How to Prepare For & What to Expect at BlogHer

Have questions? Leave a comment or visit our BlogHer ’12 Community Forum.  Also, feel free to bookmark this post or our forum for future reference.

Mom Spark Forum Members – BlogHer 2010

Some of you may find this post silly, but I know that there are many terrified ladies out there who are worrying themselves sick over their first BlogHer experience.  Haley (my project manager/partner in crime) and I have been there, too, so we have put together some helpful advice and tips for attending BlogHer this year.

 

::PREPARATION::


What Items to Bring & Pack

Aside from the obvious clothing (we’ll talk clothing in a minute) and toiletries, here are some items you will also want to include:

  • cell phone, charger & extra battery
  • laptop & power supply
  • power strip (sometimes it’s hard to find a plug)
  • camera, charger & USB cord (in case you want to upload photos to your laptop)
  • a few purse/bag options (you may want a big purse/bag for day & smaller one for evening events)
  • snacks (you will often find yourself hungry, so pack some granola bars, crackers, etc.)
  • cash (for taxi, shuttle & tips)
  • business cards (don’t have any yet? small budget=Vistaprint, big budget=MOO)
  • headphones for flight (I like Chicbuds because they retract)
  • umbrella (if forecast looks rainy)
  • all tickets and maps you may need for parties and events (keep these with you at all times)
  • blow dryer (this is a must if you are sharing a room)
  • makeup remover wipes (if you have roomies, the sink isn’t always available)
  • Tylenol/Excedrin/Motrin (you will get a headache, trust me)
  • extra sweater (it will be summer, but conference rooms are almost always freezing)
  • BAND-AIDS! (your feet will thank you)

Try to label your electronic items.  Power strips, cell phone chargers, etc. all look the same and can easily disappear.  I use Mabel’s Labels to label my electronics and luggage.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is the swag you will pick up at BlogHer.  It is no joke that you will return with several items, so  make sure you leave extra space in your suitcase or prepare to ship these babies home.

 

What to Wear

{advice from Haley}

What to wear?  I’ve often heard people answer this question with, “Wear whatever you’re comfortable in”, but I think that is bad advice. Some people are comfortable in yoga pants and their old sweatshirt from college, which you can wear, but think about the image you are displaying by doing that. That is not to say that people would be judgmental for dressing casual, but most women and brands attending this conference will be there to network, grow their business, and even start new ones. Think of the BlogHer conference space as one big office space. You should wear clothes that are comfortable for you (if you normally don’t wear heels, don’t buy a pair of stilletos to try to impress people), but that are still acceptable for a casual business setting. You will be meeting new people and making connections this entire conference, so think of that as you are selecting your clothes. For daytime, I recommend a cute top paired with dark tailored jeans or khakis. Capris would be cute, too, with the right top. For evening parties, think more dressy and fun! Cocktail dresses are a norm at the parties-just pair with a cute pair of heels or flats and you’ve got the perfect outfit!

In addition, you don’t have to buy new clothes for the event.  A quick “shopping trip” through your closet will prove successful in finding some great outfits for the conference.  If you do want to buy new clothes, I recommend hitting up TJ Maxx or Marshalls because they have some fabulous deals and will help you shop for conference attire, even on a tight budget.

I always plan my outfits ahead of time. I even choose the jewelry for each one and put it in a ziploc bag. I write the day the outfit is for and what event right on the bag, ie. Thursday- Sessions or Friday Night- Sparklecorn. I then punch a small hole through the baggie and hook it to a hanger. I put my outfits on hangers as soon as I get to the hotel (wrinkles don’t look professional AT ALL). I pack my own hangers since many hotel rooms don’t have enough hangers in the closet for all my outfits. I will put each outfit on the hanger that has the corresponding accessories. Doing this saves a ton of time and keeps me from being indecisive while dressing for an event. There is often very little time available for changing from day to evening and I really think this practice helps.

 

Making a Schedule/Agenda

Making a schedule or agenda before traveling to BlogHer is a must, especially if you plan on attending several parties/events on and off location.  In the past, Haley and I have used Cozi for scheduling our days and if you have a smart phone, they have an app as well.  Some important things to include in your agenda are:

  • flight times & confirmation numbers
  • hotel checkin & checkout times with reservation numbers
  • session descriptions with times & locations (see the preliminary session schedule)
  • breakfast, snack, lunch & dinner breaks
  • party/event times & locations

AND if you want to feel even more organized, you can also add:

  • day & evening outfits
  • personal breaks in hotel room to relax/nap/refresh
  • times for getting ready for evening outings

Cozi is a great scheduling tool.

