I must have been out of my mind. Last year, without knowing a single soul who was going or really why I had a blog in the first place, I registered for Blissdom.
Blissdom is “the premiere conference for women who find and express their bliss by publishing online.” It’s put on by online magazine Blissfully Domestic and One2One Network, a women’s word-of-mouth marketing network. And it’s held each February in Nashville.
And that little paragraph up there? That’s about all I knew as I got on a plane and headed south almost one year ago.
Since that weekend in February – and because of it, really – I have made several amazing friends and had a couple incredible opportunities. All thanks to blogging and the insane, what-was-I-thinking decision to attend Blissdom.
This year, I’m excited to return to the conference that helped me see blogging as more than a random way to pass the time after putting my daughter to bed. This year’s event promises to be bigger and better with a larger attendance and a fancy-schmancy hotel. And ohmygoodness, have you heard? Harry Connick, Jr., will be there!
[Insert pounding heart and, let’s be honest, crazy eyes here.]
But more importantly than even Harry and the chance to stay at the Grand Ole Opry hotel? (Well, slightly more important than Harry…) The one-two knockout punch of information-packed seminars and the chance to hang out with my blogging friends and meet more amazing women who don’t look at me strangely when I say things like, “Wait! Can you do that again? I want to take a picture for my blog.”
As someone who went to last year’s conference completely unprepared and proceeded to get completely overwhelmed, I’m here to offer you some advice. Here are the first five ways to get ready for Blissdom:
- Register. Now, this might seem obvious, but I’d be willing to be my sturdy yet cute Lands End tote bag from last year’s conference that somebody reading this post has been thinking about going for a while but has not had the nerve to register yet. Stop thinking about it and do it! Only 500 tickets will be sold, and I suspect most of those are already spoken for. So, first order of business: Go straight to the registration page and get yourself a ticket!
- Order business cards. Perhaps this, too, is obvious to some of you. Last year, it was not so clear to me. So learn from my mistake. Though most of Blissdom will feel like a girls’ weekend retreat, it’s really a business meeting. And you’d never go to a business meeting without some way of helping people remember you! This doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. A basic design or even a template will do, and plenty of printers offer economical options. I printed mine at FedEx Kinko’s, but I’ve also heard lots of people talk about Vistaprint and MOO.
- Get connected. Join the Blissdom Facebook group and follow @Blissdom and the Blissdom hashtag (#blissdom) on Twitter. This will give you access to all the fun chatter about the upcoming conference, including tips and insights from people who have attended before. (For example, if I’d done this last year, I would have known to bring business cards.) Following the conversation on Facebook and Twitter will also tell you who’s going this year. And that leads me to #4 . . .
- Find out who’s going to Blissdom. I’m not saying you should stalk your fellow conference attendees. But I am saying you should find out who’s going, read their blogs and follow them on Twitter. You could even, if you’re as
crazyorganized as mesome people, make a list of people you want to meet throughout the weekend. The place to start for a list of attendees would be the Facebook group, but another place would be The Nester’s link-up and Lisa Boyd’s link-up at Simply His.
- Make a friend. If you’ve been blogging for any time at all – or even just lurking around the blogosphere – I would bet you’ve got a bloggy friend or two. However, if they’re not attending, you still have time to make new friends who are. When you find someone you like, whether through the Twitter stream, the Facebook group or a link-up of people attending, start commenting on their posts. Or send a quick e-mail. Who doesn’t like hearing, “I love your blog and look forward to meeting you.”?? Follow that up with a quick, “I see you’re going to Blissdom. So am I! Maybe we can see each other there!” and you might just have yourself a new friend.
I’m serious on that last point, you all. When I was frantically trying to figure out WHAT ON EARTH I WAS DOING shortly before last year’s conference, I stumbled onto Jenny Rapson’s blog, Mommin’ It Up. I left her a comment, she replied with an e-mail, and instantly I felt like I wasn’t quite so alone on this conference adventure. She, of course, was super nice when I met her in person last year, and while we didn’t hang out, it was just nice to see a familiar face and to be greeted with a smile.
All right, that’s the first five tips I have for you. As my ninth grade history teacher would say each day as we fled his classroom, “Read, study and comprehend.” And then come back tomorrow for the last five ways to prepare for Blissdom.
Are you going to Blissdom? If not, have you gone to other conferences in the past year?
This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.