I swore once I’d never write about blogging on this blog. I know most of my readers, if not all, could care less as they’re not bloggers. But I also consistently use this blog to write about what’s on my mind, and this is a topic I can’t seem to ignore. So, even though a billion other bloggers have written about this, I’m throwing my hat in the ring too.
This is my third year attending BlogHer, one of the largest conferences for bloggers. This year, I have noticed a lot of pre-conference hype about parties versus sessions and what bloggers “should” be doing. I agree with some of these people and I find others to be slightly harsh in their finger wagging-on both sides.
Here is what I know, for I can only speak to what I know, not what I think you should know.
- As a first year BlogHer attendee it is easy to get sucked into the hype and mystery surrounding parties, thus turning down invitations can feel nearly impossible.
- As a first year BlogHer attendee, not getting invited to parties and watching people come in with bags loaded with incredible stuff can make you feel like you the girl who sat home on Prom night. And it’s the following Monday at school. And everyone is holding hands with hot mates while you walk alone.
- Sometimes BlogHer sessions are disappointing.
- Sometimes outside parties are disappointing and most probably won’t live up to your expectations based on hype alone.
- Unless it is an intimate gathering like a lunch and learn, most parties aren’t great for networking.
- The sessions (and hallways) of BlogHer can be great for networking.
- The sessions at BlogHer can be incredible and should not be missed.
- You pay a lot of money to attend this conference, perhaps attending the conference is important, at least for a while.
- Whatever you put into the weekend is exactly what you get out. There should be some idea of your goals before you leave.
- (This is the only one you should listen to.) What everyone else thinks you should be doing, matters not one bit. Do what works for you and your business or blog. Just make decisions that are right for your goals, not based on what seems cool or what others say is right.
Here’s the thing, I’ve been to two very different BlogHers. My first, in NYC, I spent the entire time at sessions. Some that felt lackluster and others I was distracted from because I was watching people parade in and out with Swag Bags like I’d never seen before. I was envious and felt worthless and nearly ruined the entire thing for myself. When I went to “network” in the expo hall, what I found were a bunch of brands throwing free stuff my way in booths staffed by very young PR reps who really had no idea how to talk to me about what we might do together as partners. My overall impression was disappointment and overwhelm. I wasn’t invited to the places the cool kids were going and the places I was invited didn’t seem to work for me.
I was wrong.
I went a second year and this time vowed to do exactly what was right FOR ME. I was invited to a few cool parties but I made sure they didn’t interfere with actual sessions because I wanted to give those a shot too. I learned a crap-load in the sessions I chose and heard some incredible people speak that I’m sure I wouldn’t have otherwise. In those SESSIONS I met people that led to a gig on Huffington Post, my kid in the Wall Street Journal and more than one guest blogging appearance. In the evening I Listened To My Mother and I spent time brainstorming with friends old and new, mostly in hallways and sitting in lobbies. I got six seconds alone in a lobby with someone that made my night and probably has no idea, ditto for a sudden cab share to the airport. (I’m such a hero worshipper!) My point is, the magic of BlogHer is everywhere, especially in the little moments. Don’t miss it because you’re busy being worried about the lost swag or parties you can’t attend. Because I followed a path that worked for me, that included both what I paid for, the extra shin-digs and soaking up every second in betwee, I left that BlogHer a better writer, blogger and business woman. My choices suited my goals and I flew away from San Diego on cloud nine.
This year, I’ve got a mix of parties and sessions on my schedule. More parties than last year because this year is local so I have friends I want to support but still almost nothing that interferes with the business of the day. I will say, I’m amazed at the amount of parties that occur during sessions this year. I’ve managed to avoid most of them and I haven’t been invited to many others and with that I am fine. Because, there is value in sessions and keynotes so they’re not to be missed. (I mean, Katie Couric people!) The bottom line is, I’m doing what works for me and I’m doing my best to ignore the noise coming from everywhere around me.
For what it’s worth, I think everyone should try the same. Don’t discount the value of the real BlogHer . Don’t stress over where you are and aren’t invited. Know that you’re exactly where you are supposed to be and there is value there for you.
More than anything, please don’t judge people for being the same or totally different from you in their decisions.
See you in The City.
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