I’m a planner, an organizer and a believer in prepping for everything for which one can prep. My Erin Condren Life Planner is always by my side. Along with my journal, EC notebook and two five-section mini-spiral notebooks. Just in case. Wanna’ talk about my color coding system? Didn’t think so. ;-)
Here on the site, most of the planning I talk about relates to meal prep. I think that should change. As a Type A Virgo, I probably need to share my tips and tricks beyond the food realm.
I’ll start today by chatting about conference prep.
BlogHer 17 is just around the corner and I’m going! Thank you SheKnows Media and BlogHer for the invitation! (No, this is not a sponsored post, but I was invited and I’m over-the-moon excited about the opportunity!)
This will be my first BlogHer conference. I didn’t plan to go but when the invite showed up in my inbox, I took it as a sign from the Universe and immediately said “YES”.
Did I worry about flights, hotel, boarding the dog, calling the cat sitter? Nope. I said “yes” and that was that. Why? Because when opportunity knocks, if you’re serious about what you do, and you know in your gut it was meant for you, you do it.
When I worked in sales and marketing, there were six huge must-attend conferences each year in my industry. I went to them and came away each time feeling like it was so worth going. At one, I landed a six-figure job as a Business Developer for a multi-million dollar company, just because I walked across the aisle to introduce myself.
When I was in graduate school working in neuroscience research, there were conferences. I went, learned, presented my own research and again, always walked away feeling great about going. I ended up with publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals with top-tier researchers I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
My Ingles Table gig stems from a gluten-free/food allergy conference meeting I had. Someone remembered me, got in touch and a great working relationship was born.
Clearly, conferences have been good for me in the past.
It’s Not all Roses
But let’s be honest. Not all conference experiences are great.
I started this site in July 2009. Early on, for several years, I attended all sorts of gluten-free/celiac/food allergy related events and conferences, both large and small.
It seemed the right thing to do based on my previous conference experience. And yes, that Ingles Table opportunity did stem from one of those events. However, I stopped going to the niche conferences a few years ago.
For me, after a few years attending these events, the venue changed, but the conferences did not. They felt stale and the ROI wasn’t there for me. It didn’t help my cause that in my work I do not advocate consuming “box foods”. I promote balance and moderation and a 90% whole foods/nutritive lifestyle. You really can’t stand up and speak saying “you shouldn’t eat this boxed food because it’s causing inflammation and hindering gut healing” when that food you’re speaking out against happens to be the big sponsor of the event. Oops.
No regrets here, though. I don’t promote what I don’t believe in, regardless of opportunity or money to be made. For me, it’s about the message, not the money. And that’s what makes BlogHer so attractive. This is a message-minded event, the largest of its kind, for women from all walks of life.
BlogHer 17 Get Ready for Me!
So, here I am preparing for a conference again. But not just any conference. This is BlogHer 17, baby! And that is why I didn’t hesitate a moment with my “yes” reply to the invitation I received. In fact, I probably replied so fast they thought, “this girl’s desperate!” Who cares? I don’t sit and plot and wait on how soon I should reply. I’m not one bit ashamed to tell you how freaking excited I am to have this opportunity.
How Does One Prepare for THE Conference of the Year?
As a BlogHer conference newbie, I’m basing my prep on past (big) conference experiences, what I read from others who previously attended, the BlogHer site and tips from the Facebook group for attendees.
If you have another great resource, share it in the comments here. As I find more resources, I’ll update this post. I’ll also do a post-conference article to tell you what I did right, not-so-right and what I’ll do different if I go again. For now, here’s how I’m prepping and how you might want to prep, too, if you’re going.
7 Steps to Prep for BlogHer17
1 – Join the Facebook group.
It’s invite-only for those who are actually registered for BlogHer17. There is so much info there, I can hardly take it all in. That leads to point 2.
2 – Set aside time each day to devote to conference prep.
This is serious business, and we need to treat it that way. BlogHer isn’t a juice and cookies conference. This is where you might just land your next big (book, sponsorship, partnership, ambassadorship, etc.) deal.
Take time EACH day to get on that Facebook group page and read, comment, connect.
Get on Twitter and say, “Who’s going to #BlogHer17? I’m going, I’m new and I want to connect!”
Follow keynote speakers and VOTY (Voices of The Year) on Instagram.
Read blog posts like this one, and others like these Tips for Attendees, a post-conference write-up from a first-time attendee, and even this CNN article.
Treat your upcoming BlogHer conference experience like the multi-faceted jewel it is and turn it around and around, examining every bit of it.
3 – Get a Game Plan.
Once you connect with some new folks in the above mentioned ways, read their blogs. See who has similar interests, find some who do not but who are doing what you want to branch out into, and look over the conference schedule.
While you really can’t firmly structure your conference time, you can get an idea of the talks you want to attend. Pick those that relate to what you’re currently working on and those that address where you want to improve/learn/grow with your blog.
Make a list noting the talk title, the time and the speaker (always try to connect on social). Keep your list handy and do your best to maximize your learning time by attending the talks you feel will benefit you most.
4 – Prep Your Networking Materials.
That’s right. You there, who is new to blogging and thinks no one will be interested in what you’re doing, they WILL! That’s why you need good quality business cards. If you’re a seasoned blogger, you might want to print some copies of your media kit just in case. Don’t be shy! This is the time to rock what you do and share it with other bloggers, brands and sponsors.
5 – Get the app.
Yes, there’s an app for that! The BlogHer17 app is available via iTunes for iPhone users and in Google Play for Android users. It’s a great way to keep up during the conference.
6 – Don’t Stress When You Don’t Stick to Your Schedule.
Like I said in #3, above, you just can’t structure these type events. You’ll have the best intention of going to X talk and on your way in, you’ll bump into another blogger. A conversation starts, you realize you have a million things in common and it goes from there. That is OK! Don’t stress. Some of the best opportunities you never knew you wanted come from these chance meetings.
Flow with your Life River; never swim upstream.
7 – Go with BIG Expectations.
Now, I bet you think I’m setting you up to be let down. Not at all! Quite the contrary, in fact.
Remember my background? Experimental Psychology with a specialty in Behavioral Neuroscience. ;-) Let me lay some science on you that can CHANGE YOUR LIFE: Your expectations drive your perception.
In science, we know this is true in all areas from social settings to pain management.
Go to BlogHer 17 with the expectation that you WILL meet lots of nice people who genuinely want to support what you do. Expect to make connections with great sponsors, helpful folks and inspirational voices. You will! I will! We all will!
Open you heart and your mind to the positive and that’s what you’ll get.
What is YOUR best piece of advice for a BlogHer newbie like me? Share it in the comments below.
If you’re going to BlogHer 17, tell me!! Let’s connect in all the ways!
If you’re curious about conference, BlogHer 17 is June 22-24 in Orlando (Yes, I’m going to Disney again!). Check it out, sign up and attend!