February 9, 2014

Conference Newbie to Semi-Pro in 5 Weeks

By Mandy

In January I was a conference virgin. I had read all about them on other blogs and on Twitter, but had never been to one in person. The excitement that seems to swirl around them was intoxicating to me. I wanted a piece of the action – partly to see what the all the hubbub was, and partly to really learn about becoming a better blogger.

I first signed up for Fitbloggin’ – a conference that was being held relatively close to me. Several of my online friends were attending, and I was beyond thrilled to sign up and get a chance to meet them, plus learn about subjects near to my heart.

Then, the perfect opportunity fell in my lap – the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. I am a big Disney fan, along with my family, so that conference was a perfect fit for us. We rescheduled our big family vacation and made it fall in line with the conference date, then I registered.

And then I found out that the SITS girls were coming to Baltimore too. How could I pass up on going to Bloggy Boot Camp when I heard such great things about Sitscation? I just couldn’t!

I was going to go from newbie to semi-pro in the matter of 5 weeks. Five weeks!

Then I realized, when the haze of excitement lifted for a moment, that I was new to all of this. I had no idea what to do in a conference – barely any idea of how to run my blog, for that matter.

I. Was. Doomed.

I went on and on in my head and to close friends about my questions. I probably drove most of them mad. I certainly made myself a little … twitchy. “What do I bring? What do I wear? What do I say? What will it be like?” And on, and on, and on.

To save you from some of your sanity, I’ll pass on what I learn after each conference. Check back later for my tips after Bloggy Boot Camp (held on March 6th) and Fitbloggin (held on March 20th).

Mandy & Marissa

Courtesy of Mandy

I just got back from the Disney Social Media Moms conference, so the tidbits I learned are here:

  • Make friends. Connect via Twitter or blog-hopping before an event. Even if you don’t talk much, it will give you a jump-off point when meeting fellow attendees. “You’re the one with the cute avatar” or “I love your post about…” If you are shy, tweet that you’re nervous, along with the conference hashtag, and you are bound to get a reply from another Nervous Nelly. (I was so happy I did this, if only for helping me realize I wasn’t the only one.) If you’re extra lucky, you’ll be able to latch on to each other for support during the conference as well.
  • Be physically prepared. Everyone seems to have business cards – that’s a whole other post on it’s own, but it’s a consideration. (I made a cute basic set with VistaPrint, that arrived quickly.) Charge your cell phone, bring your camera and its charger or more batteries. If you bring your laptop, don’t forget the power supply, maybe a power strip as well. A pad of paper and pen are a perfectly good option for note taking as well – possibly the best option depending on the meeting room.
  • Be mentally prepared. Wear clothes that you love. Dress comfortably, or stylish, or what ever – just pick something that isn’t going to distract you, or have you tugging and pulling all day. (This includes undergarments. Trust me.) Prepare a few one-liners that you can use when you meet someone new to get the conversation flowing. “Is this your first conference? Do you live nearby? What do you blog about?” Pretend that you are outgoing, even if you aren’t. It will give you just enough of a push to say hello to a potential new friend.

Most importantly, know that we are all the same. Just people trying to learn a little something or make a connection. I confessed after the Disney event on Twitter that I was too shy to say hello to one of the hosts – a much, much bigger blogger than I. She responded that I should only be worried about the big hugs she gives. I get a second chance to say hello to her at Bloggy Boot Camp. I won’t pass up the opportunity again – expect a report on the hug soon!

About the Author:
Mandy blogs at I’d Rather Be Crafting about parenting, health, and life – with a tiny bit of craftiness sprinkled in for good measure. She is a social media junky, and loves to make connections – find her on Twitter (@LastMinuteMandy) and say hello! She lives life in the suburbs of Maryland as a mom to two beautiful girls, a wife to a wonderful husband, and a wearer of many hats.

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  1. Love this article and love you Mandy!! Such great tips that I look forward to using at Fitbloggin as you know will be my first!!! Ahhhhh:) Thank you for posting this!

  2. Great tips! thanks! I will be attending my first conference in August; Blogher10! definitely nervous, and excited

    • Admin says:

      So many of you are going to BlogHer for your first conference. How fun! Can’t wait to hear what you all thought! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Thanks for the tips. I’m going to BlogHer in August…it will be my very first conference. I’m so excited/nervous. This was very hepful!!

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