Home! And sleep! Two of the most welcome words after being stuck in an airport overnight! I am still exhausted, but slowly getting sorted out and definitely looking forward to returning to what passes for a normal routine tomorrow.
As you probably picked up from my posts throughout this past weekend, I had a phenomenal time at BlogHer ’12. (No, really?!) Now that I am no longer a conference newbie, however, I know there are a few things that I would do differently next year to make my experience even more fabulous. I thought I’d take a few minutes now and write them out while they’re fresh in my mind, so I’ll have something to look back on when preparing for next year (and so that future newbies might benefit from my experience!).
- Get a smartphone already, and use it! After resisting the pull for many years, I do believe my days of carrying a dumb phone + iPod Touch + camera are rapidly coming to an end. I’ve been feeling the need for awhile now, and my experience this weekend reinforced the fact that it’s time to consolidate. Having just one instrument for phone and internet connectivity AND taking photos and videos would not only have lightened my load considerably, but also motivated me to actually use the tools consistently. When it’s a pain in the neck to fumble around in a huge bag for the appropriate gadget, the tendency (at least for me) is to simply not bother. I know I would have felt much more engaged and connected if I could have easily messaged friends for meetups, taken spontaneous photos/videos, Tweeted my experiences as they happened, and so on.
- Make a more concerted effort to contact online friends to meet up in person. I was extremely fortunate to have connected with a couple of the people with whom I’ve chatted online, but there were several that I simply didn’t catch up with yet would have loved to have met in person. It’s against the odds that you’ll randomly run into someone you only know online when you’re surrounded by some 5,000 conference attendees! I think next time I’d be more intentional about the process – perhaps make a list (before I even leave for the conference) of the people I specifically wanted to see, and message them right at the start of the event to coordinate meetups.
- Bring a small, light purse. My big hold-all bag was great to have while traveling, but was awfully unwieldy (and heavy!) when doing a lot of walking at a crowded event (particularly when paired with a stuffed conference tote). Next time I would also bring something small enough to hold the essentials (room key, business cards, phone, lip balm), use the conference tote to carry my iPad and charger, and leave the rest behind.
- Bring a refillable water bottle. Yes, it’s one more thing to carry, but I’m used to drinking a lot of water and this weekend I felt as though I was constantly thirsty!
- Pack clothes for evening fun. For this trip I packed one casual outfit per day plus a couple of spare pieces in case of mood changes, spills, etc. Unfortunately, while the clothes I brought were very comfortable for the daytime activities, I felt rather frumpy at the parties and celebrations in the evening! Next time I’ll definitely bring a couple of outfits that are a little more special – nothing super dressy, just less casual than my comfy daytime wear – and enjoy the parties in style.
- Practice better networking skills. Going into the conference I was rather anxious and distracted about my shyness taking over, which (fortunately!) didn’t prove to be the case. That said, while I had a lot of fun and actually felt comfortable when meeting new people, my networking skills are sadly lacking! I need to remember to take things a step further – learning to listen (as opposed to waiting for my turn to speak) and really engaging with conference attendees, sponsors, etc. would be a much more effective and beneficial strategy for all concerned.
All in all, though, I am really pleased with how the weekend played out and am looking forward with great anticipation to next year!
If you attended BlogHer ’12, what would you do differently?