I really enjoyed my experience at BlogHer last weekend. It was a last minute decision which was scary for an introverted planner like myself. I didn’t have time to come up with business cards, fix my blog (it was in shambles from the transition from blogger to WP), and I had no time to mentally prepare myself.
Normally, I would have spent two weeks reading round-ups and advice from others in the BlogHer network and read their recommendations on what to expect and how to prepare. In a way, the suddenness was a good thing for me. I was forced to just jump in rather than slowly warm up to the idea of meeting a bunch of strangers and introducing myself. I learned more about myself last weekend than I did about others, which surprised me. I’m now a BlogHer veteran and I’m writing this recap more for myself than for anyone.
Bring business cards. I tried to bring cards, I really did. I had less than 48 hours notice and I looked at zazzle.com and vistaprint.com, but neither could turn cards around that quickly so I missed that chance. If didn’t know that Moo.com offers a service for card pickup at the conference (genius!) so if you aren’t as prepared as I am – there is that option. Another blogger I met had her cards made up at Staples. Apparently its an in-store printing option if you bring your design to them. The first day as soon as the keynote is done, there is a speed-dating networking where you meet a ton of people in just 15 minutes or so. Nothing like throwing a newbie (or an introvert) to the sharks – but it worked so well! After the first two or three (maybe five?) people, you aren’t scared of introducing yourself. Your little intro gets easier and you fall into a rhythm of who you are what your blog is. But — this speed-networking goes so fast, it will probably be impossible to keep track of who you meet (keep those cards safe!). This brings me to my next point…
Keep track of who you want to hang with. During the speed-networking, I met a woman where we just clicked conversationally. We didn’t want our networking to end but the line was pushing on. When it was over, I had lost track of her and couldn’t remember her name. Then I ran into her and she said she was happy to find me and hoped we could have lunch together. I was SO excited for that… but that was the last I saw of her. I looked for her the next day and a half of the conference and never saw her again. Her card (if she had one?) got mixed in with everyone else’s and so I’m still looking for her. SO – keep track of those you really want to connect with. BlogHer had a nice phone app where you could connect in-app with people to stay connected. Or, I could have made more definitive plans with her. Or I could have kept her card separated from all the others.
Take advantage of the resources given to you. Seriously. The BlogHer app. The Expo vendors with all the samples/freebies/giveaways. Remember those business cards I forgot? Well, Moo.com had a booth and had stacks of blank cards for those who ran out or were without cards – so I grabbed a big stack of them.
The serenity room. It’s a wonderful place. The morning of day 2 about half-way through the SEO seminar I was in, I got overwhelmed. Too many people, too much talking, too much everything. I needed some quiet time. I got up and found the room… there were couches, softer lights, and a nice, quiet, supportive environment. Twenty minutes and I was recharged!
Don’t be scared of judgement. I’m a sex blogger. My blog and my twitter are explicit. I was very nervous to tell all these seemingly vanilla mommy-bloggers about it. I worried I would be looked down upon for being “just a sex blogger” so I wouldn’t be taken seriously. I was really nervous for that speed-networking event, but I don’t think one person gave me a weird look, blinked at me oddly, or stammered surprise. There was surprise – but more of the “really? tell me more!” surprise. I think what really shocked me was the complete openness of the entire conference. I come from such a conservative background and live in such a conservative state/area that to being in such an accepting environment was a brilliant ray of sunshine for my life.
Find your peeps. Seriously. I found my sex blogger table… there were just 6 of us, I think. I met some amazing people I knew from twitter that I’d always wanted to meet. I got to sit in between two dominatrices when one accidentally riled up the other one… hilarity. I think our table stood out not only for the awesome, super colorful “SEX and relationship BLOGGER” sign that Queeriebradshaw wrote, but also because half of the table had hair so bright you could see it across the room. Hey, we don’t always blend in! But then I found other peeps. I found an LGBT table of bloggers and met MORE amazing people. I went to the Sex and Erotica writing workshop and met kindred spirits. Like in real life, I wandered among my people and found friends everywhere.