A Survival Guide to BlogHer for the non-blogger or "corporate" attendee
So, jumping on the bandwagon with the community's and Maria Niles's phenomenal guides to surviving BlogHer, I thought I would add one appropriate for the 1) sponsors, 2) networking non-bloggers, or 3) corporate bloggers trying to meet bloggers. All this stuff about introversion and wearing the right shoes seem irrelevant to you? It actually IS relevant, since this is the group you are going to be spending time with, but OK, I get that for some people at BlogHer, conference-going is a typical occurrence. Even for those who know the networking drill, BlogHer is a different animal entirely. Do read on ...
Some tips that I would like to provide:
- Business Cards: Titles and affiliations are interesting, but if you can include a Website URL, or even better, your blog, on your card you will get much more bang for your conference buck. After all, these are folks who add loads of sites to their blogrolls post-conference. If you don't have your blog on your business card, write it on there!
- Video/blog round-ups: Bloggers will help you out here, but please ask for their permission before posting any pics or video, and do the proper shout-out and link to their blog(s)! I'm commonly asked by sponsors to give them approximations of ROI after sponsoring the conference. I could never dare to guess, but believe me, you will get traffic by doing this.
- Do not pitch in sessions!: Do not use the time the audience is giving you to ask a question to get in a 15-second soundbite about your product or service; this is tantamount to blowing up your brand. This audience chews up this stuff and spits it out. Even if you think no one cares, don't find out how wrong you were in the post-event round-ups. Please, when you interact in the sessions, feel free to state your name and your company or blog (we love full disclosure!), and then ask a real question. Then talk shop over lunch, at the parties, or in the Internet Lounge.
- Men, it's OK to talk. Ask questions! You may have heard of men getting shut down at BlogHer. I've never seen this happen, only heard of an incident where men were getting in a pissing match, and some of the women were irritated that this was being done on their time. I wasn't there, so I can't be too specific. What I can say is that, while attendees are aware that many of the male attendees are there because their company sent them to BlogHer, we won't shout out "Flack!" when you want to speak. It's all good. We have a soft spot for you and appreciate your presence and interest.
- But let me add: Men and women network differently. We often seek some form of commonality before we decide to team up with each other. Careful of the hard sell, and don't be afraid of the Speed Dating exercise at the beginning of the conference, where you get to meet many bloggers in a half-hour's time. A male sponsor who participated in this exercise last year said it was one of the most useful ways of meeting bloggers at the event. It can be intimidating trying to network with 1,000 women having a ball at the cocktail parties. Meet them at Speed Dating and have BFFs for the whole weekend.
- Don't eschew the Unconference. Now, I say this knowing that the capacity of the Unconference is roughly a third of what we can allow for the main conference, but a number of "corporates" who attended last year found this to be the most eye-opening part of the conference. They got more substantial face time with bloggers and could ask the hard questions (and, of course, get real answers).
- Have some perspective on Swag. Realize that every attendee will be getting a tote with roughly 20 sponsor items in it, freebies at the exhibitor tables, makeover pavilion, and parties--not to mention all of the "unofficial" parties planned in and around BlogHer. Think of something fun and different. I loved the swag some enterprising bloggers brought one year: temporary tattoos. People wore them as neworking badges of honor and gave these gals great branding. Or Susie Bright's notorious buttons. If you plan to come to BlogHer bringing brochures, save the trees and don't do it.
- Open a Twitter account. Want the real story? You'll get it there.
- And some top phrases to avoid when speaking to bloggers
...we guarantee you'll lose weight (or) ...will make you thinner
...if you just give me a minute I can show you how it works on your laptop...(only do demos if a blogger comes to you for one)
...we're looking for some A-listers for this project...
...if you'll link to us we'll ...
...come join us in our suite during the conference
...Is it free? That depends. Are you a Mommyblogger?
10. And my final word of advice: Have fun. Seriously. There's no better way to network with this crowd.