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Conference Essentials

After attending my first blogging conference in a big city (NYC) I came up with a list of things to pack to make the experience that much better. These items don't only apply for blogging conferences. You can use these items for any type of conference you are attending.

  • Comfy shoes: I know you want to look fashionable and pretty thought out the conference, but if you are planning to do a lot of walking, especially if you are not staying at the conference hotel, having comfy shoes to put on is a must. I picked a pair that were light in weight, yet still comfy and fashionable.
  • Deodorant: Conferences make for a long day, especially when they fall in the summer. Having a good deodorant that works all day is highly recommended. I was glad I packed my Dove Advanced Care 48 Hour anti-perspirant. It kept me dry and smelling good even after running around NYC in 90 degree weather.
  •  Sunscreen: I am pretty white. If I don't wear sunscreen I end up looking like a good ol' fashioned Coca Cola can. It ain't pretty! I rubbed on some SPF 60 sunscreen and off I went. Even while sweating like there is no tomorrow, it stayed on and did the job. Remember, even if your conference is in the winter, you can still get sunburn! Be safe and pack it regardless. 
  • Collapsible Bag: You never know what kind of swag you are going to come across at a conference. Sometimes you are provided with plenty of bags, and sometimes you only have 1. I always carry a bag that can easily fit in my purse just in case. This also comes in handy if you are exploring the city and decide to buy a few souvenirs.
  • Business Cards: Always, always make sure you have business cards on you at a conference. You are going to be mingling with not only other bloggers (or others in your field if this is a work related conference) but sponsors and brands. You don't want to be caught off guard when someone asks for your card. Make sure to bring at least 250 just in case. 
  • Portable Power Charger: Guys can I say how much of a life saver this is? This day in age EVERYONE has a smartphone, so everyone is looking for a place to plug in. To help ease the panic mode when you phone goes into power saving mode, invest in a portable charger and save yourself some grief. You can charge right in your purse and have a totally charged phone in less than an hour. 
I hope this list was helpful for your next conference! What do you consider an essential? Share them with me in the comments!

*I received the Dove Advanced Care from Influenster free for review purposes. All opinions are my own.  
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BlogHer Conference Recap - Day 3

Day 3 (Check out Day 1 and Day 2)

I didn't feel as tired today when I woke up. I was however supposed to go do some early yoga and that didn't happen. I also decided missing breakfast wasn't the end of the world and I didn't have as big of an interest to that morning keynote, so I went in a little later. It was Saturday so there was no rush hour to worry about. I arrived at around 10:15 with just enough time to get me to a session I was interested in attending; You As a Brand: Brands on Bloggers.

This was an interesting panel. So much insight was given on what brands are looking for and what they avoid. I learned a lot about what I should be doing moving forward to help me connect with brands better. Very informative and glad I attended.

I had a lunch time private event with Good Health. I was really excited about this one because I am all about living a healthier life these days and any tips I can get works for me. I sat with some pretty great ladies and we laughed together as we all attempted some yoga in the crowded room. Lunch was pretty yummy and we sat and learned some food tips.

After lunch I headed to another session that was set up once again as a round table discussion. Building a Media Kit with Erin Baynham was one of the top sessions on my list to attend. It was apparently on top of lots of peoples lists because it was PACKED! I was lucky to have a seat close to Erin so I heard everything clearly but others got frustrated and I think next year this type of session needs to be in a bigger setting. I took a lot out of this session with all of the amazing ladies who spoke up and gave insight. I don't currently have a media kit but am working on one this week. I am excited to see what I can come up with and where it can take me. Do you have a media kit?

I ended my conference experience with one last visit to the Expo. In case you are wondering what the Expo is, it is a huge hall where all of the sponsors are set up ready to meet you. You have opportunities to hand out business cards, mingle with fellow bloggers, and sample new products. This is where most of your swag comes from. It can be really overwhelming.

Just a peak at some of the swag I went home with

I unfortunately did not attend the closing party. I really had every intention of doing so but had some insecurities about getting back to my cousins safely at that hour of the night. I ended up heading home and spending more time with my cousin and organizing everything for my trip home. I had a great experience and can't wait to attend more conferences in the future.

