Flying home from BlogHer last night, I was exhausted but overall very happy with my conference experience. I learned a lot, made great contacts with both bloggers and brands, experienced Chicago and got to reconnect with friends. I know not everyone enjoyed themselves but I truly think that how much you enjoy it can be improved with the right mind set. So here are a few tips on ways to have more fun at YOUR next blogging (or other type) of conference.
1. Wear comfortable shoes. – I walked over 12,000 steps a day while in Chicago and those were the days without sight seeing. Yes, I realize that stilettos make your legs look amazing but I would have to cut off my feet and throw them in the river. I brought a few pairs of shoes in varying heights and comfort levels. Wearing shoes that rub on different parts of your feet means that you can keep going even when your shoes from the night before were NOT that comfortable.
2. Give up on your diet for the days at the conference and eat. It’s a conference. You run from place to place and forget to eat. If you are super picky about what you eat when you finally have a chance, YOU WILL STARVE TO DEATH. True story. Also, eat it…even if you don’t particularly like it. Eating a food that isn’t your favourite will not kill you. I tell my son this daily and adults could use the same advice. Every meal you eat does NOT have to be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. Deal. Otherwise you will get hangry and it will be hard to make friends.
3. Get out of the hotel/conference centre occasionally and see the city you are visiting. Breathing too much conference centre air will turn you in to a zombie. Getting out and walking around a bit is a great idea. You won’t know what you are missing at the conference and there will be somewhere you can download the info after anyway.
4. Step outside your comfort zone and say hi to someone you don’t know and then…do it again. At a huge conference like BlogHer there will be many, many people that you don’t know. It can seem very lonely and sometimes people just aren’t that friendly. Say hi anyway. You never know who you might meet. For example, I met Rachel of Handmade Charlotte (though she told me her name was Sunshine after she found out my name was Merry, lol). It was a quick meeting but the next day she ran into us in the lobby and joined us for a Sunday of sightseeing. Had either of us decided to stick with who we knew instead of saying “hi”, we would have missed out on a great day.
5. Don’t drink too much. Parties are fun. Drinking wine is fun. Getting up and going to hear speakers and sessions when you are hung over are not. It is easier to feel like you a part of an amazing conference when your head isn’t exploding.
6. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Unless you are the Pioneer Woman, chances are that someone at the conference will have more followers than you or get paid more than you or get to go to more parties than you or get more swag than you or or or…. Roll with it. You are WONDERFUL and you can have a WONDERFUL time as long as you don’t let feelings of competition turn you into Bitter Betty. Instead, go say hi to them and maybe some of their luck or knowledge will rub off on you.
7. Don’t be afraid to be silly. Why yes, I did have my picture taken with Snoopy, The Pillsbury Dough Boy and two teddy bears. I also had a purple streak in my hair one night and I still have a blue feather in my hair that I got put in the next day. Friends that also attend the conference are great partners in silly crime. Melissa from Family Fun Canada was a big part of the silly fun.
8. Chocolate eaten in the Expo Hall doesn’t count in your daily calorie allotment. Really, it doesn’t. I can stay away from chocolate on a normal day but during BlogHer I ate mini Reese cups, dark chocolate with BBQ potato chips in it, chocolate covered wasabi peas and basically any other chocolate I could get my hands on.
9. Remember that quality contacts trump quantity every time. So you got fewer cards from brands this year than last year. Worrying and complaining about it won’t change anything. Instead, commit to developing a stellar follow up letter to send to those contacts that you DID make.
And take pictures of yourself doing all the things above so that you can remember what a fantabulous time you had.