Dear 2015 BlogHer Conference Newbies

I was totally in your shoes last year. Well, my shoes probably aren't as trendy as yours, but you get the idea.
You might be overwhelmed by the groups of bloggers you pass, who always seem to be in constant states of glee and giddiness. You'll wonder, "Why are they so happy? Is this some sort of popularity contest where if you were smart enough to start blogging before it was cool, you're elevated to some sort of celeb status?"
Don't believe what you think. You know you're a good blogger even without the huge Twitter following, unique fashion sense or fancy, sponsor-savvy site.
The best thing you can do is make connections just before the convention. Take time to get to know people on Skype or social media. You just might end up meeting one of the co-founders, who was so helpful and kind despite being uber-busy. She'll share about her life and a few extra Pathfinder passes you previously weren't able to afford. She may be the only recognizable face, but when she sees you, she greets you by name and gives you a big hug as though you are a BlogHer OG.
People you only know from Twitter become real people, with real stories and a penchant for making you laugh embarrassingly loud. You'll get validation and guidance from a book publisher who tells you, "You can do this. You can write this book." Your best conversation with brands may not be in the vendor booths, but sitting next to you as an attendee. Take advantage of those special connections.
Geeking out at the sight of celebs is encouraged,  even though you feel silly. You may inadvertently sit at "The Best Table Ever," just because you collectively decided with former strangers that you'd embrace that superlative.
Me and David Tutera
You'll leave a workshop thinking,  "Holy crap. I'm doing all the right things!  Just need to add swagger and the courage to ask for more support...and eyeballs on my page."
Business card collecting will become a new hobby. Bring at least 100. Brag about them, because you know they are the best cards in the universe and that random enthusiasm will make others laugh and you become more memorable.
Make every moment a memory,  even when you're exhausted and sore and need to skip a session just so you can get a massage and some chocolate.
Soft drinks and sweet tea are scarce. Stash as much as you can. You'll be glad you did. You may think it's redundant when everyone says "Bring an extra bag for swag." Listen to them. They are so, so right!
Most of all, don't let your shyness, anxiety, depression or introversion get in the way. If you need time to recharge your iPad and your mind,  do so. Be present and wear a smile. It will unlock doors.


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