I believe that in order to get what you want out of a conference, you have to know what it is you want to get. It’s just one of my many BlogHer life lessons. My goal this time was relatively simple. I was all about relationship building, both with brands and other bloggers. Any decisions I made about private events, sessions and other activities were a reflection of that goal. I was either preserving a relationship, or forging a new one. I shied away from some of the larger events (with the exception of official BlogHer parties) and tried to focus on more intimate activities.
I only attended one session this year and it was Grief, Loss, Tragedy and Community on the Internet. It’s somewhat ironic that this is the session I chose to attend because I sometimes think that there is a lot of rubbernecking going on in the blogosophere. Not that we don’t care, but that we feel compelled to take on everyone else’s tragedy and make it our own. Someone at the session commented that it had been such a difficult year with so many children lost, but I think the truth is that we are drawn to those types of stories and so they seem to magnify in our minds. I found myself doing that and made a commitment that I would not flock in support of people I had no relationship with simply because they were dealing with a crisis. I was getting a skewed perspective on things. I mean, if you read every story about a sick child, you’re bound to start feeling like there are an unusual number of sick children out there. And there are certainly too many, but not any more really than there were last year.
So why did I attend? Anissa, of course. It’s not that I wanted to hear her speak. I simply wanted to send my good vibes her way in person. But in the end, it was good for me to hear the stories from the other women on the panel. Because it solidified something in my mind (it wasn’t intended to be their takeaway I’m sure), which is that there are bloggers who blog for breadth (breadth of stuff, brands, followers) and those who blog for depth (self-expression, strong relationships with others, a message). And I loved being in a room full of people who are all about the depth. I’ll blog about that at another time because it was a powerful moment for me.
I wrote a post before BlogHer about the myth of private parties and I have to mention that before I go on. I strongly believe that you can have a fantastic time at BlogHer without attending a single private event. In fact, I missed a few things at BlogHer that I wanted to see because I was gallivanting about. But it came down to meeting my goals and I was pretty firm about making decisions based on that.
Ellis Island with Liberty Mutual/Responsibility Project – I already blogged about what they did right, so go check out that post.
Child’s Play PR/Bloganthropy Dinner On Us – This was a lovely event. While there were plenty of brands present and I chatted with quite a few of them, the highlight for me was in hearing about all of the fabulous work the Bloganthropy Award nominees were doing. I also got a little makeover from e.l.f. Cold Stone Creamery was there as well and I’ll be doing some yummy giveaways from them.
Nikon Night Out – This was a hot event on so many levels. First of all, people were clamoring for invites. It was one of THE talked about parties at BlogHer ’09 (for better or worse) and
folks wanted an invite. Second, it was about a million degrees up there on the roof of the Bryant Park Grill. Third, they had a bunch of hunky firefighters roaming around handing out pins and schmoozing with the ladies. My feelings were mixed on this as a brand event. I had fun, although I would have had more fun if I hadn’t literally been melting. But I actually wanted to connect a bit with Nikon, maybe get some tips on using my camera and some time to play with a Nikon camera. Sure, there were cameras there that we could borrow and take photos with, but I was a bit too intimidated by the spread to try them out. Would I attend again? Yes. And did I appreciate not having a lecture on the brand? Double yes. But still, I was hoping for something… more. Plus, Ashton wasn’t there, and he just should have been. Social media maven and all that.
Getting Gorgeous – Audrey and Vera really went all out on this event. There were clothes, makeovers, some tech/gadgets and a ton of swag. My favorite is my Powermat (oh, and I’ll be giving one of those away shortly, so you can enjoy as well!) which charges devices without tons of cords. Yeah, I’m biased. I’d much rather get a gadget than a manicure! Chris Mann was there wandering around and he kindly chatted with me for a few minutes before another blogger came and launched herself into his arms.
MomSelect Swag Suite – The MomSelect Swag Suite was definitely a step up from last year where they had technical difficulties (broken freight elevator) and space challenges (a tiny suite to navigate through). This year they had still run out of some items before I arrived mid-day on the first day, but most of the tables were staffed by company representatives. I appreciated being able to talk a bit with the companies and learn more about the products, but also that those tables were handing out samples so the early birds couldn’t just stuff their bags. My fave item? The HEXBUG Nano. A weird little mini-robot that looks (and behaves) like a bug. I’m hoping to do a giveaway with them, but they don’t know that yet…
From Left to Write Book Club Meetup – This was one of the highlights of the conference for me, although it really had little connection to BlogHer at all. We had a small meetup in a bar in a local hotel and had the opportunity to chat with a “mystery” writer. Our writer turned out to be Karen Bergreen, author of Following Polly. She’s a lawyer turned stand-up comedienne turned author. The meetup was mellow, fun and full of fantastic women. It was just what I needed that night.
