Last year was my first year at BlogHer. The days leading to the conference, I was a wreck. In my mind, I had the preconceived notion that I would have to compete somehow with incredible people that were out of my league. It had the familiar feel of the summer before junior high, when I worried about every detail. Fortunately, at BlogHer, I did not have to dress in front of a locker room full of strangers, yet my self-confidence was approaching pre-pubescent lows. What if I was that girl wandering by myself? What if people were mean to me? What if I did not fit in? My most material concern was not having friends.
I spent a good part of my first day wandering around the hotel in New York City solo. It was Thursday before the conference and the hotel was buzzing with boisterous voices and women throwing their arms around their blogging buddies, like long lost friends. I saw many of the more well-known bloggers being hounded and smothered by their adoring fans. I did not have any aspirations to try to insert myself into the higher echelons of the blogging hierarchy. I wanted to find my own tribe. I met a few people that first night, yet I went to bed feeling like a friendless, hopeless loser. Dramatic, I know.
The next day at breakfast, I sat at a table where I knew no one, to hopefully meet some new friends. I did meet some nice women, yet I did not find any new friends. I spent time in sessions all day, meeting some people that I talk to today, but later found myself by myself.
That night, I went to the karaoke and welcome gala. I found myself alone again, wondering if I was going to meet anyone. I could not remember a time in my life when I felt so pathetic. About 30 minutes and some unknown number of used drink tickets later, I finally found my tribe.
I met some women that were so much fun. We danced. We drank. We laughed our asses off. We talked about our kids. We drank some more. We connected.
The following morning and the rest of the conference, I had my tribe to sit with for breakfast. We went to sessions together. We went to parties together. It was a blast. I made real connections with some really great people.
A year later, I stay in touch with my friends I met at BlogHer. Fortunately, some of them are coming back this year. One of my friends, had a baby today. Obviously, she is not coming. Congratulations, Jenn! For the ones I will miss, I know there will be some new friends that will join my tribe. As for the other friends, I look forward to seeing them next week!
I use the lessons I learned from BlogHer with my daughter now. She finished Kindergarten in June. There were many tears and heartaches. She would come home from school, with tear stained cheeks, and tell me about her day:
“Haley won’t play with me anymore. AND NOW, Elizabeth won’t play with me because Haley told her not to.”
It took everything I had to resist the urge to come into the classroom to defend my little girl. With the ethics and legality of it all, I took the high road and gave her the advice I wish I would have listened to before BlogHer.
If they do not want to be your friend, then they are not worth it. They are not nice people. There are no-so-nice people in this world and you are going to have to embrace it. It does not reflect your worth. It means they are jerks or clueless or have some other issue you might not even know about. There are jerks, clueless people, and people with issues. BlogHer/Kindergarten is not any different. Do not waste your time whining about it. Get over it and move on. This conference is what you make of it. If you look for the opportunities, you will find your tribe. There will be 3000+ women at BlogHer. You are bound to connect with one or two—maybe more!
My tips for finding your tribe:
1. Be nice! Be friendly! Don’t be a creep!
2. If someone else is being a jerk, leave them alone! Don’t pout about it! PLEASE DON’T BLOG ABOUT IT! LET IT GO!
3. Always sit at a table where you don’t know anyone. This will optimize your opportunity to meet your tribe.
4. Don’t force it! Be yourself!
5. Recognize that some people are more outgoing on the internet than they are in person. Give them a break! Be friendly and don’t take it personal.
6. You are going to see blogging celebrities. Give them a break. They may be trying to find their tribe too and you may or may not be a part of it. Don’t overwhelm them. Everyone gets exhausted at BlogHer. Sometimes people need their space.
7. Smile! Be happy and approachable. Make the most of every opportunity to meet everyone you can.
8. Go outside your comfort zone. Introduce yourself. Get yourself out there!
9. Start thinking about what you are going to tell people about your blog and who you are. You are going to be asked a million and one times. Don’t short sell yourself. Talk yourself up. If they go to your blog, they can decide for themselves, but don’t discourage them from going by talking your blog or yourself down.
10. For the love of God, go have fun! Don’t worry about the parties and the who’s who stuff. We are grown-ups here. No whining!
Some photos from BlogHer10:
Monica and I at the Martha Stewart party at Martha’s headquarters in Chelsea
Jenn had a baby today. As it turns out, she is also a Sigma Kappa. She is totally a part of my tribe.
Jenn and I at Sparklecorn
CheeseburgHer party photo booth. So fun!