Blog Conference Prep: Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Talk to People

junior high cafeteria

A blog conference is not the junior high cafeteria all over again and you don't have to sit alone!

A big fear before a blog conference is will I know anyone and will anyone talk to me? While you can do things before the conference to connect with other conference-goers, it’s hard to get over that fear that you’ll be re-enacting that awkward junior high scene of standing in the doorway to the lunchroom and not knowing where to sit.

Some tips to remember when you have those moments of fear:

1. You always have an easy “pick-up” line: Hey baby, what’s your twitter handle? Okay, I wouldn’t put it like that, but you are all bloggers. Finally, you are in a room full of people who get it instead of giving you a funny look when you say you blog. Swap blog cards, ask what session someone just came from, talk about your blogs! No matter your blogging niche, you have a lot in common with the people around you.

2. Don’t ever think someone doesn’t want to talk to you. You see that woman who looks like she’s super-involved tweeting away on her phone? Or that one who only smiled as you passed each other in the expo hall? She might be too nervous to go talk to you. Bloggers are unique in that we express ourselves through the typed word and can sometimes be quiet IRL. So, YOU can be the one to strike up a conversation. Remember that conversation works two ways: as friendly as people can be at conferences, you can’t expect that everyone will approach you- you need to approach people, too!

3. Everyone has been a newbie at one time. Even those bloggers whose names are enough to make the rest of us swoon with blog envy: they had their turn at being a newbie. And they remember what it was like. They are there to meet people, too.  Go talk to them- they will talk to you!

4. Twitter is your friend. Watch the conference stream. People will tweet what they are off to do and often invite others to go with them. Or you can tweet that you are about to go do something like go find a snack, and ask if someone wants to come along. Tweet that you’re going off to find a drink and I’ll probably show up at your side. Also, Blissdom has Community Leaders for different niches. Send out your tweet with both the Blissdom hashtag and the one that applies to you like #BlissdomNewbies if you are looking for a friendly face.

What are your tips for connecting with others at a conference?

This post is a part of a Blog Conference Prep series that Ashley from My Front Porch Swing and I are working on. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series:

And don’t miss Ashley’s post today about How to Talk to Brands at a Conference. If you have any questions about getting ready for a blog conference that you’d like us to answer, just let us know!

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Comments

  1. Well, as someone who pretty much failed miserably at her first conference I must say I am REALLY nervous about this next go-round.

    I have had a couple opportunities to meet other bloggers in my own town recently and I did great just hopping in there and asking their names and blog names. I have a little of my confidence back. But going to another big conference will be a challenge for me. I know I just have to hold my head up high and try again.
    molly recently posted..When I think my morning is hardMy Profile

    • You’ll love it this time around. And girl, you better find me!!!!

      I had a hard time at my first one b/c I felt like everyone knew each other and I was just left out. I realized that wasn’t the case at all and got better at reaching out. You can do this!

  2. Thank you for this awesome, information packed post!

    I was recently driving in my car, thinking about BlissDom and listening to Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers when the song, ‘We Belong Here’ started to play. In the song Stephen sings about that feeling like you won’t fit in and realizing that you are exactly where you are meant to be, and that this is the time to embrace our dreams and enjoy where we are right now. I’ve made this song my BlissDom theme song!

    I’ve been to various conferences including blog conferences and professional conferences. No matter what the conference theme, we’re all there because we share common interests and most people are nervous when faced with large rooms of strangers and so we share that, too.

    Quite some time ago I wrote a post about networking when I realized sometimes all it takes is a deep breath, a smile, and “hello” to get the conversation going.

    Chrysta
    Chrysta Bairre recently posted..Know when to quitMy Profile

    • Sounds like a great theme song for the conference!

      I know people go to things like this and say or think “Why isn’t anyone talking to me?” but really, it just takes being the one to say Hello!