Sweets in the City – Hosted by Complicated Mama and co-sponsored by The Big Toy Book and Sharpie, this was a smaller suite similar to the official BlogHer brand suites. It was a bit crowded when I arrived, but they had a decorate-your-own wine glass section (which I passed on because I didn’t want to try to bring it home) and some yummy cupcakes. My favorite part was honestly the Sharpies. Someone could just stick me in a room with multi-colored Sharpies and some things to color and I’d be in heaven.
Glamour and Games – A swanky little party with e.l.f. and Kinect Xbox 360. I arrived a bit late and found the scene completely overwhelming and crowded. And, yes, I’m the geek who asked all the ladies to move out of the way so I could play video games. I’m not a big makeup fan, so I was really there to play with Kinect!
Loews Hotel Brunch – Hosted by NYCityMama, Loews and Fisher-Price, this was the perfect way to end my weekend. The brunch was low-key and delicious. They talked a bit about Loews Hotels, but gave us plenty of time to chat with each other and connect. I’m hoping to learn a bit more about the Loews brand because I was impressed by the event overall. They also sent us home with “Make Whoopie” goodie bags which amused me… we’re on a whoopie pie kick at home, so it was fun to get a whoopie pie and a recipe and some cute “Make Whoopie” gear.
People are the lifeblood of BlogHer, so I simply can’t do it justice in just this short (or not) post. I’m not going to lie, 2400 people is a LOT of folks. It was overwhelming. But I was more prepared this year – I had an idea of what to expect and I knew a lot more people. There is something comforting, even in a sea of people, to know that the odds are that you know someone else in the room.
Just a few of the people I met, hung out with, or were impacted by. It’s not everyone, so please don’t take it personally if you’re not on this list. There were a few people I just kept running into. Those are on the BlogHer 10 peeps list.
@missbanshee – We didn’t talk much, but we bonded over our trouble remembering names and faces! And we ran into each other all over the place.
@kellyology – Kelly and I connected on the Ellis Island tour (there’s a pic of us together on that post). She’s definitely on of my BlogHer 10 peeps.
The gals from 360PR – They might have been following me, but I can’t be sure. That’s ok. I still love them.
@musingsfromme – My roommate who is the NICEST person, but who never sleeps. It’s was still fun having someone rehash events of the day with.
@c2cmom – Heidi is my girl, so of course she’s on my list. But we also coordinated our event schedules for the most part so we could party hop together. It’s a nice way to ensure you’ve got people you know but, since we’re both grown-ups, we were attached at the hip either.
All my lovely Boston blogging family and my extended NYC blogging family.
@whymommy – The beautiful Susan who (hopefully) forgives me for being so distracted during the Loews brunch and for being confident enough in herself to be patient with me. I was desperately tired at that point, but still delighted to chat with her in person.
@mommyfactor – Nikki was willing to join me as I played around with Kinect for Xbox 360, so I wasn’t even that upset when she won the Xbox system instead of me!
@mommybytes – Ok, Angela is technically one my Boston blogging gang, but since she party-hopped with me on Saturday night, she gets a shout-out all on her own. Not only that, but she’s a good enough friend to bring me a swag bag of adult items (ahem) and to drive me home post-BlogHer.
As I mentioned above, if I were to list out everyone I had the pleasure of spending time with at BlogHer, this post would never end (and I’d most definitely forget some folks).
Honestly, I had two bad moments at BlogHer and I’m not even going to waste the time to talk about them.
While I don’t go to BlogHer for the swag, I know people get curious about what sort of things are given out. Although some people might disagree, I actually went a bit light on the swag this year. Sure, I still had maybe 4 or 5 bags of stuff, but I turned down several more bags. I accepted gift bags at events I attended, but turned down almost everything in the Expo Hall. The only things I picked up there were small items for the kids (Play-Doh, figurines, etc.), and a blinking ring from Macaroni Kid. Oh, and a sponge. For some reason, t-shirts were big this year. I think I came home with 4 or 5 of those. Some other faves (not mentioned above):
- A Play-Doh kit with several different colors and an extruder. My kids love Play-Doh.
- A 4GB memory card from Nikon (which has been promised to my mom).
- Cookies from Cheryl & Co. from Liberty Mutual. Mmm. Those are gone already.
- A toy from super-fabulous Sprig Toys – totally recycled, safe and battery free – woot!
- Bubble Talk – a board game I’ve been wanting to try out.
- A gorgeous necklace from lia sophia. The picture doesn’t do it justice.
I also got quite a few water bottles/travel coffee mugs to add to my collection. They’re now competing for space with all of my flash drives!