I’ve written often about what to do at BlogWorld – tips to help you prepare, tips to help you while you’re at the event…I’m about tipped out. Well, almost. BlogWorld LA is going to be here in less than two weeks, so I wanted to write one last post, this time featuring what not to do while attending. Oh, and head to the end because I have a big, fat conference secret that might just change the way you approach the entire event!
Tip #1: Don’t over-promise.
Thousands of really awesome people attend BlogWorld every year, and a-lister or not, a lot of them want to meet you (even if they don’t know it yet). Some of your friends might be speaking. People plan dinners and unofficial events. There are parties every night.
I know you want to do everything, but chances are pretty good that you won’t be able to get to all the cool stuff you want to attend. Don’t promise that you’ll be there, because when you miss it, you’ll disappoint (and maybe even anger) your friends and new acquaintances. The fact of the matter is that events overlap and sometimes you just need to refresh in your room for a few hours. Instead of promising that you’ll definitely be wherever someone wants you to be, tell them you’re going to do you best (and then actually do your best).
Tip #2: Don’t go to your friends’ sessions.
Deb might want to ring my neck for telling you to not go to sessions, but the point isn’t to skip them completely. Just attend the one that most fits your new media interests and needs in every time slot. With well over 200 speakers, you probably have some friends who are presenting sessions. That’s awesome. Go and support them – IF there are no other sessions that interest you at that time. You can always listen to their presentations via the virtual ticket after BlogWorld ends, but you only get one chance to actually network and ask questions in-person with the speaker presenting a topic that truly interests you. So choose how to spend your time wisely!
Tip #3: Don’t panic.
There’s a lot to do and see. You won’t do it all or see it all. It’s okay. Breathe. Focus on enjoying your time there, not on worrying that you aren’t making the most of your experience.
Tip #4: Don’t neglect Twitter.
A lot of people make jokes about people who are tweeting during the event when they could be hanging out with online friends face-to-face. While it is true that you should put your phone down to have dinner with a colleague or drinks with some readers of your blog, don’t turn it off completely. When you neglect Twitter, you miss out on the really cool stuff that pops up. Some of the coolest people I met last year were people I only met because I was watching the BlogWorld hashtag (it’s #BWELA for this upcoming event). I got to go to dinner with David Murray. I got to hang out in Darren Rowse’s suite. I got to sit up talking with Jordan Cooper until the wee hours of the morning. None of that would have happened if I wouldn’t have been using Twitter while at BlogWorld. This event is all about the people you’ll meet (like the wonderful group pictured at left), and they aren’t always listed in the program guide.
Tip #5: Don’t drink too much.
The opportunity is there. A lot of people do. If you want to party, go a day early or stay a day late. I have a heck of a good time in Vegas last year before BlogWorld started! But during the official event? Represent yourself well. BlogWorld should be fun, but this is also a professional event. No one wants to work with the guy who’s trashed and stumbling away from the party with a random hook-up on his arm and no one wants to be associated with the chick throwing up in the bathroom. Using “but my brand is edgy” isn’t an excuse. A lot of “edgy”-branded people go to BlogWorld parties and drink, but I’ve never seen Scott Stratten or Miss Destructo or anyone other a-lister get wasted when they should be networking.
Tip #6: Don’t give me your card until after our conversation.
At every BlogWorld, people seem to fall into three categories: those who have a stack of freshly-printed cards they’re actually holding in anticipation, those who have cards but rarely remember to give them out, and those who give cards when it makes sense. Be part of the last group. If we’ve barely met, I don’t want your card. Walking up to me and handing it out as you give your elevator pitch is not a good marketing plan. Talk to me. Get to know me. And then, if we connect and there’s a reason we might want to email one another in the future, give me a card before we part ways.
Tip #7: Don’t be a stalker.
One of the great things about BlogWorld is that tons of a-listers a attend and unlike many other events where they’re whisked away as soon as they’re done speaking, most actually stick around and talk to fans at BlogWorld. You’ll see many of them attending other sessions, perusing the expo floor, and hanging out at official parties, so there’s lots of time to say hello. Say it! They want to meet you (in my experiences). But don’t be a stalker. Just because you said hello to an a-lister (or anyone at BlogWorld for that matter), doesn’t mean that you’re now best friends. Give them some space. When you start popping up everywhere and monopolizing their time, it’s just…well…creepy and annoying.
Tip #8: Don’t forget to follow up.
As soon as you get home (or even back to the hotel room if you have time), follow up on the business cards you collected. Check out sites you promised to check out. Follow people on Twitter. Draft emails that you promised to send. Say thank you if someone helped you. If you let these tasks go, they’ll never get done. Two months later, you aren’t going to remember a lot of the people you met if you didn’t follow up with a relationship immediately after the event – and they certainly won’t remember you either.
Tip #9: Don’t forget to bring your camera.
And more importantly, don’t forget to use it! You may not see these people again until next year. And in reality, you may not see these people again EVER. Bring your camera to capture the fun moments. No one ever leaves and event thinking “man, I wish I wouldn’t have taken so many pictures” but all too often, we leave wishing we would have taken more.
And One Big, Fat Secret? Okay, are you ready for this. Here’s what I didn’t know coming into my first major event that has changed my outlook: Everybody is nervous about attending.
Last year, I let my nerves get the best of me on several occasions, and I thought I was totally alone. When I wrote about my experiences afterward, however, I found out that I wasn’t! Even people like Chris Garrett and Andy Hayes stopped by to comment about feeling similar at times. We all have insecurities. We all have “heroes” who we’re nervous to meet. We all get anxious when going to a party where we don’t know anyone else. We all worry about what other people thing. It’s human nature. Some of us are more anxious than others, but at BlogWorld, I’d say there are probably more introverts than extroverts. We spend all day blogging behind a computer screen. Meeting people in real life is scarey.
So don’t think you’re the only one who needs to retreat to the hotel for a few hours of alone time. Just don’t let fear paralyze you to the point where you stay there. We’re very nice people. I promise. 🙂