Tuesday Tip - How To Survive Your First Blogging Conference

How To Survive Your First Blogging Conference

A few weekends ago, as a Collective Bias influencer,  I attended my first blogger conference, Social Fabric University - On The Road, or SoFabUOTR. Social Fabric offers online influencer education opportunities and after several years of hosting their annual conference at their headquarters in Arkansas,  Collective Bias decided to take it on the road, making it easier for influencers and other interested parties to attended.

Seattle was one of the 11 cities on the one-day conference loop and I was so excited that they did.  Not many major conferences come up our way.

As a newbie, I wanted to share a few tips on how to survive your first blogger conference. This was a smaller conference, nowhere near huge 600 - 1,000 attendees affairs, and was only one day long.  In fact, I preferred that for my first time out, it was a little intimidating as it was.  Which is even better, because I am going to a mega conference this year, Alt Summit's summer conference in June!

Hear that squealing sound??  That is me.

Anyway...back to the story.  Today I'm sharing what we did that day...and what I learned!

How To Survive Your First Blogging Conference; brand panel

Use And Follow The Event Hashtags Before And During The Event
This is an awesome way to find out who else is going, and perhaps meet some people you've been following online, like Parenting Geekly and United States Of Motherhood! Even at the event, while you are social sharing, you'll have people 'waving' across the room at you and come find you.

It is also a great tool to get your followers in on the fun...what is this #SoFabOTR?

Here is the brand panel, teaching us all about hear from brand reps on how bloggers and brands can and should work together.

How To Survive Your Blogging Conference; Johnny Rockets

Wear Comfortable Shoes
Our conference included heading down a few blocks to Johnny Rockets, the national lunch sponsor, for lunch and for a city-specific adventure...we walked from the hotel down to Pike Place Market, several hilly blocks away.  Even without a walking adventures,  you'll be on your feet for awhile.  I know, you are tempted to wear your super cute heels, but resist the urge. Unless you bring a pair of super cute flats to switch into.

How To Survive Your First Blogging Conference; Great Wheel

How To Survive Your First Blogging Conference; Gum Wall

What was our adventure? We were broken up into 3 groups and my group spent the afternoon with  Josh Hicks of The Drive Shop for a hands-on education on everything from producing films to video editing, being a spokes-model to showing off brand products, and how to use Vine.  Our trip through downtown Seattle was all about learning to capture our ideas on video. I'm not completly sold on the 'doing a video idea' but I got some great tips and pointers for when I do.

How To Survive Your First Blogging Conference; Johnny Rockets

Speaking of adventure, if you were playing the game, Where's Dawn? in the Johnny Rockets' photo...I was a little hard to see....

How To Survive Your First Blogging Conference business cards

Have Business Cards Or A Social Media Name To Pass Out
Because our time together was so short, I only passed out and collected a few business cards...mostly to the sponsors.  That is important because remember, they are meeting a lot of people who want their attention, especially if they are traveling to 10 other cities. Or, if you are at a conference with 600 other people.

However, the majority of attendees were like "What's your Instagram/Twitter handle?" and popped right online to follow you.  Those are always the best...you've made a dynamic first impression.

You may start out with a generic card if you are new to the business.  But if you really want to stand out, you need nice cards.  I share a few of my favorites from Minted and other spots like VistaPrint and  Moo have a endless variety of options and price points.

Even a straight forward business card can be given some serious pizzazz.  My cards are fun, but adding them to a little envelope filled with confetti made them feel like a real party.  And duh, that's what I do, right?  If you are looking for more fun ways to think outside the card box or craft your cards to the next level, check out Alt Summit's Business Card Inspiration Board.

Remember, you business card reflects your business and brand so it doesn't have to be all flash and bang to get your point across.  Make sure it's you!

How To Survive Your First Blogging Conference; Andy Hayes

Bring A Laptop/Tablet Or Go Old School With Paper And Pen
Do you know what the most interesting/annoying sound in the world is? Listening to the "tappity tap" of hundreds of fingers on a laptop during a presentation. Every time there was a pause...tappity tap tap.

Not this girl.  I think I was the only one writing in her notebook.  I did bring my laptop because they suggested I should.  Never broke it out.  If that is your thing, go for it! If not, make sure you have plenty of paper for note-taking or note-passing.

And there was plenty with keynote speaker, Andy Hayes, founder and creator of Plum Deluxe, the website that helps you create moments that matter. He spoke on How to Build a Lasting Audience (not just more traffic); from creating an audience building starter kit to planning on how to stretch your comfort zone.  He didn't just talk to us...we had homework and broke up into group discussions to work through all our worksheets.

How To Survive Your First Blogging Conference T-Mobile

Prepare Your Elevator Speech
Yes, you've heard about it before...if you meet someone in an elevator and want to pitch yourself, you have about 30 seconds before they arrive at their destination to make an impression. It's true.  Unless your name is "Cake Decorating and Party Planning by Eva", most blogger names don't encompass everything they do.

In fact, mine brings the 'wha??' look, followed by the 'oh...' look after my speech.  Which leads me back to the "Choose your blog/business name wisely" discussion, which leads to the "You need to rebrand, girl!" discussion.  But I've been around for awhile and didn't really think about where I could have possibly have been 7 years later.

But my point, who are you and what do you do is what they want to know.  Mine is essentially,
"Hi, I'm Dawn of Not Just A Mommy" 
"Not Just A Mommy??"  
"I know, it sounds weird. I started blogging about parties when my kids were younger because I wanted to talk about more than mommy stuff.  I'm a party and event stylist and love to show people how to party fabulously on a budget"
"That's awesome, tell me more!"

No, they don't say that last line, but something to that effect. Then they always ask for a business card.This came in handy for the evening's cocktail party mixer sponsored by T-Mobile.

How To Survive Your First Blogging Conference selfie

Follow Up With Everyone You Can
After the excitement and rush ends, and you are back to your normal life, be sure and reach out to everyone you made a connection with.  Yes, kids, this is networking. Check out their websites and social media, and if you really like them, follow them.

However, not everyone you meet will have what you are looking for and vice versa.  Don't be sad if that happens. I could meet a fabulous blogger who blogs about restoring cars.  Her aesthetic doesn't really mesh well with my audience, unless we are talking about throwing a Restored Car Party or fabulous car accessories, but that doesn't mean that we can't still be friends and be inspired by each other.  Perhaps, down the road she does throw said party and wants to share.

How To Survive Your First Blogging Conference; Pike Street Market
photo courtesy of The Mama Report's Instagram feed

Have Fun!
Don't forget to have a good time...after all, it's about making you better at what you already do best!

I had an awesome time and I'm so thrilled about all the new friends I met, and the small world that brought me back to old friend, Ali of The Mama Report! We met years ago at the Lucky Leaf blogger ambassador event and is now a Sr. Community Manager at Collective Bias. That's her in the middle, enjoying her first visit to Seattle.

Have you attended a blogger conference? Have any great tips to share on surviving one? Leave a blog comment and tell us! I need everything I can get for Alt Summit in June.

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