Stop back tomorrow to see some of my conference must haves when attending for the first time. These tips could also be helpful for your 100th conference.  I hope you enjoyed the journey with me this week. Now I want to hear about your experiences with conferences. Tell me all about your experiences in the comments!

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BlogHer Conference Recap - Day 2

Day 2 (Check out Day 1!)

Tired does not even begin to describe how I felt when I woke up. I sluggishly made my way to the city and barely made it to breakfast and the morning Keynote. The keynote was amazing with Anna Maria Chavez, Soledad O'Brien and Samantha Skey. I felt so moved and inspired by these ladies stories. I left the keynote feeling pumped as I headed to a private event with Sears Connection. This was a panel of ladies talking about all the new technology Sears has to offer as well as how we can use it in our everyday lives. One of the panelists was Randi Zuckerberg. She had so many great ideas about keeping families grounded in this techno world we live in. We all received a little goody bag along with Randi's book Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives. Looking forward to reading that!

After that amazing panel I ran to lunch where Gwyneth Paltrow was speaking. She spoke about Goop, parenting, her divorce, and dealing with criticism of being in the spotlight. She spoke so candidly and open. I really felt like she was just another blogger/business woman trying to make it in this crazy world. She laughed, she cried, and she inspired. Such a great person to bring into a conference for blogging. 

I felt like she had some pretty good advice on how to deal with life in the spotlight. Even as bloggers we may not be huge celebrities, but we are putting ourselves out there for criticism. Some days it is harder than others to deal with the real dangers that come along with public writing. I have said this before and I will say it again, not everyone will like you or your writing. Gwyneth spoke about how she deals with these issues and how they made her really look at herself. Some of the negativity that comes out of the criticism helps to shape yourself and work on things that may be your own insecurities. 

I left lunch feeling a lot better about some of the stuff going on in my life. It was a great way to remind myself to keep moving even in difficult times. I moved on to my first session since coming to the conference. I attended Humor Writing in 140 Characters and Beyond with Sarah Maizes. This was meant to be a round table discussion but quickly became pretty crowded where it became very hard to hear. I took a little out of this session, but I wish it would have been a little better organized.

Conference OOTD Day 2

After the session there was an Expo break. I used this time to visit with any of the vendors I hadn't already talked to. I had an opportunity to meet country music artist Billy Currington courtesy of Best Buy Wedding Registries.  I also sampled some Coca Cola Life. Tasted yummy to me! Quenched my thirst and got me ready for the Voices of the Year (VOTY) ceremony. It was so inspiring to see what people have been doing this year in the blogging community. They have been inspiring and helping people understand some tough times. Such an amazing ceremony. 

Immediately after the ceremony there was a champagne reception. I was starting to get tired and wanted to spend some time with my cousin, so I decided to head out a little early. I was smart today and did not get to much swag so the trip back to Penn Station went smoother. I was able to take the subway. Much quicker and cheaper than the cab ride. Unfortunately like I mentioned in yesterdays post, you must come prepared for everything. This includes all trains being temporarily suspended due to "police activity" at one of the stations you needed to pass through to get home. 

My idea of getting home earlier to my cousin was delayed and of course this was during rush hour on a Friday when EVERYONE wanted to just get home. It was hot, people were angry, and that just leads to chaos no matter how you look at it. Finally we learned 2 trains had side swiped eachother on the westbound tracks (I was headed eastbound) causing damage and derailment. After a good hour or so they opened the eastbound tracks allowing me and the hundreds of others to finally head home. Saying the train was crowded was an understatement! 

Day 2 Lessons Learned + Tips 
  • Go to bed at a normal time! Being exhausted especially when traveling is never fun.
  • Pack a water bottle. I was pretty thirsty at times and when the train was delayed and the stations were scorching hot, water would of been a good idea to have.
  • Don't forget your comfy shoes. I left with just my sandals and at times my feet were very angry at me!
  • Check news alerts before heading anywhere. I could of stayed at the conference enjoying some champagne while the train situation sorted itself out. 
I  hope you enjoyed Day 2! If you didn't see Day 1 you can recap that here---> Day 1! Also don't forget to come back tomorrow for Day 3!    