  3. Just reading this gives me butterflies. But yes, great advice. I have actually gotten pretty good at just jumping right it since we move so much I just have to do it- though I am best at in church settings where I know there is something in common at least- but like you say with a blogging conference, blogging is a common thing everyone has already.
    Emmy recently posted..Proud Mommy Moments: Really Already?My Profile

  4. I will definitely have to check out your other posts. Going to BlogHer and I’m definitely nervous!!
    melissa recently posted..Life’s Simple Pleasures: ReadingMy Profile

  5. —I’d love to go to one of these conferences.

    I’d just walk up to one of my fave. bloggers and say, “Hey, lets have a glass of wine or two together!”

    I think the only one that may intimidate me is “Dooce.”

    X Great post as usual.
    My Inner Chick recently posted..Picking Up The PiecesMy Profile

    • Offering wine is a always a good idea. Um, or maybe that is just me.

      Confession: at the first blog conference I was at, Dooce was mentioned and I asked the person beside me who that was. LMAO I think that made me realize though that no matter how big a blogger is, none of them are truly known by everyone- they are all just people- so it’s okay to go talk to all of them!

  6. These are all very good points and advice. I love watching newbies open up by the end of the conference. :)
    Kim recently posted..Snow CraftsMy Profile

  7. I feel like this post is well meaning, but possibly also just a lead-up to the post, Why You Should Be Suspicious of the Person Wearing a Ski Mask, Aka The Blog Conference Massacre.
    Megan – Best of Fates recently posted..Bigfoot SightingMy Profile

  8. Such great advice! Blissdom 2012 will be only my second blog conference with my first being BLOGHER last summer. Talk about being baptized by fire! But you are so right – just start with a simple opening line (I even practiced mine before I arrived!) and go with it. It can be as simple as “Hi! I’m Megan. I write at SortaCrunchy. Here’s my card …” and then the other person introduces herself and there you go.

    I found it good to have small talk questions ready to go, too, like “How long have you been blogging? What other conferences have you been to? What has been your favorite session so far?” Stuff like that.

    It helps to remember that the women who are there are committed to getting something out of being at Blissdom. You don’t spend hundreds of dollars on ticket, transportation, and hotel just to go be snooty in the corner. Everyone wants to make connections, so just put yourself out there! You never know WHO you’ll meet!
    Megan at SortaCrunchy recently posted..Your Green Resource – Week SeventeenMy Profile

    • Oh, I bet! I haven’t been to BlogHer yet. One of these days.

      Very true- people are there to meet people, not to just keep to themselves. It dos just take that Hi to get it started!

  9. I think it really helps (if you’re introverted like me) to have a roommate, so you have someone you can connect with and walk into that first conference session with :-)
    Lisa @ Two Bears Farm recently posted..Treating My Insomnia NaturallyMy Profile

  10. I love number four. You really never know who you might end up sitting next to and starting a friendship with.
    JDaniel4s Mom recently posted..I am Unemployed?My Profile

  11. All great advice. I am really hoping to be able to attend my first conference this year and don’t want to let the shy overcome me!
    Mel recently posted..HeavyMy Profile

  12. Reading these posts from you and Ashley make me feel like you are guiding us through this experience :) And that makes me feel a little less nervous. A little.

    • Don’t be nervous! You’ll have the fabulous Kir right by your side- and Ash and I will come find you both! xo

  13. #2 is so dead on. I used to be an extrovert when I was younger but have grown a bit more quiet until I really get to know someone. I think I would be nervous to talk but just you pointing this out makes me feel better that I’m not abnormal.
    Kristen recently posted..Weekend Breakfast at Our House…My Profile

    • I’m like that a lot, too. Though I’ve learned to push my way out of it at blog conferences- b/c they only last a short period of time, so that waiting to get to know someone time isn’t there.

  14. I’ve been to super small “blogger get-togethers” to E3 last year that had ~47k folks turn up and I can say, without a doubt, that people will talk to you if you talk to them.

    I’m not saying you should follow them around or anything until they talk to you–because that’s creepy–but if your eyes meet, smile and say something; “Hi!” usually works.

