Wednesday, August 3, 2016

10 Ways to Make the Most of BlogHer16

I can't believe that tomorrow, I'll head to LA with one of my best gal pals to attend my second BlogHer conference. This will be my friend's first time, and it dawned on me that even though I've only been once, I have a few tips that can help make it less overwhelming. 

Have a great time, ladies! If you have other tips to add, please comment and share!

  • Prepare yourself for an amazing, supportive community of women. Until BlogHer15, I will confess that I wasn't exactly keen on large groups of women. However, the women of BlogHer are the most positive, supportive group I've ever met. It's not about being catty and competitive; it's about encouraging others to achieve their dreams and meet their goals. The entire event feels like one gigantic group hug from your cool aunt who smells like nice perfume and baked cookies. 
  • Download the BlogHer app. Look at the schedule ahead of time and prioritize so you don't get overwhelmed.  If you're with a friend, maximize having two of you and split up and share notes on sessions so you don't miss anything valuable. 
  • Engage SociallyRita Arens wrote this terrific blog on how to best engage socially.  Follow new bloggers and companies, and post nice things about them.  By scratching backs in a social sense, you'll find that people will be willing to scratch your back in return. It's a virtual love fest out there, ladies. If you have business cards, bring 'em, but it's no crime not to have cards. Many people choose not to have cards anymore. If you don't, be ready with an easy way to swap information with people you want to stay in touch with. You can take a photo of yourself with your blog title to pull up on your phone (I like the app Typorama). Make it easy for people to stay in touch. 
  • Be kind to your feet. I'm a huge fan of cute heels but last year I was smart enough to pack some attractive but extremely comfortable shoes for the daytime events, and I was really glad I did. Bring several pairs of shoes so you give your feet a rest. Save your dancing shoes for the evening events!
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Introduce yourself. Make new friends.  I'm extremely extroverted, but in social situations where I'm alone (I went alone last year), I can just as easily hide in my phone and avoid meeting new people. Last year I forced myself to keep my phone in my bag so I could meet new people, and I met some of the most amazing new friends that way. Many, many women attend BlogHer by themselves; just go to the parties and start networking and you'll have great new friends in no time.
  • Pace yourself on the beverages. Last year, I saw a few girls on the first night who plastered, and I remember watching them and thinking they would be hating themselves the next day. And then damn it if I didn't have one too many after the second night when I discovered an open mic followed by karaoke. It's very easy to get swept up in the moment, but you need to maximize your time there, so do you best not to spend your time there nursing a hangover. Trust me!  At the very least, alternate with glasses of water. Your skin (and liver) will thank you the next day! 
  • Bring an extra empty bag to haul home the freebies/giveaways.  I'm normally not a big fan of promotional items, but BlogHer brings some really fantastic companies and giveaways. Last year, I was so overloaded that I ended up giving a lot of my stuff away to a friend who lived in New York, and I still had to go buy an extra suitcase for the things I wanted to keep.  
  • Challenge yourself to accept new ideas.  Last year, I met some women who truly challenged me to look at things differently. A diverse group of us sat over wine and discussed racial tensions and how we could make things better.  The conversation got feisty at times, but it's those times when we are out of our comfort zones where we grow the most. I left that conversation with a deeper understanding of how women of color feel about racism. It was powerful. 
  • Have a plan for taking notes. My gal pal who's going with me this year asked if I had my laptop with me the whole time, and I think I carried it with me during the day sessions but probably didn't need it. I always keep a notebook with me for quotes, and tweeted in real time when it was doable. The most important thing is that you won't remember everything you saw and learned, so be sure you have a plan for keeping notes that you can read after the event is over. 
  • Let yourself be a little sleep deprived. My 85 year-old stepfather used to tell us on vacation, "You can sleep when you're dead!" While I'm not an advocate of long-term sleep deprivation, I will admit that I didn't get much sleep during BlogHer15. I was too inspired and excited to sleep; you will be, too!  Soak up every moment of this fantastic opportunity to network and learn from the experts. You won't regret it. 

One last tip: Dance. Dance very chance you can. Nobody cares what you look like. I danced so much last year all by myself at times, and so far, there aren't any gifs of me dancing that are floating around for people to laugh at. 

Have a great time, ladies! I hope to meet you there.


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