How to survive a blog conference weekend

Blogging is a funny creature, and at one point or another temptation will hearken for spending a Saturday learning stuff and you may just find yourself sat behind a school desk in your spare time of your own free will. Don’t believe me? It’s totally true. Ploughing the fields of SEO strategy, photography tips, basic accountancy, a touch of history, social media workshops – all the blogging buzzwords (and occasionally a few of those too).

How to survive a blog conference weekend

 
But even after 3 years of being involved in the blogging community, introducing myself into a room of strangers makes me break out in a cold sweat. I’ve often called my better half 5 minutes before the start of a morning to squeal howIcan’tpossiblydothisbecauseIdon’tknowanyoneandwhyonearthdoIputmyselfthroughthis!?. Luckily he usually calms me down by telling that I’m an idiot, to go for an hour and see how I feel – much like a parent on their child’s first day at school. Half an hour later I’m happily playing chatting away and get the ‘told you so’ text of support and vindication.

How to survive a blog conference weekend
Back walking through the school corridors…

Over the years I’ve made myself push through the barrier, and been helped by a few tips from friends when faced with a room of 150 smiling faces. In reality, I guess a lot of these apply to the professional world too (except possibly the snacks, play that one by air)

  • Don’t sweat the fashion choices Wear an outfit you love and are are comfortable in, and for the record 80’s power shoulders are not essential (unless that’s your medium of self expression – if so, by all means). You’ll be in a room full of equally shy social media mavens who are more probably more worried about dripping coffee down their own fronts.
  • Wear a statement piece A funky necklace, fascinating handbag or a legendary belt buckle – they make for wonderful ice-breakers.
  • Take it all with a pinch of salt Listen to the lectures bearing in mind that sometimes you may only take away a couple of points from two hours of presentations. Sometimes you’ll take many many more, sometimes you’ll take none. Sometimes the chance discussions with other bloggers will be wonderful…

How to survive a blog conference weekend

  • The breaks are often the best fun A chance to say hey to old friends and make new ones. Just put your hand out to shake and tell them your name!
  • Snacks are totally appropriate to take. We Bloggers like sharers *hint hint*
  • Know who you are, a bit You’ll probably need a quick elevator pitch to describe your blog; to give people a quick flavour of your blog. So mine is usually a mumbled “The explorations of an expat in London; foodie adventures, travel, quirky finds and too much coffee.
  • You’ll always learn something. Even it’s just how to balance coffee, cupcakes, a smartphone, a handbag, timetable, trying to engage in witty conversation and laughing like a goofball all at the same time.
How to survive a blog conference weekend
A surprisingly apt fortune cookie on Saturday…
  • Business cards can sometimes be handy But aren’t essential – if in doubt just add your new friend on Twitter.
  • Stalk people. Well, not actual stalking (people tend to not appreciate it when you turn up on their couch) but use the conference hashtag beforehand to see if someone you want to say ‘hey’ to is there. If ya can’t find them, Tweet them a rendezvous point. Don’t do what I did on Saturday and realise how many people I had missed… on the bus home *waves*
  • Stalk people #2 If you see someone standing alone feeling a bit awkward next to where you’re standing awkwardly, moan about how awkward the situation is. BINGO, friend!
  • Take a pen & paper. So old school, so handy…
  • Afters. Don’t be afraid to follow up the event with an email or Tweet to the people you’ve met.

If in doubt, grab a cuppa, take a seat, begin drafting a post or two while you wait for the next class and smile.

Now I just need to remember a few of these next time…

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