Confession: I wholly lifted that title from my first-timer’s guide to attending BlogHer.
Additionally, kicking off a post with a confession makes everyone really confident and comfortable with what’s coming next.
Below I let my uber-nerd show and break down what to expect when you attend the annual BlogHer event.
Please know that this is something silly and refreshing in the midst of the SWAG ATTACK and What I’m Wearing posts currently circulating the ‘sphere. I love reading all of those posts, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted to throw a few pennies into the well of insight for newbies and veterans alike. Newbies may be terrified by this and veterans will, no doubt, smile and nod.
Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything – 42
This is roughly the number of times you will project that someone you met or know of online or think you saw, thinks you’re lame. If that’s not you (and it shouldn’t be), it is more likely the number of times you will overhear someone else projecting that very thing. In my years attending the conference, I’ve noticed a relatively high frequency of self-deprecating remarks about finally meeting someone from inside the computer. Remember that we all talk to each other online on the regular. There should be no reason to drown your unsettled thoughts in 42 mojitos.
If you do decide that you will undoubtedly panic, confide in a buddy about the potential of that happening before it happens. Nothing is worse than going into panic mode and having no support system in place. We all know that sessions and the expo and mingling and trouncing from here to there for this or that can be a bit overwhelming. It’s likely you will panic. Don’t panic about inevitably panicking. Are you panicking yet?
Knowing Where One’s Towel Is
It sort of goes along with the whole “Don’t Panic” thing to always know where your towel is. Your towel, in this case, would be your person. Have a person. Hell, have a few persons. And if you need to carry your person(s) in your tote bag like a purse dog, by all means do it. If your purse happens to not quite be large enough for adult human toting, then I highly suggest sharing a digital calendar so you always know where you can retreat in the event of a panic.
Meeting people for the first time in real life can be mostly harmless. Reuniting with those you’ve connected with in years past? I cannot vouch for any version of harmless that this conference may offer. There will be joy, there will be pain (mostly from witnessing an affectionate tackling in cocktail dresses…mostly physical, a little bit of pride), there will be confusion, there will be elation. Take it all in. Soak it up with every fiber of your being because sometimes it’s worth it for the occasion to only be mostly harmless.
Almost, But Not Quite, Entirely Unlike Tea
Whether you’re attending for personal or professional fulfillment, understand that this behemoth of a conference isn’t so much like a lovely afternoon tea. There will be lots and lots and LOTS of humans there, shuffling and bustling and chattering. Very little about the weekend contains the ambiance of serenity. Be prepared to be a powerhouse if you’re itching to take in a lot on-site and off. We’re lucky that most years, the host city is a fabulous, major metropolis, so there is plenty to do and see beyond the four walls of the event space. Be sure to step outside, but also be prepared for a foot soak in the bath tub after each long day.
Share and Enjoy
There will be plenty of moments that you will want to share. Do it. Share your experience online, with those new faces you meet at a panel, with the speakers/presenters (everyone loves some good old fashioned feedback). Most importantly, enjoy yourself so much that you seem to lose the time to share it all. We’re a plugged in culture, us BlogHer attendees, and sometimes there is an unspoken expectation of real-time documentation. Do not let that “rule” dictate your enjoyment of this whole experience. There will be a time and a place for you to write it all down. Personally, I’ve kept a pocket-size notepad (more recently, with the advent of the smart phone, a virtual sticky note), making sure to jot down those things I want to remember for always. 99% of the time I remember it all without ever having to reference those notes.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Whether you’re coming in at the butt-crack of dawn on the morning of day one and leaving after the final party on day two, or you’ve scheduled in a few shoulder dates to take advantage of the host city, the best thing you’ll take away from the conference is not the stuff you shove into your suitcase. The best thing you will bring home with you will be the memories, the knowledge and the connections. Plain and simple. What you learned, who you met, how you felt as a result of this, that, or the other thing? Those are the invaluable fish you’ll end up taking away from the whole thing. There is not much greater a benefit I have taken away from BlogHers of yore than the wealth of industry knowledge mixed perfectly with the inane shenanigans from time spent with friends and colleauges.