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How to survive your first blogging conference #RevRet12

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Yep – it’s done. First blog conference: check.

I attended the Double Duty Divas‘ Reviewers Retreat at the beautiful Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, North Carolina. It was a fun-filled, action-packed, three-day event full of networking, snacking, workshopping, meet-n-greeting, and learning how to make friends and influence people as a review blogger.

It was so much fun, but lemme tell ya – when I returned home, I was EXHAUSTED. I slept 11 hours; that’s why everyone else who attended has blogged about it except me.

So, are you heading out to your first blogging conference this year? Are you thinking of heading out to one? Well, let me share these tips with you.

1) Take a HUGE suitcase, only use your laptop bag as your carry-on, and pack lightly. I made the mistake of thinking I needed things like towels and two weeks’ worth of underwear to survive this conference. As well as LOTS of makeup and single-use flossers. Well, here’s the deal: You will arrive and suddenly there will be about two extra bags’ worth of swag to take home.

At this retreat, I got toys, diapers, skin care stuff, reusable totes, a backpack filled with stuff… By the end of it all I ended up giving stuff away to my roomies. “Anyone want this Octopus toothpaste?” “Who needs a backpack?” “I have enough lotion at home; who wants it?”

And then you just might win a scavenger hunt which wins you a GIANT duffel bag filled with even MORE stuff. Like I did with all my roomies and some other awesome people.

(By the way, I’m the gal with the festive hair on the top-right row. I could caption the rest of these ladies but I am so dang tired. Maybe I’ll do this tomorrow).

The point is, you will come home with STUFF. Whomever picks you up at the airport will say “DAAAAAAAAAAAAANG!” if you live in the south, or if I happen to be the one picking you up. So it’s best to just prepare to pack lightly.

2) Don’t be afraid to be awesome. You are trying to sell yourself at these

This is Ted Rubin, Chief Social Marketing Officer for Collective Bias. Since he lives in New York and Collective Bias is headquartered where I live in northwest Arkansas, I knew I needed to meet him. He's going to remember me as the girl with the wand who offered to show him the local nightlife in my town. He also has a way with conversation. And vests.

things; and being awesome comes in many, many forms. Whether it be walking up directly to a sponsor you’ve been dying to work with, or a rockstar in Social Media, or a person whose Blog You Totally Love and saying “Hi, I’m an awesome blogger” or even just having a memorable presence through your style or conversation, being awesome is important.

You’re not just meeting brands, you’re meeting people who can help you Follow Your Bliss. And now it’s time for me to quote my favorite Great Thinker, Joseph Campbell:

Me and my roomies: All bloggers, all full of helpful info, all helping me on my path to bliss. I'm tearing up as I say this.

I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

It also helps to have extremely awesome business cards, like the ones I gave people that were provided for me by Tiny Prints to take to Reviewers Retreat. Speaking of Tiny Prints, there’s a connection to the whole “Follow Your Bliss” thing there, but that’s a whole other story.

But back to the business cards. These are AWESOME. They had my badge on the front, then they opened up to show my contact info and experience (and a really cute photo of me), and on the back was a QR code that takes the scanner directly to my media kit. They were received quite well and, frankly, were the most awesome business cards ever. Okay, maybe next to Ted Rubin‘s. No, mine were more awesome; sorry, Ted.

Finally:

4) Take extra batteries and portable chargers for all your electronic stuff. My big idea is that every social media meeting should have a Powering Station that is basically just a straight line of power strips and USB ports so you can charge your stuff. That was not the case here. This event beat the tar out of my batteries, and as a result I found myself borrowing people’s phones and scavenging for outlets wherever I could find them. My roommate Jerri with Mom-e-Centric brought about 20,000 batteries for her cell phone. Smart woman, that is.

5) Talk to ALL the brand reps, even if they’re representing brands

Reason No. 6,479 to attend a blogging conference: You could end up behind the wheel of a NEW CAR! I got to test-drive this Kia Sorento with the roomies. It was awesome. More on that later.

you aren’t interested in. I’m not a mommy blogger, and there were a few mom-related representatives I was hesitant to meet. But I’m so glad I did! You never know when that brand representative is going to be someone from a PR firm that represents MULTIPLE brands and can connect you with products that are suitable for what you blog about. Through just talking with people at Reviewers Retreat, I found people who represent brands in pets, cosmetics, fashion, all KINDS of stuff. So NEVER be afraid. EVER!

6) Bring gifts for your roomies. I did not. I made myself sit in the corner for 30 minutes when I got home.

I had SUCH an amazing time at Reviewers Retreat, and am SO excited about the opportunities that undoubtedly await me. If you are a blogger, and this is what you want to do for a living, I definitely suggest you invest your time in an event. The next one I plan to attend is Wordcamp Fayetteville, which is a great way to learn even more how to use WordPress to your advantage. I’m sure it will be another excellent networking opportunity!

Check out my roomies’ awesome posts about their experience at Reviewers’ Retreat:

Top 10 List of Things I Learned at Reviewers Retreat 2012 – CEO of Me, Inc

Home from Reviewer’s Retreat 2012 #RevRet12 – Mama Bee Does

My Reviewers Retreat 2012 Experience – Laughing Lindsay

Anatomy of Friendships – #RevRet12 – Mom-e-Centric

 

Disclosure: Tiny Prints provided me with product for the mentioned event in exchange for word-of-mouth or social media review. Pampers and Kia also provided me with product and samples, for which I was under no obligation to mention. All opinions on these products are 100% mine.

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