So, it's been a few years since I went to BlogHer.
Four years, to be exact. Since I'm out of touch with how to make the most of the world's largest blogging conference for women, I turned to - where else - a Facebook group.
But, this isn't just any Facebook group.
This is a community of women whom I admire because they truly are professional bloggers.
Hugs and thanks to each and every one of them for taking the time to make this post better. Have a tip you'd like to share? The comments section is all yours.
My best tip is to have a plan and a tribe. BlogHer can be overwhelming. If you get together with a group of people (in my case my roomies), map out the entire conference and plan out who is going where, when it can seem less overwhelming. Everyone cannot attend (or get in to) every session that they want to. If you are working together with a group, you can divide up session and swap out notes later on.
I love Jen's idea of swapping notes. Even if you're in the same session, your take is probably different than your friend's. And, if you're like me you'll probably miss a few important takeaways because you're so busy tweeting - or texting.
Pack a lot of business cards (tailored to BlogHer if you're THAT organized) and then pack some more. Jot down notes on the cards you receive because there's no way you can remember everyone you meet at the conference.
I'm thinking about 300 cards sounds right. Maybe 500? If you're in Chicago, you can catch Nancy on WGN. Wait . . . WGN is nationwide. Nancy is one of my favorite newscasters ever and she's so much fun in person.
My best tip is to know what your goal is before you get to BlogHer. [Editor's Note: AMEN!!!] Why are you attending? What do you want to learn? Then make sure that you spend your time doing that. BlogHer is so big and so diverse that it's easy to get distracted from your goals and then walk away not having achieved what you set out to do. Have a follow up plan in place for when you get home, too, and then act on it to ensure you maximize the time and money you spent on BlogHer.
Michelle is so right on this one. Without a game plan, BlogHer can quickly become a blur. Even having a one word theme like content or connect can help you focus. When I flew out to BlogHer in San Francisco, I packed at least two outfits for every day [yes, I wore them all], attempted to attend every possible session, hung out getting to know folks until the wee hours. and almost collapsed on the shuttle back to the airport. That's why I wish I would have read Michelle's second suggestion back then . . .
Or my other one: Breathe. Breathe before, during, and after BlogHer. It's far too easy to get caught up in a competition game of who is biggest, who is best, who gets the most "stuff" when that isn't what BlogHer is about. You and your blog exist for a reason, and you need to remember why you started it and why you write it. Just like in the rest of your life, someone will always have just a little more X than you, but that's ok. Focus on who you are, what you have, and what you do. That's where your happiness will come from, and that's what will keep BlogHer and all it's massiveness in perspective.
Emphasis is mine, but if you only read those two sentences, you'll be more grounded and you'll be better at being your best.
1) WEAR COMFY SHOES. Nobody thinks blisters are cute. [Thanks Tony - somebody had to say it.]
2.) Business cards are must...with ALL of your contact info included. (I always went through ALL of my cards when I got home...you wouldn't believe how many did not include twitter handles or websites. I can't follow you if all you give is an email and a phone number.) <===== MUST READ
3.) Have an open mind to meeting new people and experiencing new opportunities...even if it makes you uncomfortably step outside of your box. Don't wait for opps to come to you...go to THEM. Overall...just be yourself, have confidence and ENJOY!
If you can't think of anything to say to start a conversation, offer a compliment.
Be at your best to represent your brand/blog when meeting with sponsors and other bloggers. Be courteous to others. Be respectful and mindful when attending events. But best of all, have fun and soak in the good company of other blogger friends.
MJ is a genius at all of this. If you haven't met her yet, make it a priority.
While comfy shoes and having a tribe are truly huge, and honestly my typical advice, I think from seeing so many questions from newbies about what events are best etc my biggest tip is...Spend time figuring out what your purpose is in going? Everyone has a different reason for going and that's fine. But then that means you can't just ask the person to the left and the right of you...'where should I go? who should I talk to?' because what's right for them isn't right for you. Find a fellow blogger and really talk out what you want from BlogHer and then let THAT lead your decisions.
I love Lisa's last sentence. Back in 2006 when I wanted to fly away to attend my first Internet marketing conference, I talked to my husband about why I wanted to go. At first, neither he nor I really got why it made that much sense. Then I talked to a friend who was also interested in going. We strategized together and that's how I came up with idea to produce a virtual PR event. When I got there, I found the speakers.
Schedule yourself so you don't become overwhelmed.
Lisa's last words are simple, but so important. Especially since this year we'll be shuttling back and forth between McCormick Place and the Sheraton. Don't forget to allow time to get dressed, update your networks, phone home and chill. It's okay to skip a session to hang out with friends or put your feet up in a lounge somewhere. This is your conference so make the most of it!!
BlogHer Chicago Review
Okay, so this video is from the last Chicago BlogHer, but it gives you a preview of what to expect. Thanks to my then 14 year old for being my stagehand.
And, one more thanks - to Ruth Wagner of CMP.LY for writing a guest post about the latest FTC disclosure guidelines for bloggers and brands.
Will you be at BlogHer? Add your contact information - twitter, URL and name - in the comments section so we can all follow you.