So you're going to Blogher in NYC? Yay! Say what? This is your first bloggity conference? You're nervous? Not sure what to expect? Are the need-to-know type who would like a video demo ahead of time so you can properly prepare for scenarios A, B and C just-in-case?
Hold up, wait a minute... Before you get all overly anxious about WHAT DO I DO? WHAT DO I WEAR? WHAT SESSIONS DO I GO TO? WILL I KNOW ANYONE? OMGROFLWTFLOL!?! let me just calm all your worries with this here guide to Blogher 2010 as someone who has done this a ton of times once. Which practically makes me a pro.
OK, so a pro I am not. Hell, I don't know what *I'm* doing. But what I can tell you is that I did go last year and I must have done SOMETHING right because I had a fantastic time, my only real complaint being that I didn't give myself enough time in Chicago.
First and foremost, no matter what you do, what you see, what parties you attend, what sessions you go to or who you meet, if you learn ANYTHING from this post, know that Blogher is what YOU make it. That's right: It's up to YOU to enjoy yourself - not up to anyone else to make that happen for you. Don't leave your good-timed-ness in NYC in the hands of anyone but you. If you find yourself hanging with people who don't want to do the same things as you? Find others who share your interests. If you find yourself surrounded by drama, leave the scene. If you find yourself fighting for "swag" and then disappointed over what you receive, well then, you're just an ungrateful bitch and you will know better next time. ;)
BEFORE YOU GO TO BLOGHER:
1. ORDER BUSINESS CARDS: You *can* afford them. Zazzle is popular, Overnight Prints (dot) com is super cheap... Be creative with your business cards to make them stand-out. You will want these and I explain why a little later in this post.
2. ARRANGE RIDE SHARE FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE HILTON: Find someone who is going to be arriving at the same airport as you around the same time and share a cab or ride the subway or share a jetpack over to the hotel to cut costs. Added benefit? Immediate conference buddy.
3. MAKE A LIST(S) AND CHECK IT (THEM) TWICE: Lists to make: What to bring (see below), what sessions you want to attend, what parties you RSVP'd for, what nearby restaurants or touristy sites you MUST see, a list of what lists to make, etc. If you're not a list-making-sort-of-person then I'm sorry, we can't be friends.
THINGS TO BRING TO BLOGHER:
1. CASH: Sorry, but you WILL need to eat, have to get around via cab or subway, will want an overpriced snow globe of the Manhattan skyline to bring back to your kid and when you get that many women together in one hotel in one small city (yes, it actually is a small area - that Manhattan) you might even find yourself making an unexpected run to a drug store for t-a-m-p-o-n-s. Also? The cocktail parties might include *one* drink ticket but the rest of the drinks? They cost money. Cha-ching!
2. CAMERA: Bring your best camera equipment, bring a Flip, bring a freaking disposable camera - JUST BRING SOME SORT OF CAMERA. The blackmail photo opportunities will be endless.
3. BUSINESS CARDS: OK, so I didn't hand out my business cards as advantageously as some do at these things, but if you visit the expo (which you should) there are a TON of drawings for free stuff and the way to enter is by dropping in your business card. And we're not talking a free lunch here... last year you could win a set of tires, all kinds of cool photography items, etc.
4. COCKTAIL ATTIRE: No matter what you read on Twitter in the weeks leading up to Blogher ("Why is everyone worried about what they're going to wear? I'll be in my pj's most of the time!" BULLSHIT! Total BULLSHIT.) you will want a LBD or two to wear to the cocktail parties at night. I didn't see a single person in their pj's at these events. You don't have to spend a fortune, but I wouldn't want you to feel out of place by showing up in jeans when everyone else puts on the foo-foo juice at night.
5. EXTRA STRENGTH TYLENOL: Duh.
6. LAPTOP/IPAD/COMPUTING DEVICE: I actually didn't blog at all during Blogher because - go figure - the hotel last year had a hard time keeping up with bandwidth but I did need to unload my camera's memory cards a time or two. And, um, HELLO, this is a blogging conference so... you're gonna get kicked out if you don't show up geeked out. (I kid.)
7. AN EXTRA DUFFLE BAG OR SUITCASE: OK, so I didn't follow this advice last year and I was sorry. Between the swag and the expo goodies, you will undoubtedly need an extra bag or suitcase to bring home your newfound booty. And I am still referring to the swag or expo goodies.
