(I wonder how the Mayans felt about slight exaggerations & mom martyrs? Ahem.)
Anywhoo, last weekend I was all excited to attend my very first blog conference, convinced as I was that I'd meet fabulous people and learn Everything There Is to Know About Good Blogging. Some of that happened, but that aforementioned sick kid and my own ineptitude conspired to make it quite a bit different than I'd expected.
I ended up only being able to attend one day of the conference, alas, but I made enough blunders in that day to share here so you can avoid my fate. Turns out a blog conference is a lot like any old other conference I've been to, past stuffy lawyer get-togethers included, and I should have approached this in the way I would have back in ye olden days of law & much boredom.
Tips for How Not to Attend a Conference
Don't Practice Networking
This may sound silly to the extroverts in the audience, but this recovering introvert learned that my small talk skillz need frequent exercise lest they abandon me when most needed, like, uh, last Saturday. I'll never be a schmoozing star, but in the past PK ("pre-kid") I did enough professional and social events to feel more comfortable in a room full of people I don't know.
There's a lot of down time at a conference, not to mention opportunities to interact one-on-one with some of the expert speakers - or would be, that is, if one weren't busy pretending to send a text message because one is too shy to approach anyone in a room full of strangers. You know the "one". Um.
Don't Have a Game Plan
I signed up for this conference because it sounded fun and was near-literally in my backyard - that's well and good, but I missed the chance to get some good mentoring and connect with fellow attendees by not having a clearer goal for what I hoped to accomplish there.
I don't mean anything douchetacular here like "building my BRAND" (unless narcissism + too much time at Nordstrom = "brand"), but was I looking to connect with sponsors? Figure out how I feel about sponsored stuff to begin with? Look into freelance writing opportunities? Meet fellow bloggers? Hone my craft? Yes. No. Maybe? I dunno.
This mattered when I got the chance to interact with some magazine / site editor types - I quickly lost their interest when I couldn't sum what my writing is about and what my goals were in attending this shindig. On a social level, I couldn't connect as well with other bloggers because, absent whipping out my iPad and shouting, "Here, read this!", I don't have a good answer to what my writing
(For anyone attending one of these, here's a helpful post about how to get your game plan together - which I read after attending this, of course. Of course).
Don't Take Photos
. . . after promising my legions of fans - all three of you - that I would faithfully document the event, that is. Between the sick toddler and the terror of being in a room of style bloggers - I've not experienced that level of head-to-toe once over we women do since junior high - I got seriously camera shy, with a few exceptions:
|Recognize anyone here? I was thrilled to meet this group of lovelies- and these costumes. (Photo credit and copyright to Airstream Photobooth)|
While it's better to live an event than spend your entire time documenting it, I'm the girl who attended a freaking social media conference and then forgot to social media it. Oy.
Three Things I Accidentally Got Right
I'm happy I went to something this close to home for my first blog outing & first schmoozing in a long while. I was able to pick and choose events to attend because I could just go home in between sessions, which helped me not feel too overwhelmed (or would have, had Master P not fallen ill).
That being said, the next time I will venture further afield and to a blog conference more in my writing area - I have neither the talent nor the Chanel bag budget to keep up with true fashion bloggers, for starters. In keeping with my recovering introvert status, I actually get more out of a conference when I'm forced into attending all of the events - with repeat exposure I can wear people down into pretending to like me.
Connect with One or Two People Meaningfully (thanks, Ms. Privilege, for this tip)
See that photo above? I was fan-girl levels of thrilled to meet some of my favorite bloggers at this thing and shamelessly tag along with them. That was worth the price of admittance alone.
It's a minor point but, yes, business cards - even though the only "business" I've really done here to date is the business of talking, shopping, and whining too much. I'm glad I overcame my suspicions about this one, because these things were being exchanged like candy at this event. I'm happy I indulged my inner paper snob and sprung for a good design and paper weight too, since it wasn't only my shoes getting the Side Eye at this event.
Any questions on how you too can totally hose up a conference Pretty style? Offers to send me restorative martinis?