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Preparing for BlogHer '11

It’s mid-summer, and that means this year’s conference season is in full swing. Me? I’ve already been to six blogging conferences so far in 2011, plan to attend two more, and turned down at least five others.

There’s a conference for every mom blogger now. Can’t attend a full weekend? Bloggy Boot Camp is only one day. Like the more luxury style of conference? Mom 2.0 is right for you. Want casual and laid back? Type-A Parent (ironically) conference is perfect. Want to be inspired? Then it’s Blissdom.

Opening Keynote at BlogHer 2010

But if you want to attend the biggest, most well known conference for women that blog? It’