Next week, thousands of women {and a few lucky men} will be heading to Chicago for the mecca of blogging conferences, BlogHer ’13. Last year was my first go round with the frenzy that is BlogHer. I was excited. I was scared. I was overwhelmed. It was worth it.

This year, I thought I would enlist the help of some BlogHer veterans to share some of their conference advice and help the newbies feel a little less overwhelmed. Don’t worry, no matter how well you prepare, you will be overwhelmed. We all are! From the expo hall to setting up a networking lunch to swag {oh the swag!} to picking good roommates, here is some great advice surviving BlogHer ’13.

Tips for Surviving BlogHer ’13

tips for surviving blogher 13

BlogHer Tip #1: Be Yourself

Shannon of Sweet Stella’s reminds us to just be ourselves.

Be who you are. There is no point going to a conference like this pretending to be someone who you are not just to fit the mold of what you think a certain brand is looking for. You’d be surprised at how appealing authenticity is!

It is so easy to get caught up in the “what to wear” and “will anybody like me?”  and “I must stop at every booth in the Expo Hall” that you may actually lose yourself in the process. These are your people. They will like you whether you are wearing the latest trend or your every day yoga pants.

BlogHer Tip #2: It’s Ok to be Overwhelmed

Shaun of Living with Peanut has got it right! It’s ok to be overwhelmed. No matter how well you plan, your plans will be shot to hell in a minute.

It’s ok to be overwhelmed! I had all these plans for BlogHer12. Sessions I wanted to be in, schedules for when I’d visit the Expo Hall, do the tourist-thing.etc. I fell away from that. I got caught up in the Expo Hall, being in a big city, meeting all these bloggers I was in awe of.

It’s ok to be overwhelmed. It’s ok to miss something. If the opportunity presents itself, take it. The Expo Hall will be open but perhaps that rep you’re working with, building a relationship with won’t be there. The session may only be presented once, or it might be the only time that a certain person will be available to listen to, talk to.

Take your day in stride. Don’t beat yourself up. Enjoy this life-changing experience.

BlogHer Tip #3: Don’t forget to eat!

I am not kidding you on this one. Your day will go by so fast that you may actually forget to eat. Mindi of Simply Stavish suggests hitting lunch early.

Get to lunch early. The lines are super ling and the good seats full up fast.

It is also not a bad idea to save those granola bars you scored at the Expo Hall. Pack one in your bag for a mid-morning, mid-afternoon, 1 am snack! Honestly? They are one of the best swag items to grab! Another great way to make sure you eat? Have a networking lunch with new bloggers that you have met. Or catch up with old friends! Everyone needs to eat, why not get a little work done as well?

BlogHer Tip #4: Wear comfortable shoes!

Another great piece of advice from Mindi! Pack at least one pair of comfortable shoes since you will be on your feet a lot. From running to events to walking the huge Expo Hall, your feet will thank you if you are wearing comfortable shoes. I know, I know, you want to look cute. But you won’t be looking cute when you are hobbling around the next day!

BlogHer Tip #5: Don’t Be a Swag Hag!

No one likes a hag. And a swag hag? It’s the worst kind. Erica from No Sleep til College explains.

Don’t be a swag hag. Seriously. It’s not becoming. Get over yourself. You’re never going to need all of those Jimmy Dean sausage USB drives.

Rachee of Say it Rah-shay agrees.

Don’t worry about swag. Make connections with people and don’t get too concerned with things.

BlogHer Tip #6: You Get What You Put into It

Isn’t that the truth with most things? Lisa of A Day in Our Shoes says you need to make sure you have the right mindset before heading to the conference.

You will get out of BlogHer what you put into it. If you are going with the mindset of swag and parties, that is what you will come home with. If you go into it with the mindset of networking, learning, making connections with brands and making an impression on them–that is what you will come home with. BlogHer has both the reputation of being a giant party and a conference full of good opportunities–which one you leave with is up to you.

BlogHer Tip #7: Be Open

Hillary of My Scraps advice to you is to be open to the possibilities.

Be open . . . it may not be what you expect {for better or worse}, so be open to the possibilities. The possibilities of new friends, new ideas, new contacts. . .

BlogHer Tip #8: Do What is Right for You

Newbie BlogHer goer but conference vet, Heather of Terrell Family Fun, wants you to remember to do what is best for you.

I’m a newbie this year as this is my first year going to BlogHer but I have been to other large conferences. I find that you just have to make sure you do what YOU want to do with your time and not get lost in the shuffle. If you want to go to a different session than all your buddies, go! If you want to leave a party, leave! Do what will make you happy and make the most out of your time!

BlogHer Tip #9: Don’t Get Wrapped Up in the Hype

I’ll admit it. This was one of my biggest mistakes last year. The invites were too hard to pass up, but like Trina from O’Boy! Organic, points out, it can cause a lot of aggravation.

Don’t get caught up in the whole private party thing, not worth the aggravation.

Instead of being upset that you didn’t get invited to the most exclusive party, make some connections yourself! Set up a networking lunch with a brand you have worked with before. Take the initiative to make the connections for yourself. Don’t wait for someone to do it for you. Sponsorship opportunities may happen because you put yourself out there by asking for a networking lunch, not because you showed up to a party that a hundred other bloggers went to as well.

BlogHer Tip #10: Pick Your Roommates Wisely

I had amazing roommates last year, Kelly and Melinda. We were all on the same page and I may or may not have peed my pants a little from all the laughing. Trina agrees.

I also think that it’s great to room with someone and have a few close friends to hang with because BlogHer can become very overwhelming.

Picking good roommates may help you get into a great networking lunch or meet a rep that fits your “brand.” I also learned a lot from my roommates. I watched them work that Expo Hall floor and picked up a thing or two {or three}.

Are you a BlogHer vet? What is your #1 piece of advice you would give to a BlogHer newbie?

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