Last weekend was my first experience with a BlogHer conference, and I don’t know why. I’ve been blogging for about 6 years—way before it was cool. (Is it cool, yet? I never know these things.) Of course, by the time I decided to join the party it was completely sold out. I’ve been on the wait list for months. Enter LobbyCon—a segment of the event sponsored by PepsiCo that allowed those of us who couldn’t get in to be a part of it anyway. My pass included live video of the keynotes, the expo floor and cocktail parties. Not to mention all the after hours events!
My goal for the weekend was meeting people—people I’ve “known” for years, people I’ve admired from afar and people I didn’t know existed until I saw their lovely faces at BlogHer. I was also there in connection with my new business. I met frugal bloggers who I’d love to connect to the network, mommy bloggers who could use it and companies who appreciate what we offer to their consumers. I met people I could relate to and people I couldn’t. I met people I’m looking forward to calling my friends. I also met celebrities—including a few celebrity-in-my-head bloggers.
Mir was gracious, witty and an absolute pleasure to finally meet. She is exactly as I always knew her to be. After all, she’s been sharing her life with me for more than 5 years. I also met Chris who amazes with her calm throughout the chaos, both in the family stories she shares and while squished into a suite with 100 crazy ladies eating cheeseburgers. I can’t believe in our 30 minute conversation, it never occurred to me to take a picture of or with Mir, but I did snag this fun pic of Chris with her tray of nothing-we-can-eat. All 3 of us are gluten free, which I find interesting since that isn’t how I discovered them online. See how much I have in common with celebrities? I’m kind of a big deal.
I also met Carson Kressley and Tim Gunn (who wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I had imagined before I left). One of my greatest BlogHer moments was when MFJ got Carson Kressley to say biatch (very loudly). Tim Gunn told me that I’m really making it work, though we all know it had nothing to do with fashion. He fascinated me with his interest in what each of us do. He asked each person about their blog and then listened with (apparent) genuine interest. I shared my new venture and he stopped in his tracks (as he was signing an 8×10 photo) and said, “Inexpensively?! You really are making it work!” Does that count as a celebrity endorsement?
Speaking of endorsements, I’m fascinated with the swag controversy. I went in assuming there would be swag because I’m not a total conference virgin. I truly didn’t expect quite so much, but I didn’t see the major issue that was discussed all yesterday. Perhaps that was because I didn’t attend the full conference. I missed out on the swag suites and the private invitations. I also skipped out on the whole waiting in line thing so I’m not sure what it was about. I did see people leaving parties with their swag bags only minutes after arriving. Tacky.
Of course, I came home with my fair share of stuff. I won’t have to buy deodorant for a very, very long time. I was so excited to find Dove giving away my very pricey clinical protection that the sweet rep told me to take as much as I wanted. I told her not to say things like that or I’d have to go get my suitcase. Seriously, though, there was stuff aplenty and I’m not sure any of it was worth all the chaos. What I have to wonder about, though, is if giving it all away accomplished the company’s goals. Handing me a bag of things as I arrive at a party that I may or may not look at later doesn’t build relationships. There were some who got it way right.
The companies that spent time with us—talking over lunch about our lives (not just their products), striking up conversations in the elevator or stopping you at a cocktail party to say hello because they remembered you from the day before. I missed the sponsored lunches, as it was not included in my pass, but I hear Clorox Green Works did an excellent job with that. I enjoyed chatting with Chris from General Motors, whom I met first in the elevator. His cohort, Annalisa, was an absolute joy (not to mention another gluten free freak like me!). The Eucerin team spent the weekend building a presence; I never tried the aging machine as I’m a bit frightened to see myself at 72, but I feel like I know who I’m buying from the next time I need skin care product.
Getting to know people is what the weekend was all about for me. I’m already looking forward to the local friends I get to meet at Blog Indiana next month. I also already have my ticket for BlogHer 2010—I wouldn’t miss it for the world! Of course, NYC is on the hubby’s 40×40 list so I bought him a ticket too. I’ll miss out on the roommate-girlfriend time, for sure, but I think it’s a fair exchange.
See you in New York City, lovely ladies!