With T minus a few days until the annual Blogher Conference, I’ve run a quick analysis of the #blogher12 tweet stream to see what the general sentiment is.
The only difference between this year and last year, is about 6% more panic over clothing, this being New York where such things matter.
I feel my obligation here as a seven-time (good God) Blogher attendee and speaker, is to talk you down.
A couple years ago I posted a NYC Blogher Conference FAQ that a few people found helpful. Little has changed in New York since then, although I think the number of attendees has gone from 1500 to something like 4 million, and that $26 burger may now be up to $28. Feel free to refer to that for lots of panic-reducing tips.
This year, I thought I’d flat out tell you the things that a lot of people don’t want to tell you. It’s tough love. It’s a New York thing. Get used to it.
(See how I wrote “get used to it?” Tough love!)
1. Dress to impress.
I said this before and I’ll say it again: Yes, it does matter what you wear. That is not intended to stress you out. But if you’re dressed nicely in New York you’re always ready for anything. I hate those days I think eh, I’ll just wear something crappy today and that’s the very day I run into a long lost friend or get an impromptu invitation to a cool party.
Both of those things, by the way, are exceptionally likely to happen to you over the course of the weekend. Hey, Katie Couric could be like, “you seem cool. Want to hang out in my suite and trade parenting stories?” Stranger things have been known to happen.
Also, will it kill you to brush your hair? And put on some lip gloss? (I’m trying to do my best New York Jewish Mother impression here.)
2. Try really hard to stop writing, tweeting, posting about how nervous you are. Even if you are still panicked about what to wear.
I understand, you’re nervous; a lot of us don’t get out much. We’re not always good in crowds. And hey, we’re bloggers–we reveal our every thought when given the chance. Plus we have unfettered access to social media.
That is a dangerous combination.
You do not see 10,000 people tweeting about how nervous they are before SXSW or all the Hollywood producers tweeting about how they’re freaked out about Cannes. (“OMG do I wear the pink Louboutins or the black ones to Harvey’s party? Help! I AM A MESS!”) If you need to, discuss your panic privately in a Google Hangout with friends. Only don’t call it the “I’m Panicking About Blogher” hangout because that will totally blow your cover.
3. When planning the weekend, know that you don’t have to go to every panel.
If you’re tired or overwhelmed or overextended, rest in your room. Take a walk. Go out for lunch. Or hang out in the lobby and meet some friends. Sometimes the best part of the conference happens outside a meeting room.
4. Go to more panels!
I am always amazed when people go to a conference and don’t bother going to a single panel. Pick wisely and you’ll find yourself motivated, inspired, and probably happy with the level of air conditioning if you’re not stuck in the back.
5. If you miss the Voices of the Year you are a bonehead.
The one thing we all have in common: We blog. And the opportunity to listen to a group of your peers stand up and read their writing is an amazingly grounding, connective, community experience. When I read at the Community Keynote the first year, it was one of the highlights of my life. Sitting in the audience in subsequent years was also a highlight.
The event is not always perfect (another thing no one wants to say), and you won’t connect with every single piece that’s read, but so what. It’s still one of the most wonderful aspects of the entire weekend.
6. Do your best to avoid RSVPing to parties with a line like “I’m sorry I can’t make it but can someone hold me a goodie bag?”
Ask Nicole of Mom Trends about that one.
(edited to add: Also, consider not tweeting endlessly about private parties before the party. It’s great that you’re excited to go to the #BrandXParty with Brad Pitt and a chance to win a free month in Tahiti. But do all your followers need to know that they weren’t invited? Maybe not.)
7. New York > Free Package Goods
If you didn’t get invited to some private party, please don’t mope in your room. New York is the most awesome city in the world. More awesome than free cleaning supplies. More awesome than a jump drive and a branded t-shirt. More awesome than even a free camera. Instead, here are a few very cool things you can do, should you find yourself with a night to yourself.
Yvonne at Sparklecorn. Clearly miserable.
-Gather friends and take a carriage ride through Central Park
-Get drinks at the Top of the Beekman and enjoy the view.
