This is the time of year for Blog Conferences, or a certain very large Blog Conference known as BlogHer. This will be my 3rd BlogHer conference. I learn something new every year, but many things are always the same. I was never really worried about attending blog conferences, because I have survived formal recruitment, or for the non-Greeks, Sorority Rush.
Every summer before school started at our University, we would have workshops, and practices. Sororities are very serious about formal recruitment. By the end of the summer, we were polished in our speaking, interview skills, and theme songs. Seriously, even my husband still knows my Sorority songs.
Top 10 List on Why Blog Conferences and Sorority Rush Are Similar
1. Name Tags
I wore a name tag throughout Sorority Rush. Luckily my name is pretty easy to pronounce, and my maiden last name is plain. It was always hard for me to pronounce people’s names. For potential new members in my sorority, I had to pay attention to their names and relate them to “what they were wearing, where they grew up etc”.
Everyone will be wearing those “Official Name Tags.” You know the kind, where you are staring at someone’s chest, trying to figure out who they are. I’ve met hundreds of people at blog conferences and I still forget people’s names. Don’t be embarrassed. It happens to everyone. Many people do not use their real names in the blog world. Their name tags may only have their blog name or Twitter ID on them. People never call me by my real name anymore, I get called “Angry Julie” mostly.
2. Your “Best Clothes”
During Sorority Rush, I wore dresses every day. I didn’t wear formal dresses, but more in the line of “business casual” with cute shoes and accessories. I didn’t show up in my usual jeans, t-shirt, and flip-flops. I was trying to give a good first impression.
Although you may be blogging from home in your sweatpants, and dirty t-shirts, those are probably not the best things to wear to a blog conference. If you blog for business, or want to blog more professionally, dress the part. I suggest wearing something along the lines of “business casual” with some accessories, and brushing your hair. People will remember what you wore, and you will most likely be photographed in these clothes. I’m one of those shutterbugs, and I take LOTS OF PICTURES at blog conferences.
During Sorority Rush the most common questions are: What is your name? Where are you from? What high school did you go to? What is your major? Why do you want to join a sorority? These questions begin simple, and they get more involved once you spend more time at a particular sorority.
At a blog conference, you hear these questions: What is your name? What is the name of your blog? What is your blog about? Why are you here at BlogHer, or other conference? You need to have your “Elevator Pitch” ready.
When you really need to be ready for is “Awkward Conversations”. There are a ton of things to do and see while at a blog conference. You need to make the most of your time there. It can be hard when you get stuck in an “awkward conversation” with someone. Come up with a plan ahead of time. Make a signal to your friends that you are attending these events with. I’m not trying to be rude, but I’ve spent 30 minutes talking about randomness when I missing a dinner event, etc.
When I talk about Sorority Rush parties, I don’t mean the kind that comes with red plastic cups and kegs of beer. I’m talking about intimate events where you meet the members of the Sorority. These parties have a certain frame, and you need to make the most out of it. Find people who you can have conversation with, and make sure to ask lots of questions.
I’m sure everyone has heard about “parties” or those special invite-only “brand events” at BlogHer. I’ve been invited to many in the past three years, and I did not attend every party that I was invited to. Just because you are invited, doesn’t mean that you have to go. Pick the invites that relate to you. It doesn’t make sense for me to attend a brand event that caters to diapers. I had the most fun at an event last year held in a penthouse (ok it was private) with a small group of people. I formed so many friendships from just two hours sitting around chatting at that event.
5. Name Droppers
In College Life, these are the people who say: “My dad paid for the library to be built” and”My mom is an alumna of this sorority, and I’m guaranteed to get in.” You might just want to smack them. I know I did.
In Blog Life, these are the people who say things like: “I invented blogs”, “I’ve been blogging since 2004″ and “I’m in the Top 10 List of This Website XYZ”, and “I’m so awesome on the Internet that I have 50,000 Twitter Followers and I only follow 20 people”. It really makes me want to PIMMAL (Puke In My Mouth A Little).
Honestly, you never truly know everything about someone. Some of these little bloggers or lesser known peeps, they may have their PhD or be a rocket scientist. So the phrase, “I’m big on the Internet” works in this case. I wish I had some t-shirts to hand out to all of the name droppers.
6. Food and Drinks (Drinking)
During Sorority Rush, you will be given finger foods and desserts. You will have the choices of water, punch, sparkling cider, or sometimes lemonade to drink. These type of things don’t sustain you. You have to make sure to get some food in between events. Although alcoholic beverages are not allowed during Official Sorority Rush Events, there will be parties during the week, thrown by the Fraternities. You really don’t want to get wasted drunk and make a fool of yourself in front of your future Sorority Sisters.
