So… you are thinking about going to a blog conference in the next few months or year. Are you scared? Nervous? Wondering what the whole “conference” thing is like?
I’m a conference junkie. I’ll be the first to admit to it. I’ve been to BlogHer, BlissDom (2 times), Gleek Retreat and a number of BloggyBootCamps. Next year I’m already planning on going to Type-A Conference in Atlanta. If I had an unlimited source of cash, and/or unlimited time off from the employer that pays the bills, I would probably attend more.
Why do I love attending conferences so much?
No matter the walk of life they are from, it’s fun to meet the people who you talk to online all the time. Are they always as “bubbly” as they seem on twitter? No. Most of us (including myself… at times) are a jumble of nerves because we are nervous about meeting new people. Many bloggers are self-proclaimed introverts and it takes time for them to adapt to the situation they are in. But as soon as you open up and talk about the things each of you enjoys – and what has brought you together at this conference – the walls of fear come down and the “in real life” friendships start to form.
But (and I hate to include this)… remember that you aren’t going to like everyone you meet in real life. Just like a few of the people at the office or in high school that you didn’t get along with, there will be some people in the blog world that your personalities don’t mesh. Maybe both of you are having an “off” day. Maybe the other person just got some bad news. The key here is to not take it personally or assume the other person is thinking crazy things about you.
Each conference I go to, I learn something new. But it’s not always the conference programming that you learn something from. For example, this year at BlogHer I learned more about what I wanted to do within social media (like try to make it into a career) rather than about how to do something for my blog. Sometimes in talking to brands, friends or even the occasional passer-by (that you wish you would have gotten the business card for) will shed clarity on things that you didn’t even know that you were needing to learn.
This is always the best part. The experiences. Whether it’s touring around lower Manhattan on a boat cruise or walking around the hotel with a new friend trying to find the lobby so you can get a new key to your room (seriously, it’s happened!) the bonding that happens with people when you are with them in these situations will provide connections and memories that will last a lifetime.
Just remember to be open to each of the situations when they arise. Say hi to people in line and ask how their day is going… or comment on the things that are happening around you. It’s truly been in these situations that I have found some of the closest friends.
So in the end, my recommendation? Go and explore the blog conference world. Find a small one that is close to you… or jump in with both feet and check out BlogHer in Chicago next year. Either way you’ll have a plethora of memories and hopefully a new inspiration or two worth writing about.