BlogHer is an online blogging community, blog, annual blogging conference for women. It started in 2005 and is the biggest, most well known niche blogging conference, with over 3,500 people (about 98% of them women) attending.
I was attending for a number of reasons. A. It’s the biggest game for that niche, which makes it a great place to learn. B. Counterprogramming 101, if everybody is doing this, then you should try doing that. As most of the social media and bloggers there were women, I stood out. C. I was sponsored, thanks Graco for the chance to network in the deep end of the pool. At the end of the conference I learned a couple of lessons that can easily translate into any conference or business setting.
Never underestimate who you are speaking to
I met hundreds of people and sometimes didn’t know exactly what they did or who they were until after they left. Sometimes they would use their twitter handle, other times their blog name or their real name. Because there were so many new people that you’re meeting you had to distill your elevator speech into a two sentence blurb that can be heard in a loud room. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
On those instances where I was talking to people and didn’t know who they were until afterwards I kicked myself. I kicked myself and made it a point to look for them the next day.
Forgive people if they make a bad first impression
Big league bloggers and social media people are busy manic creatures. Sometimes when you meet them they may seem pre occupied, busy or just a bit rude. Don’t get put off if you’re meeting one of the leaders in your respective field and they do something curt or rude. If that happens to you just roll with it and try to chat with that person again later in the conference.
You can never make a bad first impression
Other people can make a bad first impression. You, however, should never make a bad first impression because most people will not give you a second chance. That is why your ability to give people a second chance at a first impression is so important.
Talk to as many people as you can
Meeting people at a social media conference is not difficult. Meeting the right people or those that you can genuinely learn from is a bit more challenging, especially when the crowd is large. Don’t be scared to butt into conversations and randomly comment to people walking the trade show aisles. Also, be sure to talk to all of the vendors in the demonstration/trade show area. Those folks can be your friends and are there to talk to you. Be respectful of their time and do not monopolize the booth space or their zone of conversation. The people in the booths are playing a very high people count game too, get their information, sign up for the freebie and get out.
Conventions are a fabulous place to network and learn a tremendous amount about whatever the subject matter is on. Social media and the online work that it does is magnified when you the opportunity to do things in person. Bring your “A” game, lots of business cards and jump in the deep end, your business will thank you.