Advice For Attending BlogHer’12
Attending BlogHer for the first time? If you’ve never been to this annual powerhouse conference but plan to make BlogHer’12 in New York City your first, I have some advice.
I attended BlogHer’11 in San Diego as a “newbie”, meaning… this was my first. So why, then, am I qualified to be handing out advice about attending when there are hundreds- maybe thousands- of female bloggers who’ve attended many years in a row?
I’m qualified because I was a newbie. And other soon-to-be “newbies” need to know what I know.
Do not go alone
If you take any advice I have to offer, take this piece first and do not- I say do not- plan on attending this conference on your own.
I have a long professional background, have attended many, many conferences in my lifetime and have never had any trepidation about attending any of them on my own. I can make conversation and friends just about anywhere I go and I figured BlogHer would be even easier. Wrong.
Seasoned BlogHer attendees do not- I repeat do not- go to this conference to meet new friends. They go to connect with their “tribes”, be courted by brands and receive free swag.
If you go to this conference alone, you will be alone.
I arrived in San Diego to spend the first day and night at BlogHer’11 by myself, while Noelle, my friend and business partner, would join me on the second day. No problem. I was looking forward to meeting even a handful of the 4,000 attendees that first day, but I soon realized that something was different from what I had ever experienced before.
I was suddenly back in the 10th grade and I was the girl with no friends. During registration and mingling afterward, I realized I needed to have predesignated my “tribes” (yes, you can call them cliques) in order to be included.
Even walking through the Expo that first day I noticed that brands are not as interested in engaging you if you are by yourself because they assume you have no tribe and therefore have no “reach”.
As I walked through the pool area back to my hotel that afternoon I passed a group of bloggers who actually snickered at me. It was a “psst-psst-giggle-snicker” all in one, because a “hello” would have been way too extraordinary.
That night I walked into the first BlogHer party called “The People’s Party” without a care in the world. “I’m sure to connect with other bloggers here”, I thought. After all, it’s a party… people, right? Wrong. After exactly one hour at the party I left without talking with a soul. So I walked down the beautiful boardwalk to my hotel with feelings I hadn’t experienced in- oh, let’s say- 20 years.
Thank goodness for the drunk businessmen at the Hyatt 44th Floor Lounge or otherwise I might think I was Bruce Willis from Sixth Sense.
After successfully shooing away said businessmen, I sat looking out over the ocean and enjoying a glass of wine which gave me some time to think… which brings me to my next piece of advice.
2. Have clear expectations about what you want to get out of the conference.
“And what do you think you will answer yourself, Pooh?”. – Piglet
Aaah, I love the wisdom and depth that comes from A.A. Milne quotes.
As I sat pondering wondering what in the hell I was doing here, my pragmatic mind asked myself, “What are your expectations for BlogHer? What do you want to take away from this experience?” Am I a “mommy blogger” who wants to connect with brands to “review” products in exchange for free product or money? No.
Or, am I a brand wanting to connect with mommy bloggers to talk about my product?
And what do you think you will answer yourself, Pooh?
The answer became clear (not crystal- I was drinking wine afterall). I am an author who became a blogger who writes about both my brand and related topics, and provides an eproduct, book and affiliate program. I’m not a “product review” blogger, although I plan to co-brand with companies including grocery stores, coupon services and food products relating to my Weekly Meal Planning System. I’m open to selectively (and I mean selectively) reviewing and blogging about very related products to my brand. I’m there to reach out to mommy bloggers to review and blog about The Organized Cook.
If you’re a new blogger and think you’re going to attend the conference and meet lots of established bloggers, this is not the conference for you. Experienced bloggers (the in-crowd) do not typically attend sessions or sponsored lunches because they are busy being courted by big brands. In fact, if you attend BlogHer but do not attend any of the sessions, lunches or parties because you are only attending private parties and private meet-ups with brands, then you know you’ve “made it” as a blogger. It’s a competitive atmosphere for mommy bloggers to get the brand’s attention and you will often hear them boasting about Twitter follower numbers, “page-views” and Klout scores.
I’m not saying that any of this is even wrong. I’m only saying that bloggers attending BlogHer for the first time need to know how to prepare themselves. Just this past week I heard that a BlogHer “newbie” this year spent her time at the conference in her hotel room crying. Sad.
3. Schedule “Meet-Ups”
If you’re not attending with a friend and if you don’t have a group, or “tribe”, to connect with at the conference, get one. Reach out to bloggers on Twitter to meet other new bloggers maybe even from your area who are attending and keep in touch with them to meet at the conference. If you’re not sure how to find other bloggers on Twitter, search and watch the @BlogHer, @BlogHer or #BlogHer12 on the Twitter stream. Or send a Tweet like “Attending #BlogHer12 for the first time. Who else is going?”, not just once, but periodically.
Read conference newsletters and sign up for sponsored breakfast meetings and events.
Research brands who are attending and pick a few you would like to connect with and contact them before the conference to let them know you’re interested in connecting with someone from their team at the conference.
Noelle arrived the second day of the conference and it became a different experience for me. We first adopted another “newbie” who didn’t even want to leave her room in the morning for breakfast until we texted that we were on our way. It was like taking in a cute stray kitten. Brands at the expo were more interested in talking with us (it helped that Noelle was filming the entire experience) and I had someone to talk to at the Sparkle Corn Party.
The sessions were interesting and I learned some new things relating to my business, but not nearly as much as I did at Bloggy Boot Camp.
See You At BlogHer12!
So why, then, did I make the decision to go ahead and purchase my tickets now for BlogHer’12? After all, I don’t need one more thing to make me feel insignificant, I’ve got my Klout score for that!
The answers are simple:
- For starters, the early-bird discount combined with the August coupon code, made the cost of the ticket lower than it will ever be. If I change my mind before next year, I can always “giveaway” the tickets or sell them.
- It’s in New York City. Enough said.
- I know what to expect now and I know how to prepare. In fact, I plan to be one of the bloggers connecting with my tribes and brands. I can play the game, even if I’m not one to brag about it (I’m just saying). In fact, if I’m positioned to be a brand vendor, successfully co-brands and connect with new co-branding opportunities at BlogHer12, I plan to do just that.
Now, there are many blogs out there from experienced BlogHer attendees if you’re looking for more advice. My favorite:
Ten Similarities Between Sorority Rush and Blog Conferences (BlogHer) by AngyJulieMonday.com
And How To Prepare For and What To Expect at BlogHer by MomSpark.net
On the last day of the conference I sat down to lunch with Noelle and our adopted friend and noticed a girl at the next table sitting by herself. Nobody was at the table but her in a roomful of thousands of female bloggers. Seriously? I walked over to her and said, “please come sit with us, there’s absolutely no reason to eat alone.” I saw the relief in her face and we made a new friend.
Email this to a Friend