What you need to know when attending your first blogging conference to help make sure everything goes smoothly!
Attending your first blogging conference can be a real cold sweat inducer. Networking is absolutely essential within the blogging industry and the thought of trying to make a good impression with your peers and those all-important business contacts is enough to truly freak out new bloggers attending their first blogging conference.
But as I found out when I attended my first conference, Inflow Travel Summit, they’re an excellent opportunity to build contacts, establish a bigger presence in the industry and most of all, enjoy yourself. Here are seven ways to squeeze all of that useful blogging juice from your first blogging conference.
1) Be Prepared
Before you even arrive, there are a handful of things you should have prepared for your first conference.
Number one: your business cards. Seriously, nothing says professional blogger better than a good-quality business card. I’m a real advocate of Moo.com; their business cards are both colourful and slick and you can pick ones that have up to ten different images as the reverse side to showcase your photography.
Ideally, you’ll bring plenty with you, because you’ll be wanting to hand out your shiny new cards at literally every opportunity.
Secondly, come with a fully-updated media kit that you can give to any brands you meet. I can’t stress this enough; trying to explain the concept of your blog without written figures and even pictures or logos that give a sense of your style and niche is a tough call.
Finally, it’s essential that you’ve scripted your elevator pitch. You’ll meet a huge number of bloggers and businesses and if you can’t clearly and concisely introduce your blog in 30 seconds or less, you run the risk of not leaving an impression.
Remember, networking and establishing working relationships with people at the conference is your ultimate goal. Make sure you’ve got the tools to achieve this.
2) Do Your Research
Another essential tip for attending your first blogging conference is to do some research into both the companies who’ll be attending and the other bloggers who’ll be there.
Once you know which companies will be making an appearance, research the other bloggers they’ve worked with and the types of projects they’ve produced recently. This should give you some ideas for how you could go about pitching them a collaboration with your blog if the chance arrives.
For the other bloggers who’ll be in attendance, first thing’s first is to follow them on social media, particularly those who are in a similar niche to you and could be an excellent contact for the future. Knowing what people look like and a bit of information about their blogs can also be a great conversation starter and really helps when you arrive at a conference and realise you don’t know anyone else there – your only choice is to get chatting.
3) Have Some Questions Ready For Other Bloggers
When I went to Inflow Travel Summit, I had the chance to network with some of the biggest bloggers in the industry. Just being in a room with hundreds of other people who understand the industry and who are being successful in their own was incredibly inspiring and I went away with so many ideas for my blog from these conversations that I had.
By chatting to bloggers from a range of different countries, niches and levels of success and asking them what it was that they had done to get to where they were today, I left with some fascinating new strategies that I’m currently putting into practice on my own blog.
What I learned was that by doing your research into bloggers you want to meet and having some questions prepared so that you can tap into literally the best resource available – other bloggers’ experiences – can make those conversations extremely productive. I learned more in a few days of speaking to other bloggers than I had in months being active on Facebook groups or from reading posts online.
4) And The Brands
At Inflow, we had scheduled meetings with brands and while it was important to come prepared with an idea of how we would work with them in the future, a central part of that meeting revolved around finding out what they were actually looking for and whether we’d even be a good fit.
I asked what their focus for their campaigns was for the next six months and this allowed me to gauge a lot better whether there was any chance of working with them. Sometimes, you’re just not going to be a good fit, so by asking them to outline what they want can quickly help you both to see whether the partnership will bear fruit. If not, move on and find another that will.
5) Use Social Media During The Conference
It’s important to show that you’re being active and engaged with what’s going on when you’re at the conference. At Inflow Summit, every blogger was tweeting key takeaways from the keynote speakers and posting Instagram photos and stories about the experience. One of the speakers about Youtube was even streaming Facebook live as he delivered.
By checking out the hashtag for the conference, I was able to follow bloggers and Instagrammers I’d never heard about before and get some interesting ideas by watching what they’re doing. This also helped to publicise my blog too and laid the groundwork for meeting other bloggers later in the week.
6) Enjoy Yourself
Blogging conferences are busy and intense and while you’re there for professional reasons, it’s also important to remember to have a great time. When else are you going to be surrounded by a bunch of other people who get what you’re doing and who you don’t have to explain to multiple times about your blog or why you’re always tweeting and Instagramming everything in your life?
Let’s face it: it’s nice to actually connect with other people in the industry offline every once in a while so make sure you actually allow yourself to enjoy it!
7) Follow Up
While research and preparation are essential, the final golden rule of attending your first blogging conference is staying connected. Not only will you leave with a bunch of business cards of companies and bloggers who you should follow up with over the next couple of weeks, but you’ll likely go away with plenty new people on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
Meeting someone in person is completely different to online and the relationships you build up with other bloggers, in particular, can be really positive for the future, so check in with people once you’re home and look forward to having some people you know when you go to your next conference!
Want to attend your first blogging conference this year? Check out these travel blogging events in 2017:
VidCon – Anaheim, USA (21-24 June)
BlogHer – Orlando, USA (22-24 June)
TBEX Europe – Killarney, Ireland (3-5 October)
Adventure Travel World Summit – Salta, Argentina (16-19 October)
World Travel Market – London, UK (6-8 November)