I'm going to BlogHer 2013 in Chicago

In a little less than a month bloggers from everywhere will be making their way to Chicago, Illinois for the 2013 BlogHer Conference. Yes, I will be among them. Last year I was a bit critical of the BlogHer conference, but the powers that be at BlogHer have promised they have listened to feedback and are making the changes that are needed for this year’s conference. Whenever a big conference is coming up there are tons of questions about the conference so once again (I did tips for BlogHer 2012 too) I am offering up a few tips.

  • Enjoy!

    This may sound odd, but I think some stress so much over going to the conference, especially for the first time, that they forget to just enjoy themselves. While I consider this trip work for me, it still can be very enjoyable. You will get to see new places, meet friends you know only online, see old friends again, and have a chance to network with brands and firms to grow your business. Have fun and be yourself and just try to enjoy all of it.

  • What to Wear

    You see all sorts of clothing at BlogHer. From formal at some of the parties to grunge (yes, I did see that at previous conferences). My advice is to wear what makes you comfortable in a place you are conducting business. If you plan on networking with bloggers and brands, take the kind of clothes that you would wear if you were meeting them in your own home town. For some that may be a suit, for others it may be a pair of slacks and nice shirt, and some jeans and a t-shirt. You also do not have to go out and buy a new wardrobe for the conference! There is no dress code for the event as a whole. Note though that if you are attending any private events you may have a certain dress code for the restaurant or club it is at – check with the hosts of such events. One final tip, you might bring a light jacket or shawl with you. Even though it will probably be hot outside in Chicago, inside the A/C will be pumping and it can get chilly sitting in a session at times. Oh wait, one more final tip – comfortable shoes. You will be walking a lot – trust me!

  • Scheduling

    If you attend only official BlogHer events you still have to pick and choose what to do. There are multiple sessions that happen at the same time and the expo hall can take considerable time to go through as well. Now if you plan on doing some site seeing or attending non-official events your schedule gets even tighter. Allow plenty of room between events for travel time – even if all in the expo hall (it’s big). If you are going to private events, find out if the event has a schedule or if it is just casual come any time between this time and that time.  If the event has a specific itinerary be on time. If you change your mind about going to an invited event or just cannot make it for whatever reason, notify the host as soon as possible. BlogHer has an official app and usually a printable form for planning your schedule also. Take advantage of those tools.

  • Business Cards

    Bloggers do not hand these out to each other as much anymore, but you need some if you are planning on connecting with brands. I highly suggest you include a photo of yourself or your company logo on the card along with your name, URL, email, and a phone number. If you are on Twitter a lot, include that also. There is no need to put your home address on the card. Another tip is that flat, not glossy, business cards are easier to write on. Many brand reps like to jot notes on cards about people they meet to help them remember – make it easy and have a flat card that is blank on the back for them.

  • Don’t be a Swag Whore

    Yes, that is what people who are greedy about swag are called. Please do not be one. Yes, you do get free stuff at the conference and private events. Some of it is great, some of it to be honest, is junk you don’t really need. Do not be greedy and try to take multiples of things, do not push and shove to get your hands on swag, and do not be mad if a sponsor does not have enough for everyone. I have seen a few bloggers with so much stuff that it is really just pathetic – I’m not talking people who even have one of everything that was offered – but the people who end up with 20 of everything offered! That is a swag whore. The conference is NOT about free stuff.

  • Technology

    First, hotels have notoriously bad internet connections and that is amplified when you have so many social media people trying to log in at once. My advice is to get a personal wifi hotspot from your service provider. This will help you a lot if you need to be in touch and work while in Chicago. If you need to plug in during a session, get there early to find a good seat near an outlet. Some take their laptops, tablets with keyboards are a nice lightweight alternative, and of course a good smartphone is always your friend. Don’t forget the needed cords and adapters to stay charged up also. A portable power supply (see my Mophie giveaway thru June 30) is a bonus to have ready at all times. See my iPhone Tips for BlogHer from last year also. Even if you have a different smartphone many of the tips still apply.

  • Food

    Between breakfast and lunch provided at the conference, plus lots of snacks at evening parties, you can usually make do without paying extra for meals if you want. I suggest staying hydrated by drinking lots of water, it makes a big difference. Plus, pack a few healthy snacks to bring with you just in case. For me, I need protein so I pack some protein bars, turkey bites, and the like in case I need a boost. If you are drinking alcohol (raising hand) do not get fall-down drunk. Yes, this does happen, and no it is not a good thing. I have even had people pitch me before who were so drunk they could barely stand – guess what – there was no way I was going to work with something like that!

Let me know if you are planning on being at BlogHer this year. Feel free to ask questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer and advise.