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When a blogger goes to a blog conference, you KNOW you’ll get at least one post about it, right? I went to Asheville, NC last week to attend the fab Type A Parent Conference. It’s a blogging conference about—you guessed it—blogging.
But this post is about what I learned outside the sessions… about people, about traveling and about myself.
1. The deep relationships don’t happen in the sessions.
Sessions are for learning, catching up with those you already know and casually getting to know some new faces. When you meet someone new in a session, you’ll probably exchange blogger business cards too. But the sessions aren’t where you really get to know other bloggers. That happens in the hallways, at dinner, during the parties, on the patio or in your room as you wind down from the day’s events.
2. My Twitter name might as well be on my birth certificate.
When bloggers introduced themselves at the conference, it was almost always followed up with their Twitter name. Why? Because Twitter is where online blog relationships really happen. It’s where you get to know other bloggers more than anywhere else.
In fact, I often found myself quickly saying “I’m @adventuroo!” after I said my name but I didn’t want to risk the “WHO are you?” look after saying just Melissa Culbertson. I sometimes said “and @momcommblog too” but my other account has more followers so I started there and waited for that blank look. Ha.
If you’re a Twitter noob, you’d better get on it before your next conference. You can read my post about making sense of Twitter and then sign up already, will ya?
3. You can’t always rely on technology.
Okay so this point came up in the sessions but it’s not about the sessions so nanner nanner. The wi-fi at the conference was spotty (to put it nicely) and left some frustrated peeps during a few sessions. But that’s not the only thing you shouldn’t rely on. There may not always be a place to plug in your laptop if the battery starts to die either. Always bring a notepad and pen to a session. I went half old school through most of the sessions, taking handwritten notes but also using my laptop to tweet (since I’m much faster than on my phone). I love writing things down in a notebook for some reason.
Oh and I accidentally ran my finger down my notepad once like I would on my iPhone. Technology lives on, even when I’m going old school.
4. Bring your kids a gift back from the conference.
After you smother them with hugs and kisses, won’t you look like DA BOMB when you whip out cookies, toys and a Wii Monster Truck game with its own steering wheel? Oh maybe that was just me.
Seriously though, bring them a little something. Kids dig it and you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy watching their eyes light up. Even my toddler was excited (cookies are always a hit, for real).
5. Don’t be attached to the same people all the time.
I traveled to the conference for three other Raleigh bloggers. And sure, we hung out some. But I also made it a point to meet new people. As a conference-attending pro, Fadra was my trusty sidekick at times, introducing me to people she already knew from previous conferences. But I definitely wasn’t afraid to just walk up to someone and start the chit-chat.
If you go to dinner with people you already know well, ask a few bloggers you don’t know that well to come along too. And don’t be afraid to join in on a conversation you may be standing next to (depending on the seriousness of the topic of course). I ended up doing that and met new folks right up until the last 5 minutes before I went upstairs on Saturday night.
6. We ALL need a break from our kids.
I’ll be the first to admit that three full days and two half days of traveling was a long time to be away. By no means do I regret it, but I definitely won’t do a long stretch like that often. That being said, I came from with a flutter in my stomach ready to see those munchkins. And this week, preschool is closed and ya know what? I’m not going insane. In fact, I’m more patient and generally just going with the flow more.
You may not need a conference to do that. A date night might do it. Even going solo on a one-hour trip to Target is sometimes enough to re-boot your kidometer. Point is, we all need some time away from the kids.
What I noticed at the conference is that when bloggers talked about their kids I noticed we bragged about them. We showed others their cute pictures. We put the kids on speakerphone so those nearby could hear cute, little voices. We reveled in motherhood. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
7. You can only grow your blog so much without face-to-face interaction.
This one may catch me some flack but hear me out. This doesn’t have to mean flying to a new town and spending hundreds on dollars on a conference. If you can afford at least one conference a year, go for it. But if you can’t? Get local, baby! If you want to work more with brand, start attending local networking events. If you want more followers, get active in playgroups, local mommy events, your preschool, wherever you think your readers might be.
I can tell you this. While I was at Type A last week, this point really hit me. Interacting with people in person will make connecting with them online so much deeper.
There ya have it. My first Type A post that’s hopefully relevant to those who didn’t attend! Stay tuned tomorrow for photos from the conference aka the Love Fest (or feel free to skip it- I won’t cry).