7 Ways to Turn BlogHer Into an Actual Business Trip

07.22.13

blogher 13 header

I’ve been to BlogHer twice. Once in Chicago and another time in San Diego. It’s a massive conference and if you’re new to blogging there are probably a good number of sessions with valuable content for you. If you are not new to blogging there’s a good chance that you believe you know everything there is to know and you will not attend the sessions. This would be a mistake.

If you’re about to take your hard earned money and spend it to a trip to Chicago let me give you a few tips so that you can spend that money soundly.

1. Don’t drink. If you typically have a glass of wine with dinner at home by all means go ahead and have a glass of wine with dinner at BlogHer but this isn’t a sorority party skip the second glass. This is a business conference and you will likely run into people all day and night that are potential partners. Corporations aren’t looking for a party girl, they’re looking for a business woman.

2. You don’t know everything. You’re going to BlogHer to learn so get busy learning. I never want to be a review blogger. I find what they do to be exhausting however review bloggers know a lot about SEO and working with brands. Why wouldn’t I listen to them? Are you a mom blogger? Meet someone whose womb hasn’t gone pro, listen to what they’re doing. We get tunnel vision and BlogHer is a great place to broaden your depth of field. Find someone who you think has nothing to teach you and have your mind blown when they teach you things.

3. Dress Business Casual. Yes, there will be boas and flowers in hair and party dresses and look-at-me outfits. There will also be some very casual outfits, very very casual. Remember, this is not a tech conference so jeans and flip flops is not de riguer. I would never recommend buying new outfits for BlogHer or being the lady with the tiara but I would recommend wearing something that says, “I’m here to work and to network.”

4. Bring pens. Plural you will lose some of them. Stash pens all over your purse. Of course you already have business cards and even if you don’t, don’t panic. The most important thing you can do is use that badge of yours to collect business cards. When you meet someone jot down a note about where you met them or something they said and write it on the card. Each night empty out that badge with the business cards and send folks a little email letting them know it was really nice to meet them along with an explanation of why. Hint: the why should be easy… you know so much about _____ or I enjoyed hearing about your passion for ____.

5. Set appointments with people you want to work with. Did you meet a publicist from a firm that you’re dying to work with? Ask them if they want to have coffee later in the day, all you really need is 20 minutes. Spend 20 minutes listening to them and figuring out if there’s a way you can work together all the while resisting the urge to shoehorn yourself into a role that really won’t fit.

6. Private off site parties aren’t as much fun as you think they are. Well, maybe they are, maybe they aren’t but when you’re off site you’re with a small group and you could be with them for hours without being in control of your own transportation. If you accept an invitation to an offsite event bring your credit card so that you can grab a taxi home. Better yet, set up an uber account ahead of time with my link and get a $10 credit on your first ride. I assure you that using uber just once will have you completely addicted.

7. Have fun. If blogging is your day job you’re one of the luckiest people in the world. Relax and enjoy it. Everyone is nervous and the most disarming thing you can do is smile and introduce yourself.

What did I miss? Any other tips for bloggers who are going to treat BlogHer as a business trip?

BlogHer 2011 Observations

08.7.11

BlogHer 11 started with giggles and ended in uncontrollable laughter. I’d been promised a Nissan Murano for the drive to San Diego, unfortunately someone crashed the car a few days before the event and it just wouldn’t be out of the body shop in time.

The folks at Nissan were very apologetic, but hey, these things happen. They explained to me that there was one car left from the fleet, a Frontier. I said I’d take it, and then I googled Nissan Frontier.

OMG a pick’em up truck. A BIG ASS PICK UP TRUCK.

We drove this exact same nissan Frontier 2011 to BlogHer in San Diego

So I called my friend Carley who was driving down with me and I explained to her that we would be having a different experience. Since Carley has historically been open to my stupid ideas I felt fairly certain she’d be open to this. We had an absolute blast driving the Frontier down.

I will preemptively answer a few questions you might have about two women driving a Nissan Frontier:

  • Yes, it gets a lot of attention
  • No, I cannot park it very well
  • Yes, when we dropped it off with the valet we then made the valet take our suitcases and stuff them in the cab for safety
  • Yes, the kids think I’m the coolest mom in town
  • No, we didn’t go off-roading (but I’ve still got 24 hours)
  • Yes, the visibility is awesome
  • No, there were no problems getting in and out in a skirt and heels
  • 90 MPH is too fast to drive on a lightly curved highway interchange, though we broke no laws and absolutely were driving safely with the flow of traffic

Back to BlogHer. As I’d expected, no one cared what anyone wore. No one was judgy except me. I got one look at my friend Carly’s handbag and decided that I absolutely HAD to have one. (see not all judgement is bad). I grabbed Cassie and my pick up truck and the concierge gave us directions to Barney’s in Fashion Valley.

