Yup, I’m a blogger, and a chick, so I’ll be heading to NYC with 4500 others like me next month. I’m in a few facebook groups for the event and have to say, some of the stuff I’m reading is disturbing me. I get it, we all love exclusive party invites and SWAG (“stuff we all get” for you conference newbies) but I really hope the actual conference won’t be as intense as these groups have been.
This will be my 3rd BlogHer and 4th conference this year. Total how many have I attended over the past few years? Easily over 20. Why do I keep going? I treat this like a business. I mean, with an LLC and my trademark in process, I better right?! These conferences are in part getting to see friends, new and old, and chat with brands, but for me, it’s really about the learning, the networking, the connecting to someone on a more personal level. And that, my friends, is very hard to do at BlogHer unless you are prepared.
I’ve found some great tips and advice across the web recently. One of my favorites being from Fadra Nally, owner and writer for SocialDialect.com Dear BlogHer Sponsors, They don’t speak for me. A wonderful post about what not to do at a conference of this magnitude.
Julie from Julieverse.com has a great vlog (that’s video blog for those of you who are new to this) about Conference Tips.
I have a few tips for newbies and experienced bloggers alike.
1. Don’t be a swag hag. No really. Don’t. Not only does it make you look unprofessional, did you really need to spend $1k+ to go to BlogHer to steal coupons and stress balls? Unless your blog is “How to steal coupons and stressballs at a conference” don’t do it.
2. Don’t try to go to every party you get invited to. If you are going for just the free stuff… see #1. If you are going because you got a super exclusive invite, really think and plan ahead. Is this party going to make you money down the line? Are the brands hosting ones you truly believe in and would write about regardless of the party? If you answered yes to the last 2, by all means, head out the door, catch a cab and go! If not, you might want to rethink your strategy.
3. Along the same lines, don’t stress yourself out scheduling multiple offsite parties all within minutes of each other. I’ve seen people with strict schedules and google maps and all sorts of crazy notions of trying to attend off-site parties at 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, 7:30pm and 8pm all hoping to just show up, grab swag and leave (again please see #1 if you have made this your goal). It’s okay if you miss one party. Does missing that party affect your family? Your bank account? Your blog? If not, then don’t stress.
4. If you are “skipping” parties after RSVPing, please let the host know as they have limited spots and most have wait lists. It’s common courtesy to let someone else have a spot if you are declining one.
5. The “Official” BlogHer parties are amazing. Skip a few of the offsites and really try to hit up the “Come as you are” and SparkleCorn parties. Trust me. They will be just as fun and everyone with a conference pass is invited. AND. It’s right there in the hotel. No cabs needed.
5. Expo Hall 101, true for any conference, you will think you want to try to hit every booth. Don’t stress about this either! The first year I was so overwhelmed I went to a ton of brands/vendors that I had no intention of working with. Learn from my mistake. The 2nd year I got a map of the expo hall and did a quick lap either the night before if they have a cocktail reception in the Expo, or first thing in the morning. I marked who were my “must meet” and then “like to meet” and then “skip”. (knowing me, yes, it was color coded and pretty too ) This will really help you stay focused so you aren’t pulled in to talk to one brand when really all you wanted was the free moisturizer and shampoo (Darn you Philosophy! You get me every time!). Oh, and on that note, loved both!
7. Don’t feel obligated to write about every product you received at BlogHer as part of the “swag”. I chose to write about the amazing Remington flat iron I got at the Getting Gorgeous event, because I truly loved it. It was 6 months after BlogHer ended and I did get an email from the rep thanking me for writing about it. So yes, brands are watching, but unless it’s something I would right about sans freebie, it doesn’t make it on my blog.
8. Standing in line for a free $9 item is silly. There. I said it. Yes, Dr. Scholl’s is amazing. Yes, I buy them now 95% because of their booth at BlogHer last year, but this year I’m prepared. The lines were insane for a free pair of foldable flats or gel inserts. I went to Target today and you know what I did?? I BOUGHT them. Yes, bought. My time (and comfort) is well worth actually supporting the brands I love so $20 later, I have gel inserts, foldable flats and heel slips. I don’t want to wait in line and Dr. Scholl’s now knows I must love them if I write about this a year later AND continue to purchase their product.
9. Find down time. It is overwhelming. I’m not going to lie. You will be going like the Energizer bunny from 7 (or earlier) until midnight (or later). Rinse. Lather. Repeat for 5 days. Sneak up to your room between sessions (you know, those things they schedule to teach you amazing things you didn’t know, things that inspire you to remember why you started blogging in the first place and how to reach your full potential). Take a few minutes before heading out to dinner or even just a 5 minute breather before lunch. A quick power-down will relax you and re-energize you to take on the next event, whatever that may be.
10. You are not a frat boy. Please don’t drink like one. Remember that not only is this a business event. EVERY SINGLE PERSON around you has a phone, camera and access to the twitters. One wrong move and the interwebs will know if you are the one with a hangover, or wearing your tutu on your head (well after SparkleCorn is done).
Okay, stepping off my soapbox. With careful planning, writing your goals out ahead of time and some great friends to surround yourself with, BlogHer can be both a fun and profitable event for you.