Preparing for Blog Conferences

In the blogging world there are many opportunities to attend blog conferences all over North America. As a wife and mother living with chronic pain I often end up watching from afar as my friends attend these fabulous events jammed with learning and networking opportunities. Frankly I’d love to attend them all but my family comes first and as last weekend showed I’m often not physically up to it.

Thankfully the very first Canadian Food Bloggers Conference is taking place a mere 10 minutes from my home at Hockley Valley Resort this coming weekend and Canadian Chicken has graciously offered to send me as their Health Ambassador. This is very exciting for me, not just because it’s a weekend which will have ah-mazing food but because I am actually staying at the resort.

One of my first jobs was as a ski rental shop attendant at Hockley Valley, in fact I worked there for 4 years in various positions during ski season. So to go and stay at the resort and relax is something worth looking forward to. I may actually go early in the afternoon just to sit in the lobby sipping a GREAT cup of coffee which I know they serve.

Most blog conferences take place over a few days and include learning sessions and interactive showrooms where bloggers and brands can connect and we can learn about upcoming products and campaigns.speakingnew

Blog Conferences are always something I look forward to, it’s shown to be an amazing opportunity to connect with brands but more importantly to see my amazing online friends face to face and catch up on all that’s been happening with them. I’ve been fortunate enough to be both an attendee and speaker at blog conferences and feel that they have value in each aspect but one really must weigh out the reasons for attending and choose the best conferences for their brands.

One factor of attending a blog conference must be taken into account, the preparation stage. This isn’t simply about choosing your attire, a blogger should also be considering how their blog will function while they’re away, how they’ll present themselves to brands etc.

Preparing Your Blog

  • Blog Housekeeping – You are going to be introducing your blog to some people for the first time. Take some time to do a basic clean up of your blog. Focus on your About page, de-clutter your sidebar and make sure you’re putting your best foot forward with your most current information.
  • Schedule Posts to go live during conferenceWhether you arrange guest posts or write a few before you leave for the conference, you’ll need to keep your blog active while you’re away if you care about daily traffic.
  • Pre-write posts for after conference – If ever you’ve attended a conference you’ll understand the term “Post-Conference Exhaustion”. Following a blog conference you will be tired and filled with new ideas you want to explore. By pre-writing posts you’ll allow yourself the time to do this.

Conference Supplies

  • Business cardsThis is the single most important thing you can bring with you to a blog conference. You will be meeting many people for the first time and you want them to be able to find you once the conference is over. Try to ensure your business cards match your brand, use the same colors, logos and include all contact information which is pertinent.
  • Smart Phone/Pen & Paper – At my first conference I lugged around my laptop and dslr camera, expecting to take copious amounts of notes and lining up the BEST quality photos. The reality is I ended up dumping the load in the corner and using my smartphone. It’s easier to jot down information by hand and tweet out the important information via my smart phone which happens to have an excellent camera.
  • Power cords and chargers – My biggest pet peeve is a dying battery! Most conferences understand we’re all digitally connected and provide outlets or charging stations so bring along those chargers and cords.
  • Bags for Swag – Whether it’s extra room in your suitcase or an empty bag, be sure to leave room for swag. Conference swag can be bulky and usually worth leaving space for!

Networking Pre-Conference

  • Conference Hashtag: Most conferences will have an active hashtag on Twitter where attendees and presenters can get to know one another. Open a column in Tweedeck or Hootsuite to keep up on the pre-conference activity.
  • Twitter list – A simple way to find and follow attendees of the conference is by using the list created by your conference organizer.
  • Reach Out! – Social media is all about relationships and you have something in common with every tweep who is chatting about the conference. Don’t be shy! Reach out and join in the conversations.
  • Make a list of your “Must Meets” – Conferences are busy places and if you don’t have a list of people or brands you want to meet you may overlook them. Make a point to go meet the people or brands you’ve been wanting to connect with, again don’t be shy and remember to make a GREAT first impression.

At the Conference

  • Dress comfortably – Flats are worth the fashion loss!
  • Bring breath mints – Garlic breath isn’t pretty
  • Take notes – Both during sessions and on the back of business cards, make notes to remind yourself of details of conversations you’ll want to remember.
  • Maximize Breaks – Take time during the breaks to connect with people on your list. When possible catch a rest to reflect on the conference up until that point. This will allow you to be in the moment and not get swept up in the busy atmosphere.
  • Give them something to remember you by – Be your brand! As a blogger you’ve created a brand which had better be authentic, be that brand and leave people with a solid impression to remember you by.
  • Be brave – Go up and introduce yourself proudly. It may seem like everyone knows one another but they don’t and remember you’re worth meeting!

How about you, do you have any tips which you could share?


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6 Responses

  1. Julie, these are all fabulous pointers for first-time attendees! I have to agree with you on all of these! My main tips would be:

    Wear comfy shoes!

    Don’t forget to give out your business cards when you meet people.

    Give them something to remember you by/Make sure to leave a lasting impression (I know now you can’t bring outside products that aren’t sponsors of events, but my first conference I brought Manitoulin chocolate for all the tweeps I wanted to meet up with IRL).

    Just be yourself! People at conferences are generally friendly and want to meet up/network too!

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