BlogHer12: Seize the Moment

I’m just about the least carpe deim/go with the flow person out there, but I learned a very important lesson last year at BlogHer and I thought I would share it here.

Some of the best things that happen at BlogHer are accidental.

BlogHer is full of events and it would be really easy to stuff your calendar full of sessions, parties, events, mixers and lunches to the point where there is no room to breath. I know this for a fact. I did it last year and I may or may not have color coded my google calendar to maximize my super schedule fantastico.

My favorite things that happened last year at BlogHer? Those weren’t color coded.

Eileen and I had planned on going to a non-BlogHer add-on conference on the Thursday and at the last minute decided not to go. I was literally standing in the lobby waiting for a cab to go and meet her and we decided to skip it. We had breakfast instead and then headed to the pool for bloody marys. We stayed for hours. We tweeted pictures of our drinks and like magic, Jamie appeared. We ended up in a group of fun bloggers for most of the afternoon, I moved on to alternating diet cokes with cocktails and had a blast.

Later that night, I attended my scheduled parties (meh. not all parties are fun) and stumbled across Jen, who gave me the wise advice I am repeating here: “if you find someone you want to talk to, grab them and talk to them. You don’t know when you will see them again.” We talked for about 20 minutes outside of the parties and then, no joke, I don’t think I saw her again the whole conference except from afar.

Friday night, Suzanne and I were lost trying to find Sparklecorn. We stopped a pretty lady who was dressed to the nines, but also lost. We decided to all find Sparklecorn together and had a lovely chat all the way over. And, folks, that’s how Suzanne and I wandered around BlogHer11 with Kelle Hampton. Of course, we only realized who it was half-way through because we were oblivious.

People worry a lot about private parties at BlogHer and I’ll say this – some are fun, some aren’t. They take time to get to, get in to and they aren’t always what you think they are going to be. I mostly want to go to the parties my friends are going to go to. I am all about hanging out when the sessions are over for the day.

Don’t be afraid to leave some open time in your schedule. I didn’t plan anything between the conference I didn’t attend and the first party I was going to at 8 and most of the people I did know were at a happy hour party I wasn’t invited to* or hadn’t arrived in San Diego yet. I ended up running in to a friend of a friend who I knew a little bit from twitter and we had $2 hotel happy hour beers and then went to evening at the expo. Completely spontaneous and it was one of my favorite trips through the expo.

One more thing about packing your schedule super tight – if you double book yourself, make sure you can attend both without impacting the other guests or just pick one. I attended a lunch that was off-site with about 30 other people. 28 showed up on time and the host waited until the last two bloggers finally showed up to start the lunch. As a result, I was late getting back and missed first session after lunch. While I know that I chose to go off-site and possibly miss sessions, the two bloggers weren’t late because they were lost or even just late – they attended a different event that overlapped and knew in advance they would hold everything up by at least 20 minutes and didn’t bother to inform the host. You can’t do everything at BlogHer, pick what you really want to do and enjoy the hell out of it.

I like to go to sessions, but no one is going to force (or judge) you. And this is a huge one for me: don’t be afraid to leave a session if it turns out to be not for you. Don’t be afraid to go to a session late, or switch midway through, but be polite and respectful and don’t expect a seat. Most of the sessions I attended were filled to capacity.

You have to be willing to have a good time to enjoy BlogHer. Step out of your box. Be open. Be alone. No one is going to think you are a freak for sitting alone or walking somewhere alone. They either won’t notice you, will think you are meeting someone or will be super nice. At the first big party I attended, I literally slunk off to hide in a corner. Someone wandered over (someone completely random and not a party host) and asked if I was sitting alone on purpose or because I didn’t know anyone. I answered on purpose and she offered to go get me a cocktail so I wouldn’t lose my empty table to get another one.

The TL:DR version: BlogHer will still be fun if you don’t get all the parties. Don’t over schedule yourself to death. Be open to new experiences. And for god’s sake, break in your shoes.

 

*It happens. We can’t all go to everything. It’s best to just get over it.

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23 Responses to “BlogHer12: Seize the Moment”

  1. Suzanne says:

    I think I tell that Kelle Hampton story to EVERYONE EVER, just because it was such a fun and unexpected surprise to meet someone lots of bloggers wanted to meet but ere sometimes scared to approach.

