OK, so the title of this blog post might be a bit presumptuous.
Does going to my very first BlogHer conference last year in New York make me an expert on packing for the event?
Probably not. But I’m a practical girl, and I thought I’d throw my advice out into the blogosphere as we get closer to the big event in Chicago.
You know, because there aren’t any other bloggers writing about BlogHer ’13 right now.
For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents on packing for BlogHer ’13:
1. Pack enough clothes for the amount of time you are leaving.
People tend to stress out about what to wear to BlogHer. Unless you’re a fashion blogger, I wouldn’t worry too much about your attire. Wear clothes that define who you are, not who you want people to think you are. I’m not big into shoes or the lastest designers. Last year, I had t-shirts made with my blog url on the front and twitter handle on the back. I was comfortable. It was fine. You might want to bring a sweater in case it gets cool in the air conditioned hotel and something a bit dressy for evening events.
2. Bring business cards.
Or not. Honestly, if you don’t have the time or the money to print out business cards for your blog, don’t stress. I have a stack of business cards from last year that just sat on my desk for months after the event. I got so many, I was overwhelmed. I recently went to a conference for entrepreneurs with a woman who told people that she forgot her business cards. That gave her control over who she would interact with after the event. She made notes about people on the business cards she collected so she knew how to follow up later. Genius. I still have some business cards, stickers and magnets from last year that I’m taking, just in case.
3. Have something handy for taking notes.
There are tons of great panels, roundtables, presentations and workshops at BlogHer, not to mention the random conversations you have with other bloggers. You’ll want to take notes at some point. My iPad and wireless keyboard worked pretty well for me last year. I’d suggest taking a laptop and your own hotspot, if you have one, if you’re planning on live blogging. There were 5,000 bloggers using the same wifi last year. It wasn’t pretty. Of course, you can go old school with a simple pen and notebook. Whatever floats your boat. If you’re like me, you’ll forget half the stuff you learned at BlogHer before you step on the plane to go home. Notes are handy!
4. Snacks will help you get through the long days.
There’s a lot going on at BlogHer from morning until evening. I’m a picky eater, and I like to eat every couple of hours or so. While BlogHer does feed you, there aren’t exactly snacks laying around when you want them. And the food isn’t always what you want. (Though you can probably find some good, free eats in the sponsor exhibition area.) I like having some sort of granola / energy bar or trail mix in my bag for sustenance in between activities or for that late evening snack.
5. Leave room in your luggage for swag.
The BlogHer conference is known for its massive amounts of swag from the many sponsors that attend. Whatever you’ve heard is true. The sponsors are amazingly generous to bloggers. Last year, I left with everything from a Hot Wheels car to a vibrator. Leave extra room in your suitcase so you don’t have to explain the random items in your carry-on bag.
6. Arrive with a basic plan of attack.
I’m a planner, and there’s a lot going on for three days. Last year, I printed out the agenda for the conference and noted the breakout sessions I wanted to attend and the sponsors I wanted to visit. I had a basic schedule in mind before I got to New York. Of course, you also want to be flexible. You might find a blogger or group of bloggers you want to connect with instead of going to a session. You might opt to network with some of the many sponsors exhibiting. Or you might just want to disappear for a little while and take in the city of Chicago. It’s your experience. Enjoy it.
7. Don’t forget to bring an open mind.
BlogHer is a big conference. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed with everything going on around you. With thousands of bloggers in one place, just know that there are bound to be a few bloggers that are just like you there. My most memorable experiences last year were the conversations I had with other bloggers. The ones I still keep in touch with a year later. The connections are all around you. Be open to them!
Will I see you at BlogHer ’13? What are you packing?
[Read my recap of BlogHer 2012]