I attended my first BlogHer conference over the weekend.
I wasn't exactly sure what to expect but I knew that it was a big conference with a very busy schedule.
When I go to conferences, my main goal is to network, make meaningful connections and learn.
Sadly, I don't feel I accomplished what I set out to do.
Maybe it's because the conference had over 5,000 attendees. Maybe the outside parties got in the way, or maybe it's the simple fact that I didn't plan my trip well.
Looking back, there's a few things I would suggest to do in order to make the most out of your experience.
1. Pick a goal and stick with it. If your goal is to network and make connections, then stick with a party/expo pass. But if you want to learn, then opt for the full-pass and attend as many sessions as you can. My schedule prevented me from attending the sessions and I heard most of them filled up fast. Best advice - arrive early.
2. Map out a schedule beforehand. Don't go to BlogHer without some type of road map. If you don't have one, it will leave you feeling overwhelmed and completely disappointed.
3. Cut down the number of outside parties. Before BlogHer, you will get invited to a ton of parties, which are hard to pass up. My best advice, be selective and pick the parties with brands that you want to connect with and learn more about. Remember, it takes time to get from one party to the next (especially in a big city), something I forgot to factor into my schedule.
4. Expo - can I just say WOW?! This year the expo was three levels and boy was it packed. Get a game plan together before heading to the expo. Map out which brands you want to visit, to prevent you from walking around clueless.
5. Bring a one-page media kit. When you meet a brand/professional that's a good connection for you - hand them a one-page media kit. It should include information about you (or your business), services you provide, companies you have worked with in the past, a photo of you (so they can put a name with a face) and your contact information. This will help you stand out.
6. Forget the swag people. Ok it's great to get free stuff, but it shouldn't be your main goal for attending a conference. I saw people knock others over for free stuff or running from booth to booth to enter every contest possible. I guess there will be all kinds at a big conference, but remember making meaningful connections completely outweighs free stuff....at least in my book it does.
7. Don't forget to eat. By Saturday afternoon, I had a really bad headache and felt sick. I realized I was on the go for two days straight and didn't eat a full meal or drink enough water. Thankfully, I attended the Glamorous Lunch at Ruth's Chris Steak House and felt better after having a good, hearty meal. Not eating or staying hydrated is a sure way to feeling rundown.
8. Take notes on business cards. After you meet someone, write down on their business card where you met them (ie; expo floor, networking event, session, etc) along with a few notes and something that will connect the person to the name (the lady with the fabulous red dress)!
9. Let loose! You are away for a few days without kids so have fun, enjoy your friends and soak up the experience!
10. Snap photos. Don't be afraid to grab your favorite people for a photo opportunity or in my case ask a celebrity!
Everyone has different goals in mind when attending BlogHer. Some want to make it more of a social event while others go into it from a business perspective. Either way is fine, but you must decide how you want to approach the conference before attending.
This will help ensure you get the most out of your experience.
Do you have any tips to share?