THINGS TO DO AT BLOGHER:
1. BE THE AGGRESSOR: OK, so maybe that's not the *best* way to put it, but like I said before, Blogher is what YOU make it. So don't expect people to come running to you... Introduce yourself to the people you want to meet. Yes, Blogher has great sessions & the keynote is not to be missed but really? Blogher is where you meet IN PERSON the people you've gotten to know via your internet connection for... how long now? EXACTLY. Don't let your shyness stop you.
2. DO NOT MISS THE KEYNOTE: If there's one not-to-be-missed session, it's the big community keynote made up of several bloggers on the first day of the conference. You will walk away completely inspired to be a better writer. I promise.
3. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO AT BLOGHER BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME: I'm not talking Excel spreadsheet or Google Docs crazy necessarily (ahem, you know who you are) but have a good idea of what you absolutely, positively do not want to miss while *also* leaving chunks of time to...
4. LEAVE THE HOTEL: For god sake's you're in NEW YORK CITY, people! See some of the city. Go to lunch somewhere semi-famous. Hike down to Times Square. See how many of the 171 Starbucks in Manhattan you can visit while you're there... You'll be sorry if you don't.
5. MIX AND MINGLE: Don't be afraid to hang around with different people at different times. You don't have to adhere yourself to one group of people for the entire conference. You'll never meet other fabulous people if you do. Interact, mingle, mix, let your hair down and have fun.
6. DON'T WHORE YOURSELF OUT: It's one thing to make contacts and hand-out your business cards as a way of passing along your pertinent information, but it's just plain annoying if you inundate people with business cards, stickers, magnets, balloon animals, belt buckles and friendship bracelets when they simply introduce themselves with a "hi." A lot of people would love to get to know YOU and hang out with YOU while at the conference, not your brand.
7. DON'T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY: For the love of all that is bloggy, please, PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASEY don't expect to go to the conference YOU and come home SUPER FAMOUS WRITER PERSON WITH A BOOK DEAL. You'll be disappointed, no matter how talented and deserving you are.
WHEN YOU GET HOME FROM BLOGHER:
1. POST YOUR PHOTOS, CONSIDERATELY: Everyone will be anxious to see the pics! Where are the pics?! But before you upload every. single. photo. you took at Blogher, have a little discretion and think before posting the pictures "If it were me in this photo, would I want it posted?"
2. DO NOT START BITCHING ABOUT THE AWFUL TIME YOU HAD WHEN a) WE ALL SAW YOU HAVING A GODDAMN *GREAT* TIME FROM THE LOOKS OF IT and, b) I *TOLD YOU* IT WAS UP TO *YOU* TO HAVE A GREAT TIME SO IF YOU DIDN'T, WELL, YOU NEED TO CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF: OK. What? Here's the thing - every year this happens... people get home from the conference and starting tweeting or posting on their blogs these rants about how AWFUL and MISERABLE and WHAT BULLSHIT! OMG! the conference was AND OMG WTF JESUS H CHRIST THE DRAMA! when, um, I saw you there at the conference PERSON and it seemed to me you were having a fucking blast... So? What gives? Don't be ungrateful to the people who worked really hard to put this together and, if you have personal beef with someone, deal with it PRIVATELY and APPROPRIATELY and not in the public tweet stream for us all to watch like a sitcom drama.
3. DO NOT BITCH ABOUT THE SWAG YOU DIDN'T RECEIVE - OR WORSE - THE SWAG YOU DID GET: Oh, I'm sorry... you didn't get a swag bag from Party A or Party B? That happens. But then again, you didn't come to Blogher *just* for the swag, right? And really? You think the little bunny vibrator some company was nice enough to donates HUNDREDS of is a cheap piece of crap? What? You don't use Tide laundry detergent so the samples they were kind enough to give you are just a waste? YOU'RE UNGRATEFUL. If you don't want/need/have room to bring home items, Blogher has a swag drop-off area designated at the conference where you can leave it all behind. But don't bitch about it. That's just in poor taste. In this economy, we should be thanking the companies who are willing to hand-out anything to us.
4. SUPPORT THE PEOPLE YOU MEET: It's funny how you went to the conference hoping to meet - in person - the bloggers/twitterers you've grown to love online but while you're there you will come across DOZENS of bloggers you've never even heard of until now (like, how did I not know YOU?!). So when you get back to normalcy (and it does take like two weeks to recover from Blogher) be sure to add them to your reader, follow them on Twitter, click-through to their blogs, friend them on Facebook, WHATEVER, show them the love.
5. START LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR: Duh. Or, if you really, truly hated it SO MUCH OMG IT WAS SOOOO AWFUL, then please, don't.