On the Sundays leading up to BlogHer11, I am posting Top Ten Tips lists. Check out my ones on packing and fashion. Have a question, something to add, or a suggestion for a subject my last two lists? Leave me a comment. Thanks for reading, I hope it helps a little. And I will see you in 17 days!
Top Ten Tips for Networking
1. Establish Your Goals: Why are you going to BlogHer? To see friends? Meet other bloggers? Meet brands? Learn how to be a better blogger? Have fun? Whatever your reason, know it and plan your agenda around it. Otherwise you will be spread too thin and will come home with nothing else than a bag full of swag and business cards and that’s it. I went in last year with no goals and while I had a fabulous time I also regret not taking the time to connect with other bloggers and follow up with the brands I met. My blog would be in a different place now if I had.
2. Take (GOOD) Business Cards: This seems like a given but a lot of people leave it to the last minute. If you haven’t started, there’s still time to get cards. You can use a site like Vistaprint or Uprinting for a basic, inexpensive, card. Must have information? Real name, blog address, email address, Twitter ID, and a phone number. I take two different cards: one for brands with my address on it (perfect for raffle drops) and one for other bloggers that are more personal and fun. Want some more advice on business cards? Check out MomComm’s series on them.
3. Put Yourself Out There: There is never a reason to feel alone at BlogHer. If you’re feeling left out, walk up to a group and say hi. See a seat at an empty table, grab it. People are very welcoming and you get the chance to meet someone new. Put a smile on your face and say hi. If you only take one piece of advice, make it that one. And don’t be discouraged if you do get the cold shoulder, it’s more about them than you. Move on to the next person or group. See someone you want to meet? Go up and say hi (try not to interrupt their conversation though, I am guilty of this one!)
4. Don’t Make It About You: The biggest mistake bloggers make at conferences is talking without listening. Example: I was at TypeA talking with two other bloggers about their passion and projects. Another blogger walked up to join us, great. Except that she interrupted our conversation and talked about her project for the ten minutes without ever asking us about ourselves. Her project was normally something I would loved to be involved with but her attitude turned me off. This goes for brands too. Definitely tell them about yourself but also ask them what they are about and what they want from bloggers.
5. Do Your Research: If you want to connect with brands, do some research before you go. Know who you want to see and where they will be. Here is a spreadsheet I made with all the official sponsors of BlogHer. Fill it out with your notes, note the booth number of the brands that are your priority, and reach out to the brands on twitter and Facebook before you go. If you’re going to BlogHer to work on blogging, read the pre-conference guide to see what the sessions are really about. Want hands on help with your blog? Make a Geek Bar Appointment.
6. Have An Elevator Pitch: I always joke that my elevator pitch is “Hi, my name is Kate.” But realistically you should have an idea of what you want to say about yourself and your blog when you meet people. Practice it a few times in front of a mirror or on someone else (my husband just loves when I do that) so you don’t get flustered. Mine? “Hi, I’m Kate. I go by Guavalicious on twitter. Currently I have two blogs. One is a hyper-local group blog about my town Columbia Missouri called The COMO Collective and a lifestyle blog about trying to do it all with twins, an old house, and a small business called The Guavalicious Life. I also love to write and contribute to several sites and our local paper. What’s your passion?”
7. Make Connections Before Hand: Reach out to people on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs and ask where they are going and if they would like to meet up. Exchange phone numbers so you can text people (it’s way faster than Twitter!) I made a sheet last year with people I wanted to meet and where they would be. Then I texted them when I got there and we would find each other that way. The conference is HUGE and if you don’t arrange to see someone you probably won’t run into them.
8. Always Be Prepared to Connect: Two things to have on you at all time: breath mints and business cards. You never know when you are going to meet someone who you want to give your contact info to. Jill of Baby Rabies carries her cards in her badge holder so they are always on her. And if you have a smart phone, download bump so you can exchange info without cards (think of the trees!)
9. Don’t Get Drunk: I didn’t follow this one at TypeA and ended up having a conversation with a blogger I really like. That I totally don’t remember. It was way past my bedtime and I had drunk too much wine. Now I look like an ass and I missed out on talking to someone I really admire. Stop one drink before you think you should.
10. Be Nice: This should be a given but in case you need a reason to be nice to everyone here you go: you never know who you are talking to. The person that you held the elevator for may be that blogging hero you’ve wanted to meet. The person who asks to sit at your table may be an editor who can give you paying work. The brand rep for a brand you hate may also be the PR person for a brand you are dying to work with. The blogger you’ve never heard off may be best friends with Dooce. Smile and talk to everyone and you will always make a good impression.