Except there was no Barneys, it was a Barney’s Co-Op which definitely wouldn’t have the amazing Proenza Schouler bag that I still must own. So Cassie and I hit up Neimans and I found a great dress and a pair of crisp white bermuda shorts that were on sale. Because of the sale prices Mr G now owes me $423, it’s called wife math.

Later that evening I had an amazing dinner in a sea of blones. Cassie, Kathy, Claire and I headed to Nobu and proceeded to eat and drink and chat for two hours. It was one of those dinners that you want to never end. I couldn’t get enough of their stories, the travel, the career building, the rapid ascents, the love stories. I wanted to drink in their successes and force them all to blog endlessly so that I can read about it more. I hunger for moments like these, smart women sharing knowledge. I don’t get enough of it.

I attended one session. It was good.

I met with brand representatives from a dozen or companies, some of whom I’ve worked with, some of whom I will never work with but I will play matchmaker with a friend. They were all anxious to work with bloggers, and they will have varying degrees of success if they don’t get in their own way.

I had a stumbly dinner with Cathy and Laurie and I’m hoping that someone can explain to me why shoes that fit me six months ago are now so big that I walk right out of them. My feet are not shrinking.

I changed hotel rooms. If you ever have to stay at the Marriott Marquis in Downtown San Diego do not under any circumstances accept a room with city views. Trains go by every half hour or so all night long, and just as you’re about to drift off to sleep a train whistle will wake you up. The first night was somewhere beyond miserable. The second night we faced the harbor, it was much better.

Bloggers are smart. Don’t let their cutesy icons fool you, these women are building meaningful businesses.

There are a few new startups that I fell in love with. Follow @PopSalad on twitter, it’s evolving into something fun. Parents, you’ll want to watch for Vikido. It’s good stuff. Tom was there from Cmp.ly, if you aren’t using cmp.ly you’re working too damn hard.

I hate to be negative, because 98% of BlogHer was fabulous. I have just one PR agency that I can’t work with. Over the years I’ve had nothing but terrible pitches from them followed by 2-3 follow up emails that were less like follow ups and more like nagging. They aren’t a small shop, they’re just a shop I’m not a match with. This shop recently hired a fellow blogger as part of their team. When I met up with the blogger we chatted and she told me all about the work she was up to with the agency and all the perks of blogging.

I was confused because the blogger/publicist had provided me with access to the client company yet she was telling me about how her blog got 1,000 hits a day from her interviews with executives and creatives from that same company. Then she went on to tell me that she loved working with _____ as a blogger because of the perks and she was already a fan. So I smiled and walked away.

I love when publicists blog. There are too many great PR blogs to mention. I love when bloggers find jobs within public relations firms. What I saw at BlogHer (and again, it’s just this one shop that I saw it with) is that the best access will go to the bloggers who work there. I am staying far far away.

I was sad to see so many women smoking. I won’t sermonize, but it made me sad.

The phrase I most often heard was, “I’m not just a blogger.” They would go on to talk about their other talents and social media influence. I felt badly for these ladies too, because there’s nothing wrong with being a blogger. I’m just a blogger.

 

 

 

 

BlogHer 11, Women Create Media, Summer is Over

07.29.11

Next week is a big week. I’ll be speaking at Women Create Media and then scooting on over to BlogHer.

I attened a BlogHer conference two years ago in Chicago, skipped New York in August 2010 (if you’re from NY you have to admit there’s no good reason to go there in August) and now I’m ready to give it another try in 2011.

Here are five things I will not be doing for BlogHer.

1. I will not be out after 10pm. I am not happy after 9pm and nothing is happening at parties after 10pm. Well, something is happening. People are drinking and enjoying themselves, but I’m off to BlogHer to connect with bloggers who I’m dying to meet, and to connect with marketers who I’m sure won’t be wasted in a hotel suite in the middle of the night. I plan on moderation and a good night’s sleep.

2. I will not be doing my hair or nails for the occasion. Take me as I am.  I’m a blogger who has shared her life with you. If my lack of a recent mani-pedi turns you off then it’s your issue, not mine. It’s not a beauty contest or a fashion show. It’s just a lot of women in one place. I don’t plan on smelling bad, I’m just not looking for a date so I’m going to make myself comfortable.

3. I will not be giving my business card to bloggers. If you want to reach me I’m at Jessica@JessicaGottlieb.com, you can call me at 818.486.9363 or you can text that number, either is fine, on twitter I’m @JessicaGottlieb and I’m on Google + as well. You don’t need my business card, you’ll just throw it out.

4. I will not be judging you unkindly. It’s no secret, I’m a judgy lady. I’ve got to figure out who I like and who I don’t like.  So when you have the nerve to show up to something as admittedly intimidating as BlogHer and you’re kind enough to introduce yourself and smile the judging is over. I already know I like you. Case closed.

5. Private Parties? Yes, there are quite a few of them. I was invited to some, and I’ll never be invited to others (Nikon… you never invite me… but since you don’t give away free cameras I don’t feel that bad). I’m pretty sure the private parties will be pretty good, but I’d also probably NOT attend without my own car or cab fare. 45 minutes at any party is plenty for me. If it’s super loud and we can’t hear each other anyhow why am I there?

I love meeting folks who I’ve only followed online. BlogHer is going to have 3,000 attendees this year and each of those 3,000 people only cares about him/herself so the good news is that you can come as you are and most of them will be too busy with their own insecurities to worry about yours.

Although a conference by and for women can be affirming, it’s also not particularly realistic or helpful. As much as I love supporting women in business it’s a little foolish to think that you can keep the boys out and have great success, though I know folks would argue that the boys work pretty hard at keeping the girls out. BlogHer will be fun, if you decide it will.

Here’s a snapshot of the business card I won’t be handing you.

One reason I’ve come to dislike BlogHer so much is that it signals the end of summer. I don’t like this at all.

 

A BlogHer Survival Guide

07.29.10

It’s that time of year. The time of year when a few thousand women pack up, some say goodbye to their families, some just get a pet sitter or wave at a roommate, and they start the Pilgrimage to The BlogHer Conference.

Twitter and Facebook are populated with “What will I wear/do/say/go to…” and many more. I’ll start my Survival Guide here, and ask y’all to help me out in the comments.

What to wear: Casual. BlogHer is a casual event. If you are a blogger going to meet up with girfriends go with the sundress and sandals route. Just toss a cardigan into your purse in case the sessions are in overly air conditioned rooms.

If you are a blogger who is attending BlogHer in hopes of landing a paying job, then you’ll need to dress for the job you want. Think casual friday, linen pants or lightweight slacks with a top (not a tee shirt) and close toed shoes. Alternately you can wear the sundress, just make sure it’s long enough.

I’m going to delight my friend April by quoting Annie, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile”. I promise you, in the absence of an outrageous costume, no one at the BlogHer Conference will be judging your outfits, but smiling at folks is the surest way to make friends. Engage them. Smile. This is the most important bit of advice I can give you.

Which parties should I go to? It’s nice to stop in at the parties you are invited to, but if you aren’t interested in the brand or the activity it’s perfectly fine to decline an invitation.

This I promise you, no matter where you are, you will feel left out of something. I want you to try and remember that everyone will have pangs of feeling left out. Do not let the feelings interrupt you, stop, breathe, and enjoy the room you are in. You will be surrounded by smart, dynamic people.

I wasn’t invited to THE party: It’s okay, it’s just one party. Conferences are littered with parties, events and networking. You can’t be everywhere, but you can enjoy where you are. Are you seeing a theme here?

My lipstick runs when I eat/talk too much/wear it all day. Try Lipfinity. It’s very drying so you don’t want it for everyday, but you do want it for conferences. Good lipstick matters.

I really want to meet ____ but I’m too shy. Don’t worry, she probably is too. That’s why she is blogging instead of greeting people as they walk into retail stores. You’re got your non-runny lipstick, your smile and your casual clothes, you’re just as important as anyone in that room, so there’s no reason to worry.

I just want to party with my friends. Good, but you aren’t at home. You may feel like you’re in a safe place, but you absolutely are not. You’re a stranger in a hotel in New York City. Have A drink. After dinner have ONE more drink. Don’t be the drunk girl, the drunk girl is not fun to spend time with, and the drunk girl does not feel well the next day. Drinking too much is the best way to ruin your weekend away.

I don’t want to see ____, I don’t like her. Seriously? Really? This isn’t high school, no one should have that much power, don’t give it to them.

I am going to ask a lot of questions at the sessions. Good, but when you do, make sure you don’t self promote. Last year there was a lot of, “Hi my name is Mommy McBlogger and I write at McBloggerHood.com and since I’m the foremost expert on selling your community out for a Big Mac and a fifty cent coupon I was wondering if any of you _____.” What happens is that Mommy McBlogger is remembered for being inappropriately self promotional.

I want to tell people all about my blog. Refrain. People aren’t there to read your blog, people are there to make human connections. I’m sure you can linkbait them and get them to read your one BlogHer wrap up post, but will that matter? If you want to make good conversation ask people about themselves. Remember their names, your perceived fame is limited to your blog, you are there to meet other people, to hear their opinions and learn about them.

If you ask people about themselves you will be remembered as a good conversationalist. Oh, and smile a little too, then you’ll be remembered as the nice conversationalist.

What would you add?

Tech Talk: What I Did at BlogHer

08.4.09

An Interview with Blog Talk Radio

I gave away Guitar Hero

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I gave away Sephora Gift Bags

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I gave away great outfits from I Am Beyond

More stories at BlogHer 2009
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I gave away gift sets from Brainy Baby

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And I gave away great tees from 10 Again Clothing.

More stories at BlogHer 2009
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But mostly. I met talented and bright women and I was privy to some incredible conversations.

I had a chance to see the world a little differently, and for that I’m grateful.

The best parts of BlogHer will never get written about, because they defy description.