BlogHer is coming up in less than two weeks! OMG OMG OMG!
As usual, the BlogHer feeds on Twitter, in Facebook groups and in blog posts and comments sections are heating up.
And the first-timers are starting to stress. (Maybe. If not, good for you!)
One of my dear blog friends, Deborah from The Truth about Motherhood, is one such newbie. She's been blogging for years, but her only conference experience thus far has been a Bloggy Boot Camp, which is a far different experience from the monster that is BlogHer. (But both are fantastic, in their own ways!)
We were chatting on Twitter the other night, and I told her that she was welcome to ask any questions she wanted, and that I'd do my best to answer them.
WELL… I'm recruited a couple of friends to give their input too, so she, and you, get the experience of not me, but FOUR of us who have done this all before! So special thanks to Kerri (The Maven of Social Media), Kate (The Guavalicious Life) and Tricia (The Southern Spark) for their input as well! My answers are first, then the girls' answers are labeled accordingly.
1. What should I wear?
Whatever you feel great in! Comfortable is good too, but for me, I want to wear things that I feel confident in. If I walk into a room feeling fabulous, that conifidence spills over into my ability to strike up conversations with people (and to close the deal with brands! :)) It doesn't matter if that's yoga pants or a designer suit, as long as it's YOU. Can you tell I feel great in this dress? (Because I totally do)
Kate: Whatever you can wear all day. It feels great to change your clothes but you probably won't have time.
Tricia: Whatever makes you feel good and travels well. I like a good maxi dress I can dress up or down. Comfortable shoes are a must, as you will likely be on your feet all day. I also bring a few extra outfits just in case I change my mind, which is often. Bringing extra bras and underwear is also key, because fresh undergarments, even under the same clothes you've been wearing all day, make me feel better and I can change and carry them easily. Put what you aren't wearing in a large Ziploc bag so you don't accidentally pull out your thong while you are digging in your bag for a business card.
Kerri: Wear what you feel comfortable in. I second Tricia about taking extra undies. If you get time to take a quick shower in the middle of the day to freshen up, putting on new undies is so nice. Also, pockets. Pockets are good.
2. What parties should I attend?
Whichever ones appeal to you! I'm a little disappointed about no Sparklecorn this year, but am really looking forward the the Tribe Up parties this year (and I'll probably be focused on the Come As You Are Party, since I'm sure Anissa is going to put me to work!
Kate: Official: The progressive parties sound fun. And definitely CheeseburgHer, go spend all your drink tickets and then eat fries and dig for Happy Meal toys. Bliss.
Tricia: I hate there's no Sparklecorn this year, because I loved it in the past. This year I'm looking forward to CheeseburgHer and especially the Come As You Are party, because I'm a part of the Aiming Low team.
Kerri: CheeseburgHER! Sometimes the best parties are the impromptu ones in a friend's room or at a Starbucks!
3. What are the must haves for my business card? Photo? Wearing my sunglasses or not? Sunglasses are sort of my trademark but will a brand find that unprofessional?
Your name, and the best ways to reach you. Don't put a Twitter handle if you aren't on Twitter a lot. Some people say to put a phone number; I don't. That said, I do have a Google Voice number set up that I use for blog stuff if needed… I can have a custom “You've reached Lizz from AmIaFunnyGirl.com VM, so that's pretty cool!
As for a photo, if something specific (sunglasses) fits your brand, then go for it! I use a headshot because I have them.
Kate: If it's your trademark, go for it! I think if you are a blogger you have less pressure to have a professional business card. Don't forget to put your email and phone number.
Tricia: Definitely include a photo, and use the same photo for your avatar across all of your social media platforms. It helps people recognize and remember you. Don't forget your url and your email addy.
Kerri: I'm the girl with the red shoes, so that's my priority. I don't have my photo of my face because I'm creeped out by it from my real estate days. Make sure your contact information is correct and no shiny cards – they are hard to write on.
4. How many business cards do I need? Who should I give them to?
I ordered 1000. Because it was like $5 more than 500. But I'll probably bring a couple hundred with me. I give them out to EVERYONE I talk to.
Kate: I would say 100. But then I rarely offer my card to people I meet, I would rather just follow them on twitter then tweet them right after.
Tricia: I'm pretty slutty with my business cards; I'll give one to anyone. However, 250 will be plenty.
Kerri: I'm a business card slut too. 250 is good.
5. How do I meet all the people who live in my computer without stressing myself out?
They already like you. If they don't really want to meet you, it's easy to avoid it with 5000+ people wandering around! 🙂 It's always a huge build up, and then it isn't as big a deal once you're in it. You may also click with people you'd never talked to previously… I met some great friends in person and BlogHer in 2011 and now I adore them! (Ahem, Kerri and Cristi)
Kate: Write down who you really MUST meet then compare schedules with them. When you are at the same session/event, text them and meet up!
Tricia: You probably won't get to meet everyone. If you really, really want to meet certain people, make a date for coffee/drinks/lunch before the conference. Get their numbers so you can text to change or confirm plans. Sometimes wifi signals in hotels and convention centers aren't great, so emails and facebook messages don't always come through immediately.
Kerri: Texting is king. And be okay that a meeting might just be a quick squee hug.
6. When should I arrive?
As early as you can. If you can't do Wednesday, as early as possible on Thursday. It's nice to have some time to settle in, get your bearings and relax a bit before for the craziness gets going!
Kate: Wednesday if possible
Tricia: Wednesday, the earlier in the day, the better.
7. How do you get on private event lists?
Some of them, who knows? Some parties go off existing lists of bloggers they work with, some will open sign-ups or free-for-alls… but I agree with Kerri… begging for invites or +1s isn't cool. There are plenty of opportunities out there for everyone.
Kate: It's a mystery to me!
Tricia: Like everything else, it is always who you know.
Kerri: There is no rhyme or reason. But do not beg for invites, publicly or privately. No one likes a begger.
8. How do you set up meetings with brand sponsors before hand?
I don't generally set up meetings; I prefer to be less scheduled than that. But I definitely try to build relationships beforehand, usually on Twitter. And I don't just do the “Oh, I hope to talk to @SponsorName at #Blogher13!” I try to engage in conversations, not just throw myself at them. And I'll sometimes ask if the person running the Twitter account will be there; there's power in walking up and saying “Hi Jen! It's Lizz Porter from Twitter!” and having them know you.
Tricia: Start with emailing the sponsors well before the conference. Determine who will be there, and ask if you can set up a meeting. Be persistent, but not annoying.
Kerri: What Tricia said
9. What advice would you give every newbie BlogHer attendee?
Don't stress so much! What needs to happen will happen. BE yourself, because that's what you're best at. Don't let your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) get in the way.
Tricia: It can be very overwhelming. Be okay with changing plans or skipping an activity if you need a break. Have some goals of what you'd like to accomplish before you go. Remember that it is a huge event, but that also means huge opportunities.
Kerri: Don't forget to breathe. It's okay to say no. Don't use the conference to re-invent yourself.
10. What do I need to be sure to bring that I probably wouldn't think of?
Powerstrip for your room, a travel one to carry with you, back-up juice for your phone. Chapstick and lotion… that dry conference center air can get rough.
Kate: If you have rooomates, hangers! I hang all my clothes and then just leave the hangers behind in the trash or put them in my checked bag. Here are my roommate tips.
Tricia: Gum. OMG. Gum. Here's a link to my pretty and printable blog conference packing list (fourth one down) for all other items.
Kerri: Bandaids, asprin.