Bloggy Boot Camp is fast approaching and I can’t wait! It will be my first time to Baltimore and my second blog conference ever. When I was invited to speak in a panel at the 2009 SITScation in Vegas I thought I could do it. I knew I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the smaller group size and I was excited to meet people I knew that were going. It’s such a fun time at an affordable price, and quick for those of us who need to rush back home to kids. Mama likey. There are four more boot camps planned for this year so far, be sure to check them out!
If you ever DO plan on attending a conference, here are some things that might be important to keep in mind:
-Do check your expectations at the door.
One of the great things about making friends inside your computer is that there are zero expectations. We don’t owe each other anything. We turn our computers on, we comment and email, we banter and have fun, and then we turn our computers off. When you choose to put yourself out there, suddenly you may find you have expectations of people when before there were none. You risk disappointment. Go with an open mind…hopefully you will get to spend time with your favorite blog friends, but it doesn’t always pan out that way.
-Do bring your computer.
…or Iphone or whatever your connection to your cyber friends is. It’s a conference about blogging and guess what everyone will be doing? Mmhmm…if you have a computer you’ll want to bring it along so that you can document and tweet the experience.
-Do exchange cell numbers with blog friends you’re hoping to meet up with.
Tracking down room numbers for “Jen from Buried With Children” is not as easy as it sounds.
-Do open yourself up.
Many of us are introverts…putting ourselves “out” there is nerve racking and we feel vulnerable, but nobody will get to know you OR your blog if you curl up in the corner and bite your nails. Get comfortable, smile, and by gosh introduce yourself!
-Don’t bite your nails.
You look nervous and unapproachable…not to mention un-hygenic. And yes I’m talking to myself. And yes I just made that word up.
-Do introduce yourself by name AND by blog…or twitter ID
It’s SO different seeing people in person. A lot of us recognize each other online by the cute names we’ve established on Twitter and by the titles of our blogs so use them.
-Do bring me gifts.
If I happen to be attending the blog conference you have in mind it is entirely appropriate to bring me gifts. Jewelry, chocolate, and of course aprons are always welcome. Cash is preferred.
-Don’t worry about how fat you are.
Newsflash: Most of us are so concerned with our own nerves (meeting people for the first time) and our own insecurities (feeling fat) that the way YOU look doesn’t even come into play. We all know women can be brutal when it comes to appearance, but the purpose of blogging conferences is to connect with online friends in real life and to learn more about this craft we all love. Nobody is going to pay that much money just to go and tear each other down. Love each other. We’re friends. Remember that.
-Do connect with conference attendees before you go.
Find out who’s going to be at the conference you’re attending and take time to familiarize yourself with some of their blogs. Recognizing the people you are meeting will help you feel more comfortable. The experience is definitely more enjoyable when there are people you can talk to and laugh with.
-Don’t laugh in the middle of a speaker’s presentation.
Even if it’s because the person sitting next to you passed you a note telling you she thinks she’s peed her pants for lack of break…the presenter may or may not think you’re laughing at HER and she may or may not unfollow you on Twitter the following Monday.
-Do laugh in the middle of MY speaking presentation.
It will take the attention off my face. Pointing is not appreciated but gentle laughter is okay. I’ll have cue cards. I will also assign two or three individuals to randomly call out phrases of my choice like “I LOVE YOU MAMA KAT!” or “YOU’RE DOING GREAT!” This will kill some time as I acknowledge the flattery and then insist you settle down so we can continue as planned.
-Do give me a standing ovation.
You will need to stretch your legs and it will make me look really good.
-Do be prepared to spend some time alone.
If you haven’t connected with anyone going to the conference, and have not made arrangements for evening plans, then be prepared to have some down time. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Shoot an evening in a hotel room on a King sized bed with room service sounds wonderful most nights! But if being alone is going to make you feel lonely than I suggest you make plans in advance to avoid that.
-Do take notes.
You should leave the conference feeling inspired and ready to apply the things you learned to your own blog. There’s no way you will remember all the great tidbits from all the great speakers. Write them down and refer to them later when you’re in need of inspiration.
-Don’t tell people they look “different” in real life.
This leaves all kinds of open ended assumptions. Am I prettier on my blog? Do I look fat to you now? Are you calling me ugly? Am I ugly on my blog? What exactly do you mean by “different”. Just please. Refrain from speaking these observations.
-Do blog about your experience.
Everyone wants to know the scoop. Who did you meet? What did you learn? Was it worth the expense? Would you do it again? Inquiring minds want to know and the people behind the brains of the conference are always looking to improve it. Your input is valuable!
What advice would YOU give someone going to a blog conference and would you ever go to one?