Headed out to your first blogging conference? If you’re a little nervous or not sure how to prepare, be sure to read this post for some great tips!
After taking almost two entire years off from conference speaking, I finally decided to say yes to some opportunities again this year to see how it would feel to be back on the road.
And I have honestly LOVED being back on the road and getting to speak at conferences again! I forgot how much I enjoyed it!
While I was recently at the ThinkTank conference, I was sort of reminded how easy it is to slip into the background or feel like an outsider.
So I thought it’d be beneficial to put together some helpful tips on how to get the most out of a blogging conference.
Here’s what I suggest to really maximize your blogging conference experience:
1. Do your research.
Before you even say yes to a blogging conference, I highly recommend researching it to make sure it’s a conference that fits your needs well.
Look at the speaker line-up and the topics that will be presented to see if they’ll meet you where you are as a blogger.
Ask other people’s opinions on their past experience with that specific conference.
And once you’ve decided you’re going to go to the conference, be sure to do your own research as well!
Know the main focus of the conference, what sessions will be available, which sessions you’re most interested in going to, and which ones you definitely don’t want to miss.
I also recommend having a backup session to attend if you find that you just aren’t getting anything out of a certain session like you thought you would. Sit closer to the back and slip out and go to the backup session instead!
2. Connect ahead of time.
Try to connect with both the speakers and the attendees before you go!
Blogging conferences often have hashtags associated with them, so you can use social media to connect with other speakers and attendees ahead of time by using that hashtag!
And sometimes the blogging conference will release a list on their website of who will be there.
Connecting ahead of time is really beneficial — especially if you’re going to be by yourself and don’t want to feel alone.
Try to reach out to a few of the speakers and let them know you’re excited to go to their sessions and would love to get the chance to ask them a few questions after the session.
Also, reach out to as many attendees as you can who will be there. Ask them if they’ve been before and if they have any tips for you. If they seem like they are helpful and friendly, consider getting brave and asking if you can meet up for coffee ahead of time or if you could go together to the initial networking hour or meal.
It’s helpful to have a few connections and to know a few names and face ahead of time. That way, when you get there, you feel a little bit more comfortable and you can jump right into learning and building relationships!
3. Play full out.
This is a phrase Michael Hyatt uses, and it’s one that I have continuously reminded myself of over the years.
It’s SO easy to show up at a blogging conference and immediately feel overwhelmed and less-than.
You might find yourself feeling all alone — like you’re the only person who doesn’t know everyone else. Or you might feel out of your league and second guess why you even attended the event in the first place.
But I encourage you to show up, get outside your comfort zone, approach people, make conversation, look at name tags, and connect with people. Make the most of it and learn as much as you can!
Pretend to be an extrovert even if you aren’t. Meet people and ask a lot of questions. Invite people to coffee or lunch. Soak everything up!
I really believe some of the most beneficial stuff that happens at a blogging conference happens outside of the sessions when you’re connecting and networking with other bloggers.
So many things I’ve learned at blogging conference were not shared in sessions but when I was in the hall and brainstorming with someone else attending the conference.
And you might even find that some of the connections you make at blogging conferences turn into really great long-term relationships for years to come!
Tip: I try to have a few questions ready to ask anytime I’m meeting someone new. For instance, “How long have you been blogging? What is your blog about? Have you been to this conference before? What sessions have you gone to? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve learned so far?”
Listen for things they share that you can ask followup questions to… and likely, with just a few starter questions like this, you might make a lifelong friend OR at least learn some fascinating and helpful information!
4. Ask a lot of questions.
Remember that you don’t know it all and you’re at the blogging conference to learn!
So when you’re connecting with people in hallways and stepping out of your comfort zone, ask questions! People usually love to talk about themselves and what they know. And you can learn so much from it.
I try to have a few questions ready to ask anytime I’m meeting someone new. For instance, at a blogging conference, I might start by asking:
- How long have you been blogging?
- What is your blog about?
- Have you been to this conference before?
- What sessions have you gone to?
Listen for things they share that you can ask followup questions to. Oftentimes, I’ll pick up on a little phrase someone said in response that I’ll ask more about and this can open the door to fascinating conversations.
Once I’ve gotten to know a person a little bit, if I can tell they are willing to have a more in-depth conversation, I’ll move to asking questions like:
- “What’s the best performing thing on your blog right now?”
- “What’s working on social media for you right now?”
- “What are you doing to connect to your audience?”
- “What are you using for your email list?”
So often, we miss out on learning incredible tidbits of wisdom because we just don’t take the time to ask good questions.
5. Look for opportunities to serve.
In addition to asking questions and learning as much as you can, there are often opportunities to serve at blogging conferences.
If there’s someone sitting by themselves, go introduce yourself and talk to them. Look for people you can encourage and give advice to.
You could even volunteer to help out with a session or the conference. Keep an eye out for opportunities and don’t be afraid to reach out!
How do you make the most of blogging conferences? What are some of your favorite blogging conferences? I’d love to hear in the comments!