I’ve been to a bunch of conferences for work, and I started diving into the world of blogger conferences two years ago, with BlogHer’12. As I’m rolling into this year’s rather packed itinerary of BlogHer’15 and Blogger Bash running simultaneously in New York City, I figured I’d pass along some basic tips that I have for surviving any conference–but especially those with bloggers. (Yes, bloggers are a different breed from your standard conference-goer.)
Tip #1: Eat and hydrate.
This may seem like it’s pretty obvious, but it’s easy to get distracted. And when the free booze starts flowing, another glass of wine may sound like an awesome idea. Even so, when you find the coveted bottle of water, hang onto that puppy like it’s the stuff of life. You can always refill it from a water cooler or the tap in your hotel room. I can’t count the number of conferences where booze and sodas are readily available but water is not. Dehydration, especially during the summer, is a BAD THING.
Also, make sure that you eat when the opportunities present themselves. It’s easy to eat bad food while traveling, but more and more conferences are attempting to offer healthier options at the buffet. Take advantage of that while you can, because your options when you roam may be more like the dude selling gyros from the cart across the street from the hotel. (Which, by the way, are supposed to be fabulous. Just saying.)
Tip #2: Get a backup battery for your phone.
I’m partial to the Mophie Juice Pack Air that I was turned on to by my friend Lori of My Kinda Rain; she suggested I buy a Mophie before BlogHer’12, and that was a genius purchase. When I get down to 20% on my iPhone, I just flip on my Mophie and it recharges me right back up to 100% in short order. Better still, I can charge the Mophie and phone overnight (simultaneously) using the Mophie’s cable. The downsides are that the battery heats up a bit while it’s charging your phone and the Mophie case is somewhat bulkier than a usual case (although par for the course if you’re used to a large case, like an OtterBox).
When these conferences consist of everyone being on their phone ALL DAY LONG, tweeting, texting, and otherwise connecting with the social media world, your Mophie makes you far less likely to be the sad panda blogger roaming around looking for a wall outlet.
Tip #3: Pack in a bigger bag than you need.
Blogger conferences are notorious for their swag, and some of it just isn’t that easy to carry home without extra luggage space. Sure enough, you can avoid this by heading to the shipping center at the hotel and paying to send the stuff home, but if you just pack in a larger bag than you need for what you’re bringing with you to the conference, there’s built-in space for bringing some (or all) of that swag back. If you anticipate bringing home a lot of stuff, even packing a duffle bag in your primary bag will work; if you don’t need it, you just bring it home. And if you do need it, then hey: you have a duffle bag to carry your stuff.
Tip #4: Use the swag exchange!
For those heading to BlogHer, in particular, there’s often (or always?) a Swag Exchange room set up as a room-sized swag equivalent of the “give a penny, take a penny” cup. Simply report to the Swag Exchange with the items you picked up/were given that you don’t want or need, and drop them off wherever it’s appropriate. (Bins are sometimes organized in categories.)
Looking for something specific? Check the Swag Exchange periodically to see if someone dropped off that item. And don’t be afraid to offer to swap with friends and fellow bloggers. These events can often be one big swag bazaar, and while it may be that you really wanted two of a particular toy to bring home to your kids, you may have something another blogger really wants to bring home to their clan that you can exchange for your own “must-have” item.
And this brings me to the biggest tip of all:
Tip 5: SAY HI TO PEOPLE!
We did an experiment last year, at BlogHer’14, hanging out in front of the Convention Center and saying “Hi!” to fellow bloggers as they walked out onto the street. Some said “Hi” back and others looked at us as though we had the plague. Consider this: even if you’re the most introverted person ever, you’re at a conference. You’re among people who, on some level, are like-minded, and you may just find someone that you truly connect with (like Sadie of SlapDashMom, above left, whom I clicked with instantly). But you’ll never know that if you don’t say HI to people. So get out there and make some friends. Or at least one. You won’t regret it. I know I didn’t.