Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

If I Was… Going to BlogHer ’10

Posted on Aug 1, 2010 in Featured |

If I Was… Going to BlogHer ’10

…oh wait, I am going to BlogHer10. But still.

I attended the very first BlogHer in Silicon Valley. I have to say, it wasn’t earth shattering for me. I never considered myself a pro blogger or even an aspiring pro blogger. I have been a journalist. I consider myself one of the tribe. Attending the first BlogHer didn’t do it for me. I was a bit annoyed at all the discussion of blogging for money, blogging for this, blogging for that. And why the focus on women? Weren’t journalists unbiased? Weren’t we held to the high code of honor to never entertain advertorial? It seemed, to me, at least, that BlogHer was one big amateur fest of women that wanted to be paid for their writing. What was the big deal? I thought BlogHer wouldn’t make it to year two. Holy hell, did I miss that one.

In 2008, with a ticket in-hand, I blew off BlogHer in San Francisco in lieu of taking my kids to Pier 39 and dinking around the City. I guess I *still* didn’t drink the kool-aid. BlogHer just seems like so.much.work. It also seems like a sorority gone wrong. Alpha Delta Ohmyfuckinggodstoppitchingme. But again, I was wrong. I had clients that did great business at BlogHer, business that moved the needle in their communications with bloggers.

On Wednesday I leave for BlogHer 2010. This time, I get it. I am at BlogHer to see my people. Some of them are indeed journalists and many I have come to know are not. In fact, many are people that I have grown to respect, admire and some times, get star-struck by. And those craft bloggers that I endlessly made fun of? Those are the ones that are at the core of some of the greatest work in the blogging industry who I am constantly learning from. This year, I am going to BlogHer to celebrate simply being a woman in a cutting-edge industry. I am going to have a cocktail. I am going to support my dear friend in her new book club venture, From Left 2 Write. I’m there for my new project with The SJFive, a kids geocaching adventure coming this fall. And then there is the marketing Me part. The I’m-A-Startup-Advisor-for-Women-Yes-We-Should-Talk-Here’s-My-Card part. That’s my least favorite part. I’m much better at marketing you than marketing me.

On that note, here’s my advice for those going to BlogHer ’10:

1. Without exception, be you. At the end of the day (and beginning, middle and end), being yourself is the very best marketing tool you have. This doesn’t mean dress like you’re homeless or neglect to brush your hair. It just means, be you. If a vendor doesn’t feel like the right match for you, then smile and leave. If a breakout session doesn’t offer what you are needing or how you want to spend your time, just leave. It’s not worth it to stick around half-assed with people, parties or conference sessions that don’t make you feel like you are getting your money’s worth.

2. Take a break. Now everyone talks about how crazy the conference is (and it is); how many parties they are attending (trust me, the free drinks aren’t always worth it); the sponsor events you must go to in order to maximize your time (ever heard of email?). The truth is, this stuff is truly overwhelming, overstimulating and over the top. Taking a break doesn’t mean meeting someone for coffee or even taking a yoga class. Taking a break means going to your room and putting your feet up without your laptop. It means putting on your headphones and stomping down the NYC streets smelling the City and people watching.

3. Live in the Moment. I know that you are wondering which event you are missing, where you should be and what you should be wearing. But being present and enjoying the process is something that I have worked toward for a long time. I’m not great at it at all. I suck. I’m always looking to where I should be, what’s next. I’m slowly learning to live more in the moment. Its my hope and advice to realize how damn lucky we are to be in the midst of great women doing great things and do my best to enjoy ever second I have to learn from them.

4. Plan. A Bit. I’m going to be going mostly under the radar this year. I’ll be going to a couple of parties, but not a ton. I’ll be going to some of the conference elements, but not all. I’ll be meeting up with friends but I also plan to be alone. My plan this year is to (a) not have a hangover (b) look my best (c) exercise Friday, Saturday and Sunday including the BlogHer 5k and an @EatBlogRun and @runteamsparkle reunion. (d) listen to some great speakers work their magic and (e). Bring something home to my children that’s one step above the mad dash at Barak Obama bobble heads at the sundry shop at the airport 20 minutes before boarding.

5. Forget the Popularity Contest. It’s already happening, just as it does every year. Is @punditmom going to be at this-and-that? Who will reign now that @queenofspain is not attending? What will @jessicagottlieb say/do/hang out with? Who is going to be at the cool parties? Who is having a private dinner with the @chevymissions team. Should I be jealous? How do I get in? Do they know I’m famous on Twitter?! Forget it. Seriously, forget it. When women get together — holy crap over 4,000 including sponsors — both magic and shit happen. Women are, well, women. For me it’s important to remember that it better be damn important to be 3,000 miles from my children and spouse for four days and it ain’t to worry about this stuff. Do your own thing, refer to #1 above and you’ll be fine.

My final goal for next week is to Learn. One of my favorite life lessons has been that I am not as smart as I think I am. Or that I am, but there are many that are smarter and smarter in different ways than I am. I don’t plan to market myself at BlogHer. I know that’s what’s done and I know it’s a game you have to play, but it’s just not why I am there. I’m there to learn from the best in the business. And for that alone, I can’t wait.