After spending a week at the Travel Blogger Exchange conference in Keystone, Colorado, I find that I'm walking away with a few very valuable lessons...
I want to share these with you today, because while they were directed at travel bloggers and travel writers, they also apply to any kind of blogging and really, they can be applied to any aspect of every day life.
1. Be Yourself.
There will always be people that are better than you at what you do. There will always be people who are more successful than you in your chosen profession. Instead of measuring your awesomeness by theirs, just embrace your own unique personality. You have a voice that no one else has, so be confident and let it shine through.
Case in point: I'm The Rebel Chick. I can't compare to journalists that have been published in Nat Geo. I didn't go to college and major in journalism. BUT I have a voice that those people don't have: I'm a 30's something wife and mother that escaped the Corporate Machine to stay home, be there for her daughter and travel the world. Surprisingly, I met people this past weekend that responded to that - they liked me, my voice, and didn't ask me about my pages views or where I'd been published. It felt really, really good.
2. Do a little research on the people you plan to meet and the places you'll be staying.
My trip to Colorado came at an inconvenient time, and I did not adequately prepare for the people I was about to meet. Before each meeting, I rushed to learn as much as I could about them and it was embarrassing not having all of the facts together when we met face to face!
I researched the weather in Keystone, CO and packed for their cool weather. I failed to look at the weather forecast for Denver, where we were actually spending most of our time. So I lugged around a gigantic, heavy suitcase that was mostly packed with clothes and boots that I never wore. Doh!
3. Don't over schedule yourself.
I had 2.5 days to meet a ton of people, attend parties and scheduled sessions, private meetings and network. There were days when we had 3 events happening at the same time, and as much as I planned to hop from party to party, it was impossible. I ended up missing several parties and a few private meetings because there simply was not enough time to do it all.
Before you arrive at a business gathering, or even a personal vacation, schedule yourself realistically. Prioritize your meetings and ask yourself, "what do I really want to accomplish at this event?"
4. Be confident and assertive.
I went into this conference having never been in a professional blogger setting before. I had attended a small weekend getaway with bloggers in May, but the trip wasn't actually about blogging, so I was not sure how to interact with my colleagues and the brands attending the conference.
To say that I was intimidated would be an understatement! But I sucked it up and put myself out there and it worked well for me. Much to my surprise, some people that I met actually knew who I was.
I know, shocker, right?!
Wherever you go, whomever you meet - just put yourself out there. Be confident in who you are and the rest will fall into place.
5. Don't expect too much.
On one of my first nights in Denver, a fellow travel blogger asked me what I hoped to gain from my attendance at this conference. I was completely honest and told him that I wanted to learn to be a more professional travel blogger and to make professional connections. He told me not to expect too much of the latter. Hmm...
The classes weren't as inspirational and educational as I'd hoped. After blogging for over two years, I knew most of the material covered. As far as meeting new contacts in the PR world, it was hit or miss. I did become friendly with a few people and had a few companies ask to speak with me at a later date about potential partnerships, but I know better than to count my chickens before they hatch, as we say in the South.
Luckily, I went into this conference not expecting much, other than exploring a new city and socializing with fellow travel bloggers. If nothing comes out of the new connections that I have made, the trip would have still been completely successful.
Have you attended blogging conferences - or any professions networking event? I'd love to hear what you took away from them!