You took the plunge and bought a ticket for BlogHER ’12. You are excited to meet all of your blogging friends and live it up in New York City, but you are also trying to pretend you are not totally clueless on how to prepare and what to expect.
Don’t worry, we’ve got the inside scoop for you from a veteran attendee!
Heading into her third year at BlogHER, with a long list of blogging conferences under her super-cute belt, Fadra Nally, blogger at all.things.fadra and blogging specialist at Social Dialect gives us the inside scoop on what to expect, how to plan and, most importantly, what in the world to pack for BlogHER ’12.
SheKnows: This will be your third year attending BlogHER. What keeps you coming back for more every year?
Nally: BlogHer is like the Academy Awards of blog conferences in my mind. It’s a great place to see and be seen, make amazing connections with companies, reunite with old blogging friends and make new ones. And I have to admit, it’s a lot of fun. It’s an opportunity to truly immerse yourself in blogging culture and feel like you are a special part of something.
SheKnows: Do you set personal or business goals for yourself before attending each year?
Nally: The first year I went, I had no expectations. I had heard no stories and, frankly, had no clue what I was getting into and I think it worked to my advantage. The second year, I wanted to do it all. I scoured the Expo Hall, collecting bags and bags of swag. I attended every party I could get an invitation to. It was fun and exhausting, but I left feeling empty. This year, I have both personal and business goals. I want to connect with people on a deeper level, both bloggers and companies. So that might mean doing less but also making the time count more.
SheKnows: What surprised you the most the first year you attended BlogHER?
Nally: I have to be honest. THE STUFF! I’d spent years in the trade show circuit in various industries, so I expected stress balls and keychains and the like. But the swag was over the top. I understand how easy it is to get distracted by the bright, shiny stuff but by the third year, you’re much better equipped to make decisions about the “stuff” you really want.
SheKnows: Do you have any tips on how to organize your trip ahead of time?
Nally: I am typically not a very organized person, but I survive conferences by planning a few things ahead of time. Know what you’re going to wear and pack only that. It will keep you from overpacking and from having to make decisions about what to wear in the midst of all the chaos. And plan out your schedule. Look at parties and sessions and make a physical schedule about where you want to be and when. But don’t plan to excess. Leave some free time to make spur-of-the-moment plans and to explore the Expo Hall.
SheKnows: Are there certain parts of the conference that are “must attend” events for you?
Nally: Personally, I love the Expo Hall. I love getting the chance to learn about new companies and products and giving feedback to the representatives in the hall. And I always run into so many bloggers in there! My favorite tradition is closing the conference with CheeseburgHer. Yes, there are tons of McDonald’s cheeseburgers and French fries for laid-back late-night gabbing.
SheKnows: There is so much talk of parties and swag and private invites. How much should bloggers worry, or not worry, about this aspect of BlogHER?
Nally: There is so much advice out there about what to do and what not to do. When you buy a ticket, you’re obligated to do one thing: Make it your own conference and do what you want to do. With that said, it’s never fun to NOT be invited to parties. But it’s always going to happen. Some of my favorite parties are actually the official BlogHer parties! The first year I attended, you actually needed tickets for those parties. Now, the BlogHer parties are open to every attendee, and I think they are fantastic.
SheKnows: Looking at the BlogHER conference schedule, there are so many options available for things to do in such a short time. What advice do you have for first-time attendees who want to make the most of every moment?
Nally: Contrary to what I said about making a schedule, don’t OVER schedule. One of the best moments I had at my first BlogHer conference was when I sat next to a random blogger to grab a quick bite before the session. I ended up not going to the session and learned so much just from having a conversation with a more experienced blogger. Keep an open mind!
SheKnows: And the most important question of all… how should we pack? Casual clothes? Business clothes? Running shoes for chasing after our favorite bloggers?
Nally: There is such a focus on what to wear. I thought about that and realized that I don’t remember a single thing that anyone wore last year. But I remember what *I* wore. Bring clothes that make you feel comfortable and that make you feel good about how you look. When you feel good about yourself, it makes the rest of the conference a piece of cake.