    And you’re totally right about Twitter. It saved my butt at BlogHer and was the only way I found my way back to people when we were at E3. Also, the hotel’s pretty big and you’re bound to get lost at least once. Tweeting: “HALP! I’m lost at #Blissdom” is bound to send a gaggle of giggling ladies your way.
    Amy @ Taste Like Crazy recently posted..Amy the Ironless and/or Amy the RamblerMy Profile

    • Ha! Yeah- no stalking- but being the first to say hi helps. No one should ever think “why isn’t anyone talking to me?” when they can just go up and start the conversation themselves.

  15. I don’t have any plans to attend a blog conference but I’ll remember this advice if I ever do!
    Diane@BeStillaMinute recently posted..What I’ve Learned From Extroverts…My Profile

  16. Attended Blissdom two years ago as my first conference. Was overwhelmed for the first half of it, but the gals are all so nice and friendly. Learned not to be afraid to sit at a table full of ‘strangers’ and start introducing myself. Have made some very valuable friendships!
    Aubrey recently posted..Of Cold Weather and Inside EntertainmentMy Profile

  17. I SO wish I could do this. It sounds like extraordinary fun, and something that has to go on my bucket list. Though it better happen LONG LONG LONG before I kick that bucket.
    Jessie Powell recently posted..FrozenMy Profile

  18. And, another reminder that I need to make my business cards . . . I think I have my weekend project.
    John recently posted..Where I write about strippers, and Spongebob, and free beerMy Profile

  19. I’d love to attend a blog conference! But every time I hear of one, it’s already passed! Is there some blog conference email loop to get on or something? LOL If there is one near the San Diego, CA or Los Angeles, CA areas anytime soon, I’d love to be there.
    Katrina recently posted..Birds fly. Fish swim.My Profile

  20. I went to Bloggy Boot Camp in Atlanta knowing no-one – and everyone I met was so friendly ….including you of course :)
    Janmary, N Ireland recently posted..Went for a walk with this gorgeous wee boy and his mum this morning #iphoneography #instagram366 #p365 [Flickr]My Profile

  21. Great tips! (which I’ll apply for BlogHer).
    Lady Jennie recently posted..Drama, Drama, Dra …My Profile

  22. Such great tips, Shell! And so important to remember- Woohoo! You’re with those who *get* it! Love that one!
    Galit Breen recently posted..Go For It, AlwaysMy Profile

    • That’s the best part- people understanding blogging. It always makes me want to sing “These are my people!”

  23. Thank you for the reminder that no matter who we are in the “outside” world, and no matter how big our blogs are, we all have blogging in common. And that’s a pretty good springboard for conversation and friendship.

    I.can’t.WAIT!!!!! :) I really hope we meet up.
    Mrs. Jen B recently posted..Wellness Wednesday: Slipping Up & Righting MyselfMy Profile

  24. I’m pretty sure I’ll be going to Blogher this year (since it’s in NYC), so this is helpful. Thank you for the tips. You’ve been to several conferences I’m assuming? Which ones do you recommend/have you benefited from the most?
    Jen Has A Pen recently posted..Power Rangers and Barbies and Candyland, Oh My!My Profile

    • I’ve gone to Blissdom(this will be my second time), Type A Parent(twice, will be going a third time this summer), two Bloggy Bootcamps, and one NC MomCon.

      They all have their own feel to them. It just depends on what you are looking for.

  25. I am so glad I stumbled across your blog! :) Aside from being born on the “shy side of the tracks”, I think my biggest mental road block when it comes to attending any blogging event is the fact that I don’t fit the “Mummy Blogger” mold! However, my guess is after reading your post and the subsequent comments that if I don’t go, I’m definitely missing out!

    • You truly don’t have to- just being in the blogging/social media world gives you so much in common with other attendees- no matteryour niche.

