I hadn't been to a "Blogger" conference in a while and decided to step out of my comfort zone last fall and attend a few fun social things to kind of get back into the swing of things ( read main goal : spread some GirlCarnivore lovin' and grow my travel writing ). I had almost forgotten what it was like to register and attend on of these events! It was like being the new blogger all over again... except I knew some people which I can't say was really the case the last time I did this. Here are my Tips for Attending your First Blogger Conference if you are new to the game, or maybe a returning face like myself!
For you first timers, I figured I would share some tips on attending your first blogger conference.
Tips for Attending your First Blogger Conference
Bring cards: Seriously, spend the $30 on Moo and print some cards. It's not because you are the biggest baddest blogger in the world, but because the people who I do actually want to connect with post-conference, I want to have on hand. I run into a lot of people and I can't remember all of them exactly, so flipping through at the end of the night is a great way to remind myself. Also, I am not terribly outspoken in large groups, but for the few brands that I want to make genine connections with, I make myself speak up, introduce myself, and give a card. I don't expect award winning conversation in a room with 400 of my peers, but I want them to know I am seriously playing ball.
Dress your Blog: That sounds stupid. But it's true. This is a business meeting as much as it is meeting some friends IRL. If you are a sophisticated blogger, now is not the time to roll up in sweat pants. If you are an outdoorsy mountain biker who also happens to run a meat blog, be yourself. Being comfortable in your own skin goes a long way. No point in putting on a LBD if it ain't your thing. Dress business casual, but your business casual. Keep in mind who you want to reach out to and the impression you want to make.
A photo posted by kita roberts (@passthesushi) on
Step out of your comfort zone. Hobnob: This is what it's for people. Hanging out, getting to know one another, making connections, being more than just a screen name. We are all introverts at heart (there's a reason we work from behind a computer every single day) but these events are for getting to know one another and making those dreamy connections that can launch your platform or build your brand. Seriously, this year I was offered some amazing opportunities just because I agreed to some dinners. I got some priceless time with friends, wonderful food (seriously, wonderful food), and made connections all at the same time. After a rum and coke it wasn't even that hard for me. As I sit in my hotel room, prepping for another conference (a travel one), I am more confident in myself and my platform than I would be if I let this all fall out of practice. And, because, at the end of the day, we make friends in this weird way in our blogger groups. I am really happy that I made a point to step out of my bubble and enjoy some time with them as part of the whole package.
Know your Pitch: What does that even mean. I bake cookies. Yes, but you want to be so much more, or you wouldn't be here. You have a target audience and a goal in mind. Now is your chance to chase it, but to chase it you need to do a little homework and be prepared. Research who your target is. Research the brands coming to the party. Have a list in mind of those who are a great fit for you and have a simple short intro ready for them. Be you and be real, but realize that 100000 other people are shoving their media kit in their faces too. Have what the we call an 'elevator pitch'. Define your brand, goals and desired outcome in under 30 seconds. The reps are people too and shouldn't be treated like cattle for the brand the represent. Standing in line to be one more generic gimmie isn't helping anyone and certainly isn't building a relationship for you. Treat everyone with respect, be genuine and real, thank them for their time, and go about your business.
Sit in on sessions: You may be surprised at what you get. This one isn't for newbies. It's for bloggers of any level of expertise. We like to get stuck in our ways. Sure we want to know the next best tool for utilizing Pinterest, but we already know how to take photos, how to pitch, how to post. But we don't know every way. A few years ago I took photography 101. I had already been teaching black and white film photography. Already been running my site. Already been in magazines. But there is always more than one way to change a lightbulb. The professor asked my why I was in the class. It's because I knew I was lacking some basics. An honest admission to myself. And I had a desire to improve. Sometimes that means being willing to learn. I sat in on Irvin's presentation this year for IFBC really to just show support. I was shocked to find myself listening intently to Sarah and Irvin speaking and giving some tips and tricks that I hadn't known before. I even took notes. It was an unexpected bonus, but one I realized I needed to be more open to.
Step out of your comfort zone
A photo posted by kita roberts (@passthesushi) on
Conferences are a great way to meet people in real life, hang out with friends you have made, and really put yourself out there. We sit behind out computer screens all day, so when the chance arrives to actually go hang out with your facebook besties - take it! Be bold and be brave. Roommate with a stranger - I did that once and she and I ended up becoming good friends. Be open and willing to share and learn something new. But most of all be yourself, the whole reason we love you and your bad ass blogger self. I promise, if you head in with great intentions, you will have a blast!
What conferences are you eyeing up for the new year? Which have you been to and what highlights did you take back from them?