Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Finally, the Conference Itself

When I was a young mother I was a La Leche League Leader. I facilitated group meetings for women who were nursing their babies. I also was a District Manager, coordinating other LLL Leaders in a certain geographic area, making sure they had all the resources and support they needed. Once a year I ran an all day workshop where we would have a variety of sessions and discussion topics and occasionally a guest speaker. I worked on those workshops for months ahead of time, and we are only talking about a group of maybe twenty women. From finding a venue to planning the food to arranging the agenda, it took enormous concentration and organization.

I also was a speaker several times at the annual state LLL conference. Additionally, I have attended dozens of conferences throughout my professional career. So I have a good idea of what is involved in planning something like this. That is why I have nothing but admiration for the BlogHer team for the job they did in putting this conference together. Sure, there were a lot of attendees. Sure it was crowded. That is the curse of success. But it is distressing to hear the complaints: too crowded, lines too long, poor content. You truly have no idea how good we had it and how bad it could have been.

Finding a venue is the first hurdle. The Hilton New York is not the most glamorous hotel in New York City, but it is experienced, competent and LARGE. Ticks all the boxes right away. Most importantly, all those factors keep the cost down.

The content is decided by input from past and future attendees, so if it does not meet our needs, it is our own fault. Deciding on topics and finding credentialed speakers is another hurdle. It is hard enough to get private citizens to speak at your conference (“Where is it again? When is it again? You want me to speak on what? I don’t know, I really don’t like to speak in public.), but to get mega-stars like Martha Stewart and Katie Coric, not to mention the President of the United States? Phenomenal.

The vendors also help keep the costs down by subsidizing the conference. Yeah, there is a lot of silly junk, but that Jimmy Dean display may have shaved $25 off the cost of your ticket. And we did get to meet the Sun!


Haynes Brook, AKA the Jimmy Dean Sun/Photo by images.mitrasites.com


In addition to the above, here are just a few more of the ways this conference gave me value for my money:

• Speed dating after the opening session Friday morning. The noise level was deafening, but I met several nice women and got at least 15 business cards before I decided I couldn’t scream at anyone anymore and left.
• Parties every night with a variety of themes. Even though they weren’t my thing, the opportunity was there.
• Sessions on optimization strategies, writing, tech issues, branding, monetizing, dealing with personal issues, legalities, you name it.
• The potential to give everyone I encountered my business card, 5000 times over.

Sure, that last one wasn’t practical or even possible, but still the exposure to other bloggers was invaluable.

I am so grateful to the founders of BlogHer for all their hard work and their commitment to the power of women bloggers. The online world has changed dramatically in just the seven years since they started and they, we, are a force to be reckoned with.


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24 comments:

  1. What a nice compliment to BlogHer. It sounds as if, on a whole, you had a good time.
    PS -- I'm still jealous!
    Peace,
    Muff

    ReplyDelete
  2. So, all said and done, BlogHer and the Hilton came through for you. WooHoo! Glad that you felt it was all worth the effort.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Muffie - I did have a good time, it was exactly what I expected. These were, for the most part, volunteers and non-professionals who put this together and spoke on the panels. Taking that into consideration they did a really competent job. There are lots of complaints out there, but you cannot make 5000 people all happy.

    Webster - it definitely was worth the effort. Realistically, I don't know if I will be able to do another conference, so I am happy I got to this one.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for your comment - great to hear from you. Glad you had a good time at Blogher - my daughter attended and really enjoyed it as well.

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