It’s so hard to even begin to write about an experience such as BlogHer, particularly when there is so much being written about icky things that happened at the conference in relation to swag hoarding, swag mania, and pushy women inappropriately interacting with the PR folks. I certainly don’t want to further highlight bad behavior, because I HATE giving credence to to those that crap all over the rest of us that were NICE and either looking to make business/money-making connections or to simply hang out with friends. On the flip side, NOT mentioning the bad things seems sort of like non-disclosure or like I’m completely ignoring the ENORMOUS elephant in the room wearing a pink boa and Crocs, donning a bTrendie bag stuffed with e.l.f cosmetics and Tide samples, and holding an ever-buzzing vibrator.
So there was some very unsavory behavior by a small number of women who attended the conference. I’ve mentioned it and now I’m moving on because I’m not allowing a few rabid attendees to rain on my personal post-celebratory BlogHer parade.
I hope that for those of you who haven’t yet attended BlogHer and are considering attending in the future won’t let the negative things you hear about the conference sway your decision. It must be said that BlogHer is what YOU make of it and choose to take away from it.
Now I have a kind of embarrassing confession to make about LAST year’s conference. (I swear this totally relates to this year’s experience, so just hang with me for a second.) Last year I was either 1) delusional or 2) cocky and I kinda sorta inflated my “importance” as a blogger and was pretty sure most people would know me that the entire conference would be spent fending off my fans and having to deal with squeeing upon sight. Of me. Which, wow. I, uh, can’t believe I’m confessing this.
I just thought more people would know who I was and when I met people who didn’t know me, it felt weird and shamefully unexpected. There was that awkward silence after introductions and unless the other person was an ace conversationalist, there really wasn’t a conversation at all because I was unprepared for giving my spiel about my blog and most times I failed to remember to ask about their blog. I walked away from that conference unsure of myself, wondering why I continue to blog. I walked away from that conference humbled. It wasn’t that I didn’t meet great people or have fun! I did! It was just that my expectations were WAY off and that is what marred my experience.
To continue with my embarrassing confessions, last year I didn’t really understand that it was okay to miss some sessions. I mean, I PAID, I paid LOTS of money to attend, I HAD to attend the sessions, right?? Being studious and thirsty for knowledge meant that I missed out on lots of the behind the scenes stuff that went on.
This year was completely different and it was all because of my more realistic expectations of what to expect. Instead of expecting people to know who I was, I fully expected most people to NOT know me. Instead of focusing on me!, me!, me!, I went to the conference with the mantra, “don’t forget to ask them about themselves or their blog!” Instead of attending every session, I didn’t.
I got out of BlogHer what I put into it, I know I already mentioned that point, but it’s so important that it bears repeating. What I wanted out of the conference was to hang out with my friends and to make some new ones. Simple. And I’m so glad I allowed myself to do just that, rather than being a wallflower or worrying that people wouldn’t (or would) know who I was. Had my goal been to learn a ton about blogging, I would have been able to do that because the sessions were fabulous (or so I heard from many different people). If my goal was to make some contacts with PR people, I could have done that. All I would have had to do was try.
My experience started with a drive to Cincinnati to meet up with Shannan, Amy, Lu, and Andi to drive to Chicago sponsored by GM in a Chevy Traverse. A road trip with four friends was pretty much, um, awesome. Once in Chicago, and after getting lost, no thanks to Jane, Shannan’s GPS, or OnStar (darn tall building blocking satellite reception!), we ate at Dick’s Last Resort. Anyplace that hands out highly inappropriate hats and serves Big Ass beer is my kind of place. We proceeded to get lost again on the way to the Hyatt and the Social Luxe party, but whatevs, we eventually made it and scored some pretty fabulous swag (KODAK VIDEO CAMERA!!!!! It was so exciting I almost peed my pants!!!)
That night I helped host the People’s Party with Megan, Alli, Katie, Janet, and Jenny. (For those of you who helped stuff swag bags, THANK YOU, our party may have never actually started without your help. A single line in a blog post is not nearly enough of a thank you, so I hope that twoish lines will convey my appreciation.) I was so tired after the party, I stopped by the Room 704 party for just a few minutes. Luckily in those precious few minutes, I “got” to see a naked woman walk through the lobby, so that was, interesting.
The rest of the days were a blur. There was a session or two that I attended, the community keynote, which was utterly awe-inspiring. I attended the Nikon party and Mamapoprocks! and may have drank one or twenty seven alcoholic beverages. There was lots of giggling and very serious conversations (note the sarcasm), many a photo was taken, but not with my camera because I, welllllll, I don’t actually know why. I got to eat some great food, drink THE BEST glass of orange juice of my life, see the Budweiser Clydesdales, and fall over dead at the “sale prices” at Nordstroms on Michigan Avenue. Eventually at some point I completely lost my ability to stay awake.
I didn’t get to meet every person I meant to meet, but with merely 3-4 days and 1500 people, meeting everyone was impossible. I didn’t make it to every party I wanted to attend, but sleep did win out eventually. I didn’t get to talk long enough with too many people, but the time! There was not nearly enough time! I didn’t get to see as much of Chicago as I’d have liked, but again there just wasn’t enough time.
What I did get to do was to hang out with some really great people and make some new friends. I spent time with people who made me laugh until my stomach hurt, people who made me think, people who were beautiful, and people with whom I consider my dearest friends.
(Photo credit: Shannan from Mommybits)
Did I mention that I got out of BlogHer what I put into it? Good.