We are so excited that the BlogHer Conference is coming back to New York City for 2012!
This will be our fourth year attending this totally unique, crazy, fun, sparkly, inspiring event for women bloggers. The weekend is always basically a whirlwind of attending workshops, partying, networking, drinking, getting swag, drunk networking, blogging, tweeting, drunk tweeting, attending workshops while hungover, and then doing it all again. We know it can be a little overwhelming for the first-timers, so we thought we'd offer some helpful advice to you BlogHer newbies.
This is far from a complete, comprehensive list. There's so much we could say. But these are a few thoughts we had that hopefully will help some of you:
- Unfamiliar with New York? Read the ESC's Guide to New York City. Since we know Manhattan can be a bit overwhelming for some out-of-towners, we thought we'd offer some helpful advice to making the most of your stay in The Big Apple. Check it out here.
- Not sure what to wear? Anything goes, but remember why you're there. If you just want to hang out with your online friends in real life, literally anything goes. We know that pajamas are the official blogger uniform, but if you're hoping to network and connect with sponsors, you might want to look a bit more professional. But overall, BlogHer is relatively casual during the day and it's okay to take it up a notch or two for the evening parties. Remember that NYC in August is going to be very hot and humid, but it will probably be freezing in the hotel's conference rooms. So our advice is dress for the weather but bring along an extra sweater or two.
- Wear comfortable shoes. We can't stress this enough. Sure, pack those sexy heels for an evening party, but you might want to have a pair of flip flops stashed in your purse just in case. (Yes, we've learned this one the hard way...more than once.)
- Pack band-aids and painkillers. Especially if you neglected to follow our above advice and wear comfortable shoes. But also - BlogHer can be exhausting on the mind and the body. There's a lot of walking, lots of carrying around heavy tote bags full of laptops and swag, you probably aren't going to get enough sleep and you may very well wake up with a hangover. So you're going to want to have a hefty supply of painkillers. We never travel without a giant bottle of Excedrin. (The preceding comment was not sponsored by Excedrin. But if anyone from Excedrin is reading this, they should totally call us.)
- Be open to trying new things and meeting new people. BlogHer is so big and over the top that it can be really overwhelming, especially if it's your first time. And many of the attendees already know each other, so it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone's already got their cliques and you won't fit in or make friends. Luckily, that's not the case at all. Almost everyone at BlogHer is really friendly and approachable, even the most "Internet famous" bloggers. (And those few who aren't are probably having issues that have nothing to do with you, or are people you wouldn't want to be friends with anyway.) So don't be afraid to walk right up to someone that you want to meet and introduce yourself, or to join a random group at a party or say "hey, is this seat taken?" We've made some great connections with amazing people just by sitting down at a half-empty table at breakfast or lunch. Put yourself out there and you will, as we always like to say, find your people.
- Prepare your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short summary of you and your blog (the name comes from the idea that you should be able to deliver it within the time it takes to ride an elevator with a stranger). Some people think of it as a mini-mission statement, but really it's just a quick way to tell people what your blog is all about because you're not always going to have time to get into a long conversation. This is good to have always, but at BlogHer it is especially important because of the sheer amount of people that attend every year. (Last year there were about 4,000 attendees.) Think about what you might say, test it out, and tweak it if you need to.
- Bring business cards. Even if you think you won't need them, even if you think no one cares about you and your little blog. even if you think they're a waste of money. Trust us, people are going to give you their cards and you'll be kicking yourself if you don't bring any. You can find some pretty good deals on Vistaprint, Zazzle or Moo.
- Make a schedule. We definitely recommend you make a list of all the sessions you want to go to, all the parties you want to attend, and all the other stuff you need to fit in your busy busy weekend at BlogHer. Include room numbers on the schedule and any other details you might need. There is so much going on at BlogHer that you really need to keep track of it all or you might miss something important. So definitely make a schedule... but then...
- Break your schedule. You don't have to do everything. It's okay to sleep in if you feel the need, it's okay to skip that fifth party, it's okay to sit out one session to have a great chat with friends or grab a cup of coffee or take a nap. The goal of BlogHer is to get out of it what you want to get out of it. If you completely overdo it, you'll go home burnt out instead of inspired and invigorated. So instead of worrying about checking off everything on your list, prioritize and decide what's most important.
- If you don't already have a smartphone, get one. There isn't a better time to invest in a smartphone than right before BlogHer. Not only is it really helpful to have Internet access while you're out and about (and a phone is a lot lighter than a laptop) but there are a number of helpful apps for your phone that will really come in handy while you're there. For starters, there's the official BlogHer'12 application and there are a number of other apps that you probably want to start loading to your phones now. We've given an extensive list in our ESC's Guide to NYC blogs, you should check them out.
- Use the hashtag #blogher12 on Twitter before, during and after the conference. Many of the sessions will have their own hashtags as well, so feel free to check out what people are livetweeting (or post some tweets yourself). Twitter is a great way to get in touch with other attendees who you'd like to meet and is a great way to keep in touch with those attendees you did meet. We used to go through business cards and follow everybody at the end of the day or after the conference, but now that so many people have smartphones we're sure there's going to be a lot of insta-following going on. Twitter's also a good way to keep up with sponsor promotions and contests, flashmobs, and all of the other random fun stuff that pops up throughout the day.
- Leave a little extra space in your luggage. You might need that additional room for any swag you pick up at the Expo Hall or at private parties. (If it's your first year, leave yourself more space than you think you'll need. Trust us.) But remember that you don't have to take everything that is offered to you. It's okay to say "no thank you" and BlogHer usually has a "Swag Recycling Room" where you can drop off anything you don't want to take home. If you're flying home, be cautious of what you pack in your carry-on luggage. (We remember one year the TSA confiscated everyone's free Playdoh.)
- Come talk to us! We're always excited to catch up with old friends at conferences like this, but we also love making new ones. So even if you don't already know us, come find us - we want to meet you. If you read our blog or follow us on Twitter or just stumbled upon this one blog and liked it... come find us at BlogHer or send us a DM or @ tweet. We are also more than happy to answer any NYC-related questions!