-Take the 1 train down to Christopher Street, find an outdoor cafe, and people watch in the West Village
-Go shopping in Nolita where stores are open late, and stop at Rice to Riches for zillions of flavors of Rice Pudding, like Chocolate Cherry Crime Scene, Coconut Coma, and Fluent in French Toast.
-Take the 2/3 or A/C to the first stop in Brooklyn, wait on line for the best pizza ever and amazing ice cream, then walk back to Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun goes down over the skyline.
-If you’re feeling really intrepid, take the 2/3 into Brooklyn for the #1 Zagat Rated Ice Cream in all of New York.
-Walk the Highline down from 26th Street, visit Chelsea Market, then grab a drink outside at The Standard. Look up at the rooms, and see if you can spot the exhibitionists getting busy with the shades open, for extra points.
-Scavenge for discount Broadway tickets.
-Browse through Time Out NY for shows, comedy, galleries, restaurants, karaoke and more. Warning: you will be jealous that you don’t live here)
-Pay per view. Something not animated. (Chilling out with a movie in your room is not the same as moping, by the way.)
8. If you’re walking the expo floor, there are better ways to say hi, than “Giving stuff away?”
The expo hall is not your own personal packaged goods trick-or-treating route, in which you hold open your pillow case while people dump in samples of baby lotion and frozen sausage coupons. Okay, so it is a little bit. But you know…be cool. Good relationships don’t tend to start with “what can you do for me?” Unless you are Vince Neil picking a groupie after the show. And I don’t know if I’d call that as a good relationship, although he might.
Rock guys are weird.
Similarly, try and avoid questions like, “So, will you sponsor my home kitchen renovation?” or “You know, I really could use a new car, hint hint.”
Sometimes, really, what you get from the expo floor is an awesome photo. That may be enough.
Kristen Chase enjoying the Charmin booth, taking a, uh…well, not a freebie.
9. Yes, there are some jerks at the conference.
Think about other places with several thousand people–Grand Central Station, a sports arena, the DMV at lunch hour. The likelihood that there will be some less than lovely peope in the crowd is pretty good.
However at Blogher, I promise the ratio of non-jerks to jerks is about as good as you’ll ever find. If there’s one guy who interrupts every panel to ask 14 questions–eh, laugh it off. If there’s one marketing consultant who tramples you in an attempt to hand her business card to a sponsor first, you’ll have a good story for later. If there’s one PR person who asks for your Klout score before giving you a coupon, forgive her. She’s learning.
10. The people who say “some bloggers think they’re too cool to talk to you” are insecure and/or full of crap.
I promise, I have only in seven years at this conference met one blogger who I thought was too cool to talk to people; and as it turns out, she has massive anxiety and social issues. I know there are always some women who will complain endlessly about snobs and cliques and whatever and it completely bugs me. I’m sorry if you’re insecure; that’s a terrible feeling. But don’t point fingers at other people just because you’re not comfortable walking up to a half-empty table and asking “is anyone sitting here?” because it brings up some horrible repressed Sophmore year memory.
If anything, what you might witness are friends with long established relationships who want to spend time together the one weekend a year they get that chance. Or what you might be seeing are other people with social anxiety in big groups.
Dancing of course, is the great equalizer. As you will see.
2-D Zack Galifinakis – not too cool to dance with you. Or Heather Clisby
11. If you have a bad time, it’s because you expect to have a bad time.
You get what you give at a conference. Here is my wrap-up of the 2011 Blogher Conference, where I came to realize that your expectations and attitude are the sole determinants of the kind of experience you have. If you are kind, you will find kindness. If you come to learn, you will learn. If you come to be angry about a sponsor you don’t like and sit in a corner ranting about them…well, find a corner and leave the rest of us alone.
But mostly, I think you will find thousands of women there to learn, connect, and maybe dance with 2-D Zack Galifinakis.
12. Wear deodorant.
I say this selfishly. Mostly because I’m not above hugging strangers.
Thanks Huffington Post for including this in your round-up of favorite pre-Blogher conference posts. Honored!