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BlogHer Conference Recap - Day 1

What happens when you decide you MUST go to a blogging conference 3 weeks before it happens? Well if you're like me you read every article and post you can find about the previous conferences as well as the one coming up. I jam packed myself with so much information about the BlogHer conferences it's no wonder people start to get anxious. I felt their pain.

When I decided to make the trip to NYC to attend, I also knew I was going to be traveling alone. No big deal right? I read all over the place that even if you attend alone, you will still feel super welcome and everyone is really friendly. I decided it would be okay and I would make due. To make that traveling alone thing even trickier I decided I needed to also save some money so I opted to stay with family on Long Island (about a 50 minute train ride to the city). This did not help my anxiety when it came to meeting new people.

Follow along with me this week as I recap my first ever blogger conference. I will be talking about my experience and offer up tips for newcomers. Everyone has a different experience so I hope one of you can relate to mine. 

Day 1

It was about 12:30pm when I arrived via a Coach bus into New York City. It was hot, sticky, and I had been awake since 5:30am with no coffee. Scary thought, I know. I was meeting my cousin whom I would be staying with for the time I was spending in NYC. Stepping out into the sunlight after emerging from Port Authority showed me the first lesson I learned about attending a conference and NOT staying at the hotel it was being offered at; if you bring bags, you kind of have to carry them with you from that point forward. Thankfully the Hilton where the conference was being held allowed me to "check my bags" for the day. Amen to the Hilton!

I was what I felt like a thousand pounds lighter and starving for lunch. We decided to head out in search of sustenance. Which actually meant I was in search for wine of course. We settled on the Olive Garden in Times Square. They had this pretty amazing deal on a wine flight for $9.00. For Manhattan that is pretty darn cheap. I also figured it would be a good idea to actually eat something so the endless salad and breadsticks sounded like a plan. It was nice to feel full and a little less sweaty. Going back out into the world seemed hard at this point though.

Lunch! I mean my drinks? ;)
We headed off to find the Coffee Bean cause when in Manhattan you can't pass up one of those yummy blended drinks they made. We strolled in during "happy hour" and got our drinks for half off. Not to shabby. It was nearing 4:30 and I still needed to officially check in and meet up a group of ladies for a drink. We headed to the hotel and I realized I really needed to change.

The current condition of my "travel" clothes (capri's and a t-shirt) were wrinkles and sweaty. Not exactly the first impression I wanted to make. Fast forward to me in the lobby bathroom changing my clothes and freshening up. I felt better and was ready to mingle. My cousin joined me for a bit and then headed off to meet up with a friend. I befriended a few ladies and we headed into the Expo together. The Expo was crawling with bloggers and brands. So much to do in so little time! I made my way from booth to booth, eventually losing my new conference buddies (not on purpose!).

I quickly caught on to the fact that I was going to be leaving with quite the swag and not much room for it. Oops! I wandered around a few times trying to avoid more swag that I didn't need and grabbed a glass of wine. There were wine and drink stations set up all through out the 2 floors. I had my picture taken with some sponsors and all in all had a fun experience. I briefly stopped up at the Multi-Culti party before exhaustion completely took over and I needed to call it a night.

My cousin was still in the city so after accessing the swag situation I decided there was no way to walk the 20 blocks to Penn Station or even try to get on a subway so I hailed a cab. After a pretty frightening cab ride I was reunited with K and on the train to Long Island. Whew! What a crazy first day!

Day 1 Lessons Learned + Tips!
  • Stay at the hotel the conference is being held at. This will save you lots of frustration.
  • Pack comfy shoes and be prepared to walk A LOT. 
  • Sunscreen! Needless to say I had a little redness after day 1's adventures.
  • Wear really good deodorant if you won't have time to shower. 
  • Be patient. Things can change quickly in a large city. Be prepared for anything.

I hope you enjoyed day 1! Please come back tomorrow for day 2 and more tips! Follow along all week as I talk about all things conference related!

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