The weeks and days leading up to the BlogHer conference are a crazy time for attendees. There are so many worries and considerations when attending a conference like this, and it is important to make the most of the time, money, and energy spent getting there and while you are there. Some of my considerations were:
- Are my business cards and other marketing materials printed and looking spectacular?
- What sessions are most pertinent to my goals?
- Have I collected all the Twitter handles of the people I would like to connect with?
- How is my blog looking?
How I Prepared
As you can see, I was not lacking in concern over BlogHer ’12.
I began preparing to network by designing and ordering new business cards. Moo cards are AWESOME by the way. Never hesitate to order from them.
After I received my shiny new cards, I thought about how I would make connections, and aside from the speed dating event and general introductions and discussions with my fellow bloggers, I decided my best bet was to find the best people to network with was to take a look at the session schedule and decide which sessions I wanted to attend, and from there, connect – or prepare to connect – via Twitter.
In choosing what sessions I would attend, I looked back on my monthly and 2012 year goals for both of my blogs in order to be really focused on what I wanted to learn and who I wanted to connect with. For any given session, there were several places a blogger could choose to go, which created a little conflict. Fortunately, knowing that BlogHer will publish the sessions on the site helped a lot, because it freed up any conflicts between what I wanted to learn and who I wanted to meet.
And now comes the Twitter part. I collected the Twitter handles of other bloggers in general, and speakers whose sessions I would attend, along with a little information about them just in case I had the opportunity to chat with them. I then added all of this information to a 3×5 flip book. I color coded this information with my session schedule. That’s just how I roll, ya’ll. Some people I tweeted prior to BlogHer, some I tweeted about during the sessions, and some I met after and am tweeting with right now!
After thinking about how I was going to connect with bloggers and other attendees, I began thinking about how my blogs are looking. I’ve recently started working with the Genesis Framework, and have spent the last several months getting clients set up with Genesis in preparation for the big BlogHer event. Hence, I was a last-minute-Leslie on my own switch over to Genesis, so that caused quite a lot of stress. But, aside from a couple of kinks I still have to work out, I felt good about my blogs, and great about showcasing a Genesis customization.
What I Would Have Done Differently
Believe it or not, there is not a lot I would have done differently. I’m quite organized and know enough about myself to know what will and will not work for me. Although I wasn’t really there to make big connections with big brands, I do think it would have helped if I had been more aware of the brands that were not only at BlogHer, but were holding their own events off-site. At the time, though, I was not sure in which direction I wanted to go with monetizing my blogs. In fact, I’m still working that out. Ultimately, I feel confident that the experience of talking to a few, gathering their information, and just soaking it all up was the best way for me to experience interacting with brands for the first time.
Also, I would have loved to have been able to be there to see President Obama address the BlogHer crowd on Thursday!
Where I Go From Here
After all of this exhausting planning, networking, partying, and traveling, it is hard – but vital – to immediately sit and think where to go from here. What is important to me and to my readers? What is my plan of action? How do I put it in place? As I eluded to in the comments section on paulag01’s post, “What’s Your BlogHer ’12 Follow Up Strategy?” my plan is threefold.
First, I have to do an initial follow-up with my connections. Some of this I have done, mainly via Twitter, and mostly with bloggers. The next step is to start connecting with the brand representatives and marketing representatives I made connections with at the conference.
Second, and in order to really complete the first step, I need to decide where I go from here regarding monetization and brand representation. This needs to happen – and fast – before it becomes too late to be in contact with said brand and marketing reps. This is a sticky wicket, though, because I have a responsibility to my readers – and to myself – to remain true to who I am and what is important to me personally and socially.
Lastly, I’m going to make a plan and put it into action. I cannot tell you enough how glad I am that I was forward-thinking enough to plan monthly and yearly goals for myself, even before I had an idea of what I wanted to do, and before I knew I was going to the conference. I have already checked back on those goals, and really only made minor adjustments. I have made a list of what I would like to represent in my blogs that will not put me at risk of alienating readers or my compromising my ideals. Now comes the actual hard part. The pitch. I need to work on several – maybe five – test them out, narrow them down to about three, and start really making those meaningful connections. See – I learned that at BlogHer!
Reflections and Conclusions
I have felt lately because I have had so little time to blog, I have no idea where I’m going with my blogs and consequently, my business. Every blogger feels the need now and then to move in a new direction, whether it is with content, design, platform, or monetization. Prepping for and attending the conference has really helped me solidify my definition of what I am doing and where I go from here. It has also reminded me of why I started blogging in the first place, which was to share my knowledge, my experiences, my outlook on life, and maybe – just maybe – to help people.
Were there flaws in the conference? Hell yeah! But let’s face it, most of the time it is impossible to please everyone in a group of three let alone 5,000! And just like many things in life, you get out of it what you put in. I hope my fellow bloggers – sisters, friends, and loved-ones, really – are able to take what’s good and make the most of it for themselves and their readers.