Four weeks until BlogHer, and there are Pre-BlogHer posts popping up already. And for good reason. Every year, there are a ton of pre-Blogher freakout posts and then a gaggle of seasoned bloggers who offer to help new BlogHer conference attendees prepare for what can seem like a daunting and overwhelming experience with a few virtual Xanax.
So since this will be my fourth time, I figured I'd throw my hat into the ring and offer my own advice on how to deal with BlogHer-induced anxiety.
Every year, you'll find no shortage of posts with BlogHers freaking out about what to wear. If you rarely leave the house for anything other than school drop off and the grocery store or look like you always just left the gym, you might want to snazz up your wardrobe, but don't feel like you need to get dressed up to sit in a hotel conference room.
For the cocktail parties you might want something a little nicer, but don't go searching for a full length evening gown. Something simple and flattering that you don't mind getting photographed in (we're bloggers, we take lots of pictures, see #4) should work just fine. And wear comfortable shoes. You'll be surprised at how much you'll be standing.
2. Don't be embarrassed to look at someone's name tag. We all have to do it.
There's just no sly way of getting around the name tag chicken head bob. Some have perfected it, while others will just look like they're trying to match your boobs with your face. Don't be offended if someone doesn't know who you are. We all know the pictures most people put on their blogs are from 2001 before we all had kids and double chins. And while what you write on your blog is extremely awesome, you shouldn't feel bad if someone doesn't remember what you wrote about on your last post. Most of us are lucky to have time to read emails from our own mothers let alone blogs these days.
And don't worry if you don't know who someone is. We're all running on half a brain cell anyway. The name tags are there for a reason, so use them.
3. Birds of a feather flock together. That doesn't mean we're all in high school again.
I've never quite understood why people get their panties in a wad about bloggers who happen to be friends who happen to hang out together at BlogHer. It has little to do with them trying to avoid you or being mean to you or excluding you from all their "hip cool parties" (that ps you're invited to anyway), and more with the fact that some bloggers are better friends.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't go say "hello" or introduce yourself, or join in on a discussion. Just don't follow them into a bathroom stall or try to touch their boob. That generally doesn't go over well. At least with most bloggers, anyway.
4. Don't do anything that you might not want written about or photographed because, um, it's a blogging conference.
I remember the first year I went to BlogHer, I was shocked to see so many people on their computers, even during the sessions. And then I remembered that it's a blogging conference, so people are, well, blogging. And taking pictures. A lot. That doesn't mean you can't be yourself, but if you so happen to get wasted, and then pass out on the bed, don't be surprised if people put stuff all over you and take pictures and then write about it on their blogs. Just sayin'.
5. Hoard food
For some reason, there always seems to be a lack of food at BlogHer. And while I love a tasty beverage or 27, I still need actual food. And not just bagels and diet water. Maybe it's because I've been pregnant or breastfeeding at every BlogHer conference, but there just never seems to be enough food.
So find a suite in the afternoon, leave early and grab dinner before the cocktail parties, or find something small at the hotel restaurant. But don't expect there to be masses of food at this particular conference. In fact, if you're looking for good swag, hand out protein bars or turkey sausages with your logo. I'm betting you'd do pretty well.
6. You don't need to go to everything. In fact, it might not be humanly possible.
I took one glance at the Blogher 2009 party schedule for this year and nearly fell over. Aside from the conference sessions, exhibit booths, and 4000 other BlogHer sponsored events, you've got a slew of other parties and suites and Xanadu orgies to deal with. So pace yourself, and don't get upset if you can't go to everything. You'll find yourself missing out on good quality time with the people you came to see. And if you do try to go to everything, you don't need to be the last one to leave. There are no awards for that.
So don't feel bad if you have to skip a session or two and head out to lunch with some friends, or tell the friendly PR person that you can only chat about their extremely important service for five minutes and not the entire afternoon.
7. Leave room for swag.
One of the fun parts of BlogHer is all the goodies you get to bring home. Of course, I'd much rather stuff a Her Bad Mother and a Redneck Mommy in my suitcase, but I suppose a blue tooth headset, potholder, and computer laptop bag are just as good as a couple of Canadians.
Every year, there seems to be more and more swag, and as someone who has a little problem with being overwhelmed by too much stuff, it can be just that, overwhelming. So if you want to bring it all home, pack an extra bag. Or take some time before you leave and sift through what you really want.
On the bright side, you won't have to worry about bringing back anything for your kids. You'll have plenty of goodies to pawn off as "cool presents I searched long and hard through all of Chicago to find just for you."
8. Bloggers are weird. That's why they blog.
You might end up being surprised at how different people may be from their blog. Some folks are just as equally outgoing and friendly, while others might be super open on their blog and then quite reserved in person. It's not because they're being a dick. Well, for the most part. (ha). Some people get a little nervous when they're mingling in big crowds and meeting new people. Just give them a few drink tickets before you make a snap judgment about their personality.
9. If you blog about it, someone will find it.
It seems as though it can't be a BlogHer without some snafu of sorts - someone pissed off someone else or said something and so they wrote about it on their blog that nobody ever reads.
Well guess what? You're at a freaking blogging conference, so people will find it. Plus, thanks to Twitter, the connector of everyone friends or not, it'll be quickly broadcast.
So if you've had a not-so-nice experience, think twice before you whine on your blog. Especially while you're still at the conference. At least wait until you get home to cause hate wars.
10. If your name ain't on the agenda, feel free to make comments and questions, not free bonus presentations or self-promoting speeches.
With so many opinionated people in one place, there are bound to be differences of opinion during the sessions. And aside from the panelists sharing their expertise and experiences, it's definitely the discussion that makes the panels interesting. But unless you're up on the stage with a microphone, don't use the floor as a platform to promote yourself, your blog, or your sponsor. It's perfectly fine to say who you are and where you write, but don't take the panel away from the people who are actually on the agenda as panelists. Make your comment or statement, and/or ask a question, and then allow the presenters to answer. If you've got more to add, write about it on your blog later. That's generally what those things are good for.
Bonus! 11. Don't pitch your friends *New for 2009*
Given the slew of bloggers who are being sponsored (including me), I feel the need to add this little snippet. In years past, I've had people I know and read daily give me their business card, which I think is sort of silly because, well, I know you. A condom lollipop or beer bottle opener is one thing, but no need to give me your personal information on a card (which I already know). Save your business cards for the new contacts.
And regardless of what you've been asked to do by your sponsor, don't pitch your friends. I suppose if there's anyone that should understand it will be the people you're closest to, but they're also the ones that will write about you being a goofy whore.
You want more about BlogHers past? Check out my post-BlogHer awards.