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Monday, February 9, 2009

Tips for Your First Blog Conference

Some day this blog will return to the 'twin mom' roots but having just returned from my very first blog conference, Blissdom09, I have the need to share my tips with others who might be afraid to take part.

Before I left I was afraid I'd feel lonely (having no real blog friends), out of my element (Feedburner does what?), and defeated (because of my traffic...I appreciate you dear readers more than you'll ever know).

But upon returning I can tell you I have lots of blog friends, I am a member of an incredible movement that recognizes the power of women/mothers/bloggers, and I am motivated and energized to put what I've learned to work!

So if you are afraid of taking the leap - don't be!
If you are even slightly interested and can afford a blog conference - GO!
Here are some tips to help you feel more comfortable:

1. Get a roommate
Email some of your favorite bloggers, readers, or twitter friends to see who else is going and who is looking to share a room. This does two things: cuts down on the cost of the room and sets you up with an automatic friend! Before heading down to the conference I called my roommate and flat out told her I'd be sticking to her like glue. Luckily, this was her first conference and she felt the same way.

2. Get a list of mobile phones
Before you leave chat with some of the attendees (see #1) and get a few cell numbers so that you can text and arrange to meet when you are down there like I did with Renee. You'll feel better knowing you've got a few 'friends' already and trust me, they quickly become your friends/sisters/supporters.

3. Bring a notebook
I had the right idea in my earlier post and I'm glad I followed through. The notebook came in handy during sessions, to jot down the names and blogs of the people I was meeting and wanted to connect with later, and even for keeping track of the conference schedule. On the way home I had everything in one place as I started notes for this post and for future posts. (Also check out JessicaKnows' Moleskin notebook.)

4. Bring business cards
For me, business cards helped me stand out. Not just because I used an envelope, but because it was what I used to break the ice and talk to people. I usually asked them for their card, then asked if I could give them mine. A number of people had seen my post and immediately we had something to talk about. And if I had never heard of their blog, I asked. Plus, now I have a database of people I can turn to for advice, partnership, and support. I hope they feel the same way when they look at my card.

5. Participate
Don't be afraid to ask questions at a session. People remember you when you ask a good question and will often approach you and mention it.
If there is a cocktail hour, go.
If there is a karaoke party, ask one of your blog idols to get up there with you and sing Dancing Queen.

Renee, Janine, White Trash Mommy and Linda
Sugar Jones invited me to sit down at breakfast with Mandi, Lisa, and Rachel and we later explored downtown Nashville. Introducing myself and approaching people was how I found one of my new BFFs MommaDJane.

6. Meet the Sponsors
Check them out before you go so you know what to say to the people representing the companies. Without the sponsors there would be no conference, or it would be really expensive to attend. Reach out to them if you have a chance, say thank you, and if you feel compelled, post about them!

I know I became an even bigger fan of Yanni Voices (thanks to Disney Pearl) and Chris Mann (thanks to Sony Music). I'm going to start using Lijit, start buying Little Debbie 100 calorie snacks - probably at Walmart, and start wearing cool Crocs boots as soon as I use my gift certificate!

Would love to have your suggestions too!
More posts on Blissdom09 here:
What to bring to a blog conference
Help me get dressed for Blissdom09
Diving head first into the shallow end of the blogging conference


Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Great post -- good for you on diving right in! Glad you had such a great time (and so much fun!)!

It was great to meet you!


Sugar said...

Great tips! The virgin conference goer will be lucky to read this.

I had sooo much fun hanging with you! Can't wait for the next time. Maybe I'll just have to go to DC and stalk you???

Touchd Organic Sugar Scrubs said...

I am so impressed how you wrapped that all up. I have 100 different posts started in my head! Thanks for the props! I am so glad I got to spend time with you because I would have missed out on a great friend!!!

Rachel Ferrucci

Carol @SheLives said...

Thanks for the tips. I've yet to take the plunge, but your post has given me some courage.

And I do love me some moleskin notebooks!

Sandra Foyt said...

What a blast! I totally wish I could've gone. Thanks for the great tips, when I do go to one of these conferences, I'll definitely heed your advice.

thebeadgirl said...

so great to meet you too...and share breakfast! you were truly a delight and i look forward to following you and keeping in touch!

lisa aka thebeadgirl

Jyl @ MommyGossip said...

I am so happy I got the change to meet you at Blissdom last weekend. You are such a positive, fun person to be around! I love this pic and am trying to figure out how in the world I missed your big debut on the grand stage of the Pink Slip Lounge ;)!

Anne Mayhew said...

Sounds like it was great fun! I look forward to my first blog conference and will keep your tips in mind!

Wendy at Babies Gotta Have It said...

Thanks for such a great post! I'm totally nervous about going to a blog conference. So good to hear that it's as fun and welcoming as I would hope. Yay bloggers!

Renée aka Mekhismom said...

This is a great post! I love that we have that picture to immortalize us doing Dancing Queen!

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

Would you believe I've been following you on Twitter and JUST NOW realized that we met at Blissdom? Oh my. [Insert rolling eyes at MYSELF here!]

We just met briefly, but still.

Anyway - GREAT post! I wish I would have known these things before Blissdom or even had the presence of mind to pull it together afterwards. But you better believe I'm better prepared for my next conference!!