How To Get The Most Out Of BlogHer 2010, Businesswise
I had been hesitant to write about the upcoming BlogHer conference because 1) it seems like everybody is already cashing in on the preBlogHer tip posts and 2) there’s already far more anxiety floating around than this conference is worth. But, nobody that I’m aware of has really addressed it from a getting your money’s worth from a business angle yet, so I thought I’d offer my thoughts on that, for what it’s worth.
1. Everybody You Meet Is A Potential Contact, So Treat Them Respectfully.
The same rules of common courtesy that apply to all contacts in the blogosphere apply even moreso in person. Smile, say hello, give your business card to people who ask for it. If you see somebody looking lonely in the corner, endeavor to break out of your social phobias to invite them to join you. [By the way, if you see me at BlogHer and I’m unfriendly to you, there’s an excellent chance it’s because I’m obsessing about myself and something stupid I’ve done. Many bloggers are like this, there are very few of us who are fit to be around other humans.]
You are going to meet all kinds of different people at conferences, and many of them are going to have vastly different backgrounds from you. This does not mean they are not potential business contacts for you. They might be a reader, they might be an advertiser, or they might know an advertiser, or they might be somebody who is friends with somebody who can help you get a spot on a conference panel someday. At the very least, they are other people who share, in a really general sense, an interest with you. You don’t have to become best friends with them, but you do need to be respectful of them and their time. Every year you hear about somebody who says something like, “I’ve never heard of you,” or something to another conference goer. Those people live to regret those kinds of statements.
2. Notes Are Not Likely To Be Necessary Unless You Need Direct Quotes For A Post
I saw something somewhere about taking notes in sessions for BlogHer. No. You do not need to do this. Trust me on this. The only reason you will want to do this is if you are liveblogging the session, or if you want to directly quote somebody for a post. Otherwise, the material is definitely not so complex as to require notes. You might need to remember somebody’s name, I suppose, if you’re not already familiar with a panelist. But trust me, at BlogHer the material covered is not revolutionary material. And even if it were, there are no tests.
3. Networking Is The Biggest Bang For Your Buck At BlogHer
Though there are a huge number of people at BlogHer, there is not a ton of valuable information disseminated at the formal conference sessions, in my opinion — at least not in comparison to other conferences. The scale is just too big. The people who have the valuable information are too busy. They have too many people vying for their time to discuss stuff with you at this conference in detail. The best thing you can do for yourself, then, is get yourself out there and known with a bunch of people at this conference. Make friends, become involved, participate in a bunch of activities, get people interested in you so that when you go home they will want to visit your blog. As a result of going to BlogHer, my experience was that I had an increased amount of visibility in the community last year. This is because I was there, went to events, met other bloggers, talked to PR reps and participated in the discussions before and after the conference. That’s what makes it worth going to the conference. Those things drive traffic to your blog in a way that you cannot achieve other ways.
4. Get To Know Small Business Owners
The Expo hall at BlogHer is full of giant companies with big booths, free samples, and good looking twenty something PR reps who want to get your business card. It’s fine to talk to these people and make connections with them if you want, but don’t expect a whole lot from it. The best leads you are going to get are from smaller business owners who are attending BlogHer — etsy shop owners, smaller boutique owners, people who run their own mommy-oriented businesses who are helping to sponsor an offsite party. Get the names and contact information for those people if at all possible, and try to make a connection with them — they are the ones who will be buying ad space from you and looking to partner with you in the future. The huge conglomerates are mostly looking to use you as free ad space, and even when they aren’t, the PR people they send to conferences are not the ones who have much say in anything anyway.
Good luck, and I hope to see you all there!