and you probably are too) but it’s a full year later and since most of the internet friends I met at BlogHer11 are STILL my internet friends, I’m assuming they don’t dislike me too much.
If you’re going to BlogHer in NYC and we aren’t already friends, let’s start now. Tweet me, email me, comment here, or just come find me (I’ll be hosting at the Serenity Suite on Saturday from 2pm-4pm) and we can go get some free humus or cottage cheese together. One month! I’m so excited!
p.s. If you’re looking for me this year, I’ll be wearing pretty much ALL the same clothes as I am in the above photos. Just to make it easy for you.