Here we are, four weeks out from Blog World Expo in Los Angeles starting November 3rd. Is it too early to start getting ready? Some would probably say yes, but I don’t think so. Last year I wrote a post about getting ready for your first BWE, and since I now have a little BWE experience, I thought I would revisit that list and highlight the main items of importance.
1. Get your business cards ready.
I don’t care who you are or what you do. Even if you only have a Twitter handle and a blog on WordPress.com (I would advise going on a self-hosted domain with WordPress, but that’s for another post), you can still have a business card – and should. You’re going to be networking with so many people, and you’ll want to connect with them and vice versa after the conference, right? Then having a business card to hand out is the best way to go.
It doesn’t have to be the traditional business style with a phone number, street address, and what not. Just think of the information you want people to have about you when they get home from the event. That could include your name, blog URL, email address, Twitter handle, Facebook fan page, Skype handle, etc. So you don’t have to get too personal if you don’t want to, but you can give people something to walk a way with and remember you by.
My suggestion would be to go with Moo Cards (aff link). I’ve used VistaPrint in the past, but just tried out a batch for my photography cards and they came out beautifully. If you’re a photographer, it’s the perfect company to go with because they let you have up to 50 different designs on the backs of your cards to display your creative side. I used the recycled stock paper for mine, but you can also choose a matte laminate with square or rounded corners.
So is it too early to order business cards? Absolutely not. If it’s your first time, you might want to try out one pack of your designs before committing to several boxes worth of cards, especially if you’re trying different designs on the backs as some will come out better than others. Plus, you want to order early enough so you don’t have to pay for rush printing and shipping which almost always doubles the cost.
2. Plan to see the sessions, but be open to missing them.
I would say the most important sessions to attend are the ones where you actually want to see or meet the business speaker. Then, of course, there are the sessions you’re interested in for educational value. But why should you be open to missing them? For networking purposes, of course! I met some great people (including but not limited to Farnoosh from Prolific Living, Cindy from Social Media Examiner, Neal from Windmill Networking, Naomi from SMM for Real Estate Professionals, Sid from Personal Development Training, Srini from Skool of Life, and Amy from Savvy Sexy Social) and had some of the best discussions during meals, in the exhibit hall, and other various locations while skipping out of the planned agenda of keynotes and sessions. Those are the moments you’ll remember best – the sessions you can probably pick up a recording of after the conference.
3. Get your contacts organized.
Want to meet specific people at an event? Be sure to get their Twitter handles somewhere you can find them easily, such as a Twitter list. This way you can tweet at them while you’re there and try to catch up. This is assuming you don’t have a more direct method of contact such as cell numbers to text or email – if so, put those in a special text doc, email, or some other file that you can access on the go.
Also, if you have more than one Twitter handle, keep an eye on the mentions and direct messages for all of them – someone may be trying to catch up with you the same way! Same goes for keeping an eye on your email, Facebook messages and wall posts, LinkedIn inbox, or other networks you are active on. There’s nothing worse than getting home and realizing you missed out on catching up with someone!
4. Dress to impress.
If you’re like me, you’re a huge introvert who might be a bit intimidated about meeting people offline. I know I was the first time I went, and still feel a bit shaky even now. But trust me on this – one thing that will make you feel more confident is having a great outfit. I don’t mean it has to be something designer or name brand (although Neil just wrote a great article about the ROI of fashion). But something that conveys your professionalism, personality, and overall makes you feel good. So if you don’t have three – four outfits that do this for you, start shopping now. Also be sure to have some good party wear as Blog World is known for its offsite after parties as well!
5. Update your blog and social profiles.
Has it been while since you updated your about page, your Twitter bio, or your other social profiles? Then now is the time to start poking around and sprucing up your online presence – most importantly anything listed on the previously mentioned business card and anything that comes up on the first page of results when you search your name on Google. (Yes, I Googled some people after the fact, especially if I had to jot their name down because they didn’t have a business card.) After the whirlwind of the conference is over, people will be visiting your blog and your profiles, so you will want to make sure that what you want to represent is written in each and every one of those places.
It’s a good idea, especially for bloggers, to have some posts or pages that highlight the best of your content right off the bat for new visitors as many of the people who will be checking you out will be new people you met during the event. During Blog World last year, I put up two posts with 25 top articles on my own blog as well as 25 top articles I had written for others recently. This year I’ll probably do the same with my writing around the web series plus something highlighting best posts of 2011 here.
Also, and most importantly, be sure to update your profile and about page photo. Last year I made the mistake of having a profile picture that showed me with long, curly hair, so when I showed up at Blog World with shorter, straight hair, some people were a bit confused and didn’t recognize me off the bat. This year, my hair will be a pinch longer than my current photo, but otherwise easily recognizable. The key is recognizable – if your photo is from 10 years ago or airbrushed beyond belief, then it will not help people match their real life connection with its online counterpart.
Your Conference Prep Tips
Now it’s your turn. What are your top tips for getting ready for Blog World or any other major conference? Be sure to leave them in the comments below. And if you haven’t registered for Blog World, it’s not too late – use KIKOLANI20 for an extra 20% off any pass type!