Swapping Phone Numbers

If this is your very first visit to a blogging event or BlogHer and you haven’t met your blogging buds in real life yet, make sure you swap some phone numbers before leaving.  You may not need to make the calls, but it’s a great safety net if you are feeling alone or having trouble hitting it off with other bloggers.  There will be several people in this boat, so try to connect before BlogHer (follow the #blogher11 hashtag or meet other attendees in our BlogHer ’11 forum), and you won’t feel alone once you show up.  Some attendees also like to make a list of people they would like to meet, which is great, too.

 

::WHAT TO EXPECT::


Over-Stimulation and Chaos

You will soon find out how truly crazy and chaotic BlogHer is once you arrive.  It’s extremely crowded, loud and busy. (hopefully not as crazy as NYC was, though!)  For people like me, I thrive on this kind of energy, but it can still be extremely exhausting.  Know your limits.  If you feel tired or over-stimulated, go to your room and rest.  If you don’t do well in crowded places, prepare yourself now because the crowds are completely unavoidable.  Also, most gatherings will be very loud, so you will need to speak rather loudly to communicate effectively. (and you will probably lose your voice by Saturday night)

Meeting New People and Brands

This is one of my favorite elements of attending conferences.  I love making new contacts and friends, and I love to talk.  This may not be your cup of tea, I understand that, but I do recommend coming out of your shell just a little.  You will be glad you did.  Also, remember that this is a conference for women bloggers, not just mom bloggers.  Because of this, most attendees will not know you and you will not know them.  Do not take this personal, but instead see it as a great opportunity.  Meeting new blood with different experiences and talents is part of what make the blogging community so special and unique.

Don’t take the expo hall for granted.  This is a great place to connect with brands and learn about new products.  These sponsors also make BlogHer possible, so make sure you make time in your schedule to visit.  You may also run into PR representatives or other business contacts at various sessions or parties, so take advantage of these relationships.  The best business ideas and conversations happen over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

Most people will be friendly to you, but be prepared for a few who will not be.  Don’t let it get to you.  Out of the hundreds of people I met at BlogHer the last couple of year, only about 20 or so were rude or unfriendly.  It exists, but you can choose to move on to those who will treat you with respect.

Always have your business cards on you, even at parties.  Last year, I passed out and received over 200 business cards.

Juggling Conference Sessions, Parties and Events

As much as you want to stick to your schedule, you will inevitably get off track due to the craziness that is BlogHer.  You will not be able to attend or see everything and that is okay.  It is simply impossible to do everything because there is so much going on at once.  For example, I only attended two of the six conference sessions in 2009 because I decided to take extra time getting ready for parties and seeing Paula Deen in the expo hall.  Look at your schedule as a guide and if you get off track, you can easily get back on.

Sessions fill up quickly, so make sure you arrive 10-15 minutes (if not earlier) before the session starts.  Last year, attendees were sitting on the floor and standing because the rooms filled up so quickly.

For a current list of BlogHer 2011 parties, check back often here on Mom Spark (subscribe here), as well as our 2011 BlogHer forum.

{advice from Haley} Drink coffee and lots of it, it will save you from crashing mid-morning, especially if you were up until 4 am the night before.

 

Emotions and Confidence

BlogHer is what you make it.  If you allow yourself to have a bad time, you will be disappointed with the conference.  Don’t let people or sessions get to you or make you feel insecure.  Remember, you are the only one that has control over your confidence and emotions.  Make this experience not only fun, but worth your time and money.

You will not be invited to every side party or event that happens during Blogher weekend.  You may never get off of that waiting list.  It’s okay.  There is always plenty of other options and people to chat with.  Use your experience as a building tool to further your blogging career, or just to simply make new friends. Both are equally valuable.

BlogHer was my first blogging conference last year.  I was excited, but very nervous.  It took me a while to get my groove, but once I did and realized I was okay, I had a blast!  The conference opened so many doors for me and introduced me to many friends for life.  I refused to let myself or anyone else get in my way, and because of that I succeeded.  You can, too.

Visuals

For a visual idea of what to expect, see my post-Blogher 2009 post.  You can also see various BlogHer photos on Flickr.

Avoid getting the “Post-Conference Blues” by reading this post.

Questions?

Have questions?  Simply leave a comment and we will be happy to help!  In addition, if you see an area that I did not cover, like how to handle being sponsored, etc., check out BlogHer ’11 forum for more in-depth BlogHer details!

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