BlogHer will feed you breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday, if you purchase a Full Conference Pass. Please make sure that you take advantage of these meals. With the hustle and bustle of speaking panels, brand invites, Official BlogHer Parties, showering, and well, sometimes sleeping...it can be hard to intake food or even find it. Seriously, I need more food than a vegetable platter to make it through the day. Jill and I walked several miles in New York City last year, to get food, and ended up with pizza. Take the time to make REAL dinner plans with your blogging friends. Research restaurants and places to eat in advance. Make a list of choices. A hungry blogger is a cranky blogger. Oh, and the alcohol is flowing. I’ve observed one too many drunk mommy blogger. It is not pretty. People, slow down on the booze.
And it takes me like a WEEK to recover from any and all blog conferences. I have a condition, which Casey has dubbed as “Conference Colon”, it is not pretty.
In College, joining a Sorority or Fraternity is a great place to network. Seriously, alumna(e) are great for job opportunities, mentoring and internships. It was awesome finding a fellow Sorority Sister who has already taken a certain class and can give you some pointers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said as an adult: “So and so is a Sorority Sister or Member of my Sorority, in professional situations. Plus if you move to another state, you always have an instant group of friends with your local Alumna Chapter. The Alumna are great for finding the right schools, doctors, and anything else you might need while transitioning.
One of the main reasons to attend a Blog Conference is for networking purposes. It is the perfect time and place to talk to brand, Public Relations (PR) Representatives, and fellow bloggers. You can make lasting connections through this networking. I can email back and forth with someone for months. But meeting face-to-face and having in-person conversations is PRICELESS. While you are networking, think of the experience as a job interview, and act appropriately.
There will always be cliques or intimate and exclusive groups in school. I don’t think that there is any way of preventing them. While in my Sorority, some of the cliques in our Chapter were based on the Fraternities that we hung out with, and whom other girls were dating. During Sorority Rush, it is easy to spot the different Cliques of girls within a Sorority Chapter. They usually dress or do their hair similar, and are grouped together. As a Sorority Advisor, we tried to make the cliques less obvious, but you can only try so hard with 18-20 year old girls.
Blogging and Blog Conferences bring out the cliques. Some of the cliques are based on niche, geographical location, time blogging, or certain blog networks. Of course, I’m a total wanderer. I’m pretty good at working a crowd, and try to fit in amongst all of the different cliques. I can try as much as I want, but I will never fit in the: homeschooling bloggers, or male bloggers. Moral of the story: find your people, they are out there.
I am woman, hear me roar. I am woman, and I gossip. I cannot tell you a lie. I do.
When you are going into or joining groups in college, gossip can be used for good. It is always good to hear the reputations or gossip about the Sororities that you are potentially joining. Would you want to join a Sorority that has a reputation as being slutty? Me thinks not! You need to go into things educated, but you are also free to make your own individuals choices. Even amongst the best of friends, and Sorority Sisters, there is gossip.
Bloggers are a gossipy bunch…. Conversations such as: “Blogger XYZ is sponsored by big multi-million dollar company”, “Blogger XYZ is writing a book or is going on TV”, might occur at BlogHer. So what! Seriously, I work hard as a personal blogger. It takes time to come up with this mindless dribble the I post here. Can you imagine how much work that it takes to write a book, or get featured on TV? I can’t even fathom it.
10. New Friends
I made some of my best friends during Sorority Rush. I found people who I had things in common with, and even met my Sorority Big Sister, the first day of Rush. My best friend, Stacey, and I met during Alumna events via our Sorority. We bonded over painting the Sorority House, and getting checkbooks in order.
I’ve made some wonderful friends through blogging and blog conferences. I’ve really secured these connections while sitting on the floor or talking in a hallway in between events at BlogHer, Blissdom, and Mom2Summit. My friendship was forged with Tauni last year while taking a taxi from the airport in New York last year at the beginning of BlogHer.
But seriously, I love BlogHer….and I will be wearing all my fanciest dresses, headbands, and shoes just to meet you!!
If you made it through all of my rambling, you might enjoy previous posts that I wrote relating to BlogHer:
- The Fourfecta
- Defining Myself
- I Went To BlogHer and All I Got Was This T-Shirt
- I’m Going To BlogHer…The Angry Julie Edition