  26. And if no one still wants to talk to you…you can do what I do and talk to yourself…LOL
    These are awesome tips and it makes me feel much better about how to approach or if I should…I mean YOU are going to talk to me right??? ;)
    Kir recently posted..Proud Mommy Moments: Jackie from With Just A Bit of Magic is Here!My Profile

  27. Blog cards?

    After all this time, ‘niche’ is still a problem for me.

    “a roomful of people who get it.” No doubt.
    Maggie S. recently posted..Friendship, Fear and Trepidation…My Profile

  28. Hi I am following this series that you are doing with Ashley – very helpful – keep them coming. :) I do have a question about the notice you have about GFC at the top of your blog. I need to add this to my own blog. This is simple and effective. Did you use a plugin for it?
    Thanks -
    Diane

    • I did use a plug-in for it- or actually, Ashley used a plug-in for it. She does all my technical stuff on my blog. She could answer your question. :)

  29. I don’t know, Shell. I’m still scared beyond belief to attend a conference. Still have those nerves that no one will know who I am!!

  30. Great tips, and buried in #1 was “business” cards. They are a must!
    When I did a writers conference, I collected them and then went back through them to remember who I met, etc.
    Carolyn recently posted..Another One Done!My Profile

  31. I so want to go to a Blogher conference one of these days!
    Momma Fargo recently posted..Flower PowerMy Profile

  32. Interesing that I now refuse to attend any blog conferences. I attended a large lunch once where several local bloggers got together to meet in real life. So many women would swoon about my blog, but then after when I researched, none of them had actually BEEN to my blog. I decided it was such a front for people to pimp themselves out.

    I’m sure not all get togethers or conferences are like that, but it kinda soured it for me.
    mCat recently posted..That is the grooviest thing….. I want oneMy Profile

    • Ugh. Not a good experience.

      I had a bad experience at my first one- where I didn’t know who someone was and apparently, I “should” have. She was very rude about it. I felt SO intimidated, as I was a new blogger. But, I’ve had much better experiences other times.

  33. I am so guilty of #2! I don’t know what it is! My first conference, I swear everyone and their mom knew each other. I felt, literally, like the last one picked! Wah! It was traumatic for me, to the point where I’m trying to convince my sister to blog, just so I can bribe her into going to a conference with me! LOL!
    Jennifer recently posted..Cradle Robber – AFMy Profile

  34. I’ve let this fear of being left out and not having a super popular blog keep me from attending conferences in the past. This year I’ve decided not to let fear stop me, and I’m going to attend a conference where I won’t know anyone!
    Laura Jane @ Recovering Chocoholic recently posted..Reasons for Losing WeightMy Profile

    • You’ll find that there will be brand-new bloggers all the way up thru bloggers who have been blogging forever… it’s definitely not just “super popular” bloggers who go.

  35. Twitter is such a great “introduction” when it comes to conferences, both before and during. Great tips!
    liz recently posted..Damn You Autocorrect, BBCD-styleMy Profile

  36. This is awesome. I actually just went to a tech conference alone last weekend and was terrified (even though it was my third year there). Naturally, I had a blast. However, something about throwing yourself into a conference of 750 women is even more terrifying, so this put some of my fears to rest =)

    See you in a month?
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..R&R in Costa RicaMy Profile

  37. When I went to BlogHer my biggest fear was that no one would talk to me. Once I got there I got over it since I found that I knew so many people. It was also helpful to use the hashtag for the conference to stay in contact with people.
    Jessica recently posted..Pregnancy, Dateline, and Turning 30My Profile

  38. I am so intimidated to just walk up to somebody and start talking. It’s always been a huge fear of mine. Going into Blissdom, my first conference ever, I am so afraid of getting lost in the shuffle and not talking to anyone.

    I definitely have to remember to tweet while I’m there. Also? Would so love to meet you!!
    Kimberly recently posted..Dreams Come TrueMy Profile

  39. I know i’m a little late reading this post but I am a newbie attending Blissdom 2013 in Dallas.  This post made me a little less nervous.  thank you! 

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