Friday morning, I woke up and I could feel the gray cloud hanging over my head. All of my friends were getting ready to head to Chicago for a blog conference, and because I didn’t have anyone to watch my kids, I wasn’t able to go, even though I had a ticket. By 11am, my stepmom told me to get ready to bring the kids to her house and I had five hours to get ready to leave for Chicago. In hindsight, it made things much more enjoyable and (I’m hoping) I still made a good impression.
No Time to Obsess Over Branding
Yes, having a cohesive brand is important. Having everything match 100% of the time, even if it means paying through the nose for it, not so much. I recently re-branded my site and I haven’t received my new business cards yet. I had less than three minutes to design my cards and get the order placed if I wanted to be able to pick them up and make it to the bus station on time.
They took 30 seconds to design, they don’t match my brand at all, and yet I got compliments on them and thanks from brand reps because they had my picture on them. If they matched my site, it would have had my bubble with a coffee cup, but people won’t remember talking to me because of that as much as they will because they have a picture of the person they talked to right in front of them.
No Time to Obsess Over Clothes
I have to be honest, I’ve been stressing about what I’m going to wear to New York for BlogHer. I’m insanely worried that I’m not going to fit in, that I won’t sell myself well and all that if I don’t have the right wardrobe. For Brands and Bloggers, I packed the last clean outfit I had in my dresser. Luckily, I now have more drawers, so it was easy to open the drawer that had shirts which were at least somewhat suitable, otherwise I might have wound up in a tie dye shirt that would have clashed horribly with my hair!
Here’s the thing… no matter what you wear, someone else will be dressed better than you. There will also be someone dressed more casually than you are. Would I have worn a scoop neck t-shirt and jeans if I had more time to prep? Probably not. I like to dress like I’m going to a job interview when I go to a conference, because that’s what it is to me. On the other hand, it was a good lesson in forcing myself to be confident with who I am and what I want to come across on my blog.
Talking to a good friend (who sat near me yesterday), it hit me that I perfectly dressed my brand and my mission. I could have gone to Nordstrom with her on Friday and picked out a nice, professional outfit to wear, but I would have been miserable. Instead, I was comfortable, which allowed me to place all of my attention on interacting with people rather than worrying if my outfit looked okay.
No Time For Hype
When you have months to plan for a conference, you have time to psych yourself out about who’s going to be there, what amazing brands you’re going to meet, etc. When I found out I wasn’t going to be able to go to Chicago, I stopped looking. When I stopped looking, I stopped putting people on pedestals. I stopped trying to figure out how to make a brand want to work with me in the future.
What my table mates got from me yesterday was me. I wasn’t guarded. I uttered the phrase “Get out the butter, bitches” when talking about injecting my personality into recipe directions. I had a great conversation with Jacqueline Wilson about lickable, fuzzy wallpaper. I told everyone that we should check each others’ underwear when Andrea Metcalf asked who was wearing white underwear. We had fun! If I had kept building the hype in my mind, I doubt any of that would have come out.
Now, I’m putting BlogHer out of my mind for the next week. If I think about the trip at all, it will only be about the things I want to do when I’m not at the conference. I’m a small town girl hitting the Big Apple (possibly for the only time in my life) so I want to enjoy it! The truth is, everything else is going to fall together whether I worry or not.
What’s your best tip for enjoying a conference?