As you could probably tell from the detailed BlogHer posts, this conference surpassed my expectations and left me counting the days until BlogHer 2011. The project manager in me has to evaluate the event and document learnings for next time.
Organization – This was a very organized event. There was excellent signage throughout the event areas and lobby which was impressive given it covered two floors and lots of space.
Most amazing of all was that I never had to wait in line for a bathroom. Seriously, a conference with 2,500 people of whom 90% are female and I never had to wait to go. Kudos for that! Come to think of it the longest line I had all weekend was waiting for my picture with Bruce Jenner.
Food – The food was varied and tasty at the included breakfasts and lunches. Breakfast had a choice of hot or cold cereal, egg sandwich, yogurt, fruit, juices and more. I didn’t have to buy any food from the time I got to New York until Sunday evening thanks to all the conference and sponsored events.
Size– BlogHer is so big that it can be overwhelming. I headed to my room for a few moments of quiet each day. There are almost too many options on what to do at any given time of day.
Elevator – The hotel elevators were not able to handle this large group of people coming and going at the same times throughout the day. The longest wait (versus line) I had was for an elevator and it took sometimes 15-20 minutes to get on one.
Sessions – This may have been because I had just been to a content-rich conference, but the sessions overall didn’t appeal to me. This was surprising given the large number of choices. I was really here for the networking and connections so this really wasn’t a concern in my case.
Things I Did Right
Hang Out with the Smokers – I don’t smoke but my travel companions do so I spent time with them in the front of the hotel. I met so many contacts here and we had a chance to talk in relative peace.
Fashion Doesn’t Matter – I was surprised by the number of twitter conversations about clothes. I wore slacks with blouses during the day and dresses to the night events. However, by the third day I was wearing flip flops with that dress (my feet were killing me).
But I saw everything from shorts to long evening gowns. Just wear what makes you comfortable.
Register for Parties/Events – Watch the conference hash tag on twitter and you’ll find out about events that require registration. This tactic enabled me to attend several events that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise as a first-time attendee. It was also the best time to have extended conversations with other attendees.
Stay Longer– There are three reasons to stay longer. The first is that after 2-3 days of rushing here and there with early mornings and late nights you need a rest. The second is to attend sponsored brunches or other events when most attendees have left. Lastly, enjoy the host city as it might be a while before you come back.
Lessons Learned for Next Time
Arrive Early – I regret not flying in the day before the conference. It takes all day from the West Coast to get to NYC and I missed out on a couple of events that occurred during the day. Also, it was stressful worrying about all my travel arrangements going well so I could make it to the evening parties.
Get a Sponsor – The conference fees are very reasonable ($198) thanks to the sponsors. However, the travel and hotel do add up. Many women had sponsors to offset those costs. Next year, I will actually ask someone to sponsor my expenses.
Organize Cards– I got this idea from another attendee (sorry I can’t remember who) who put all cards in a Ziploc bag. Instead, I just threw mine in my conference bag and then had the task of trying to find them all when packing to leave.
Drink Water –Pre-conference I read the advice from previous attendees to be sure and drink plenty of water. Did I heed it? Nope. The official conference bag included a water bottle and there were water stations to fill them up but I still didn’t do a good job here leaving me very thirsty with a sore throat.
Attending BlogHer was an amazing unique experience and it’s hard to explain how and why. The one thing I do know is that I’ll be there next year.