I was going to start this post saying conference season is heating up in Canada, but it’s actually been going strong since March. Here is a list of Canadian Blogger Conferences that I know have happened or are coming up.
March Blog West
April Food Bloggers of Canada
May Tbex (Oct in Dublin!), Social Capital Conference, Tweetstock
June Northern Voice
July Canadians head south of the border for BlogHer
September Blog Podium
October Blissdom Canada
There is a lot of excitement and preparation that goes into getting ready to jet off to a conference. Here are my suggestions for getting conference ready.
Perfect your elevator pitch. Lots of brands and bloggers will ask “So what do you blog about?” Have a quick and catchy sentence or two that sums up your blog. It took me a long time to figure out exactly what I should say but after nearly 4 years of blogging at Nugglemama’s Handful I can
firmly say “Nugglemama’s Handful creatively promotes brands via social media, vlogging & photographic blogging. Our parenting and lifestyle blog features many topics including our favourite products, places and foods with a decidedly Canadian bias”. OK I am still working on my pitch, but I’m getting close.
Go in with a plan. Write down the people and sessions that you don’t want to miss while at the conference. Follow other attendees and the conference sponsors on Twitter as well as the conference hashtag to stay on top of the action in real-time. Having columns in Tweet Deck really helps.
When prepping for sessions write down the specifics of when and where they are located and the topic as well as any questions you may want to ask if there is time for a question period.
When it comes to people you are hoping to connect with plan a meeting place with as many as you can ahead of time, be it dinner or drinks off site or for a pizza party in your room. If you don’t plan ahead you may be left with no one to spend time with in between conference sessions. That said plan downtime as well. You might need an hour or two to escape the fast pace or in case you make a connection while at the conference that you want to build on over drinks.
Bring a sharpie that you can attach to your lanyard and write down tidbits about your conversation with the people you meet on the back of their business cards. It will make sending followup emails easier and help you keep track of what you spoke about and with who.
Get your business cards and media cards ready. I like having both on hand. Business cards for bloggers and media kit cards for brands. There are often good deals on Vistaprint products, order enough to hand one to every person you meet. On your business cards make your you have your name, blog name and address, email, top one or 2 social media links, and elevator pitch (if there’s room). If you have a sponsor, or three add their logos to the back of your cards. Having an eye-catching graphic or image on your cards doesn’t hurt either. My Hubby laughed at my cards, but they were a great conversation starter and helped make me stand out. Make sure your read my post on what to include in your media kit before ordering those. You may want to make your media card postcard so that there is room for all the pertinent information.
Decide ahead of time if you are going to “live blog” the conference or not. If you are live blogging than a laptop might want to be one of the items on your what to pack list. Personally I prefer travelling light and sticking to live tweeting from my cell phone or iPad and taking old school handwritten notes that I can refer to later when working on blog posts. I have brought my laptop to conferences only to never use them. It ended up being an added weight in my shoulder bag and carry on that I didn’t need.
Join in pre-conference conversations. Find out if the conference you are going to offers an easy way for you to connect with fellow attendees ahead of time. Many conferences have website, Facebook pages, hashtags, groups and even forums dedicated to conference chatter before and after. If you are looking for a roommate, dinner companion or possibly even someone who wants to go exploring the city after hours this would be a good place to start.
Most of all when attending any conference be it your 1st or 100th bring your smile and a positive attitude. Most of us who attend blogging conferences are naturally introverts so putting ourselves out there can be hard. Starting with smile and a positive attitude, even when your stomach is in knots, will take you a long way towards making those all important connections.
I would love to know what tips you would include in this list.