    And I feel like that happened a lot – running into some of my favorite “famous” bloggers and getting a few minutes to chat to with them (or dance covered in glitter while talking about our nursing babies with them) because I WASN’T running off to try on jeans or eat cottage cheese. I cannot WAIT to see you!

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    Amy Reply:

    That said, I would totally run off to try on jeans again. I wear those jeans ALL THE TIME.

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  2. Kimberly says:

    Thanks for this. I need all the “step out of your box” pep talks I can get. I can’t wait to meet you :)

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    Amy Reply:

    I’m so excited to meet you too! I can’t wait. And it is almost here!

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  3. the grumbles says:

    I completely agree with this. I made a color-coded calendar last year and then ignored it and I plan to do the same this year. The calendar is NICE if you find yourself stuck with a blank spot in your day, but don’t let it be a slave driver.

    All the things I enjoyed most were spur of the moment decisions, dinner AWAY from the conference with my roommate, finding you for cocktails by the pool because I was FREAKING out, hanging out at Cheeseburgher alone because everyone else I was with went to bed. It is a uniquely roll-with-it situation.

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    Amy Reply:

    It is very much a roll-with-it situation, that just isn’t my strong suit. I just need to remember that there is always something to do. If not, just find a chair and sit – people will find me. So excited to see you again!

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  4. Thanks for this! I was starting to feel like I was the only person (only newb, especially) who wasn’t going crazy about making sure to SCHEDULE ALL THE THINGS! I have two private party invites for two different nights, and that’s all I want. I seriously just want to go with the flow of everything, but it seems like everyone else is going all nutzo over having the perfect schedule. I’m glad I’m already acting like a seasoned pro, LOL!

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    Amy Reply:

    It is nice to schedule all the things! And it is nice to have options. The main reason I try to get party invites is because I think my friends are getting them. Everyone pretty much ends up the BlogHer parties at the end of the night, so that works too.

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  5. Great post! I love your advice on changing sessions. When I make up my list of sessions, I always plan a backup session just in case the first one isn’t what I thought it would be… I always try to be respectful if I need to exit.

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    Amy Reply:

    I didn’t make back-up session plans last year and I really regretted it. I left two sessions and then just ended up in the expo.

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  6. Miranda says:

    I’ll make a (probably color-coded) calendar again this year just because it’ll help me keep my head screwed on straight(er). But spontaneity was my favorite thing last year. Going off-schedule and just enjoying people was what made the conference.

    And comfortable shoes.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Mine is color coded again because I need to have plans, nothing wrong with plans. I just need to remember to veer.

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  7. Leah says:

    Even though I have no business pretending to be a real blogger, you and Suzanne really make me want to try this thing out some year.

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    Amy Reply:

    Here’s hoping for Chicago 2013!

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  8. OT and ET says:

    i’m with Leah – sounds like so much fun i wish i could go this year and have high hopes for ’13!

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  9. This’ll be my first BlogHer, though because I’m active in blogger groups, it feels like their memories are mine and I have already been to several (how weird is that?)

    Hope to run into you when I get lost this year. I’ll be the one wearing black from head to to (probably) looking like I know what I’m doing but actually having no clue :)

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I hope to run in to you as well. It is overwhelming for everyone, rookies, veterans and even those just returning for a second (like me!). I’ve heard the Hilton is pretty close quarters, so I’m bracing myself for that.

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  10. Sarah says:

    This will be my first BlogHer and it is very overwhelming trying to keep up with all the activities being planned and preparing for everything. This is some great advice to keep everything in perspective. For the Geek Bar and Writing Lab sessions, can you still attend sold out events if you sit on the floor?

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    Amy Reply:

    I don’t remember the geek bars being ticketed at all last year. There were appointments, but not sessions. I think. Also, I think the writing labs are new this year. Sorry, that isn’t very helpful , is it. The short answer is: I don’t know, but probably not. If you tweet @blogher, they are very receptive to questions and I’m sure they could answer you.

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  11. This will be my first BlogHer. I am so excited. This is a really helpful post – thanks!

    I am a little freaked out that everyone I know will be at private parties and I won’t. But I’ll deal. And meet new people in the same boat as me. And dance my butt off.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I’ll be at both, but you can be sure I will be ending my nights at the BlogHer official parties. I had tons of fun at them last year.

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  12. A wonderful post! I’m headed to NYC for my first BlogHer! I can’t BELIEVE you met Kelle – she’s kind of my idol. :)

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