In my former career at a Fortune 500 company, I attended many professional development conferences. Because of the nature of the business, most of the attendees were men. We networked, learned, had fun, and nobody cared.
At some of the more popular conferences, vendors would hold elaborate parties that would draw hundreds of attendees. The booze was free, the food was plentiful, and the entertainment was top-notch. It was a nice way to blow-off some steam and enjoy some downtime with my colleagues.
In addition to the sanctioned parties, there were several unsanctioned parties. It was quite common for me to receive an invitation to a strip club or an all-night bar-hopping excursion (BTW – I always declined these). I also witnessed several guys’ cheating on their wives, misusing company funds, starting fights, and even getting arrested. No big deal. Boys will be boys right?
No major news organizations ran stories titled, “Dads Attend Business Conferences and Leave Their Families Behind – The Horror” or chronicled any of the boorish behavior. But when women organize and attend conferences that are focused on their interests, people become suspicious.
“The Wall Street Journal” published a story titled, “The Mommy Business Trip: Conferences Appeal to Women With a Guilt-Free, Child-Free Reason to Leave Home.” As I read the story, I was offended by the way they characterized “Mommy Bloggers.” Not only was the portrayal condescending, but it also minimized the importance of blogging conferences.
In 2008, when I started my blog, Mocha Dad, I wasn’t seeking to build a business. I simply wanted to share my thoughts on fatherhood. However, it didn’t take long before like-minded people started finding my site. We read each other’s blogs, commented on posts, and offered support and encouragement. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was developing lifelong friendships with people who only existed on my computer screen. I attended my first BlogHer conference in 2010 and it was an amazing experience. Those tiny avatars magically transformed into real life people who I could touch (but not in a creepy way), share a meal with, and talk to face-to-face. Since then, I’ve attended several more conferences and each time, I’m blessed with the opportunity to meet and interact with more of my imaginary friends. In addition, I’ve learned valuable skills to help improve my writing, networking, and entrepreneurial acumen.
Blogging is no different from any other professional endeavor. Anyone who serious about their blogging career attends conferences. Despite the common misconceptions, blogging conferences are not huge slumber parties where everyone sits around in pajamas drinking wine and doing each other’s nails. I’m constantly amazed by the quality of the content and the professionalism of the attendees. Last year at Blogalicious, I attended a session titled “From Free to Fee” and was able to apply the information to my business. As a result, I’ve doubled the size of my business in less than a year. Many of the women who attend blogging conferences have similar stories.
I’ve been inspired and motivated by the business and community minded women that I’ve met at conferences. They are great bloggers, business people and moms. They love their children and husbands and are not seeking an excuse to get away from them. They feel guilt about being away from their families just as I do. Leaving my wife and kids at home for several days has always been a tremendous sacrifice, but we’ve endured it because we believe that the benefits outweigh the costs. Attending a conference doesn’t minimize my love for my family, nor does it excuse me from being a dad. My duties as a parent continue whether I’m at home or in a conference room 1000 miles away. The moms who attend conference feel the same way.
I’ll admit that we do party and have fun. But when it’s time to conduct business, I’ve never seen a more dedicated group of entrepreneurs than “mommy bloggers” or as I refer to them – my colleagues.
photo by thesaint via stock.xchng
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