In just two short weeks I'll be attending Blogher, a very large and primarily female blog conference that is held annually. This year it's in San Diego. I pinky swear to keep my coverage of this event to a minimum, because I have a feeling that the vast majority of my readership could care less about the drama surrounding a bunch of internet nerds. But there is enough of a contingency to address it both before and after the big weekend.
Every time I compose this post in my head it sounds more negative than I'm intending. But I'm going to write this anyway, and hope that you understand where I'm coming from, because I desperately needed someone to say these things to me before I attended my first (or even my second) blog conference.
I've survived two major blog conferences and a handful of blog meetups. Here is the thing that people don't like to say about bloggy gatherings: They're Hard. Each and every single time I prepare myself for a fun party with lots of squealing and hugging, and without fail I sink into bed afterwards exhausted, with my mind swirling.
To be sure, there are moments of fun. There's laughter and connections and maybe dancing. But overall, I have found them to be work. Hard work. No matter how you slice it, it's difficult to network all day. To pitch your blog (and ultimately yourself) to someone who is probably only half-listening. It's frustrating to be blown off by "bigger" bloggers. It's demoralizing to sit in a session and feel like you're light years behind everyone else on the bloggy spectrum.
I will say that attending such events and weekends has born fruit, but usually not until the weeks or months afterwards. A quick conversation I had with someone in an elevator leads to a fun opportunity or meeting someone interesting turns into a real friendship. But even knowing this - that every impression counts - makes me want to crawl under the hotel covers.
Remember that among the 3,000 attendees to next months conferences, everyone has a different motivation for being there. For many, this is a girls weekend that only comes once a year. They want to play with their friends and pick up some swag and kick up their heels. For others, it's all business all the time. They are working the room and working the crowd and they're sure they have better stats than you. Then there are the dozens like me who wander around glassy-eyed and confused. Try to make yourself part of the huge contingency that falls somewhere in the middle.
This doesn't mean that you won't have a great time. I just want you to go into it with your eyes open and your heart a little guarded. Most of us pour ourselves into our blogs. It is personal, even if it's business. Manage your expectations, identify your goals, and try, try not to take any of it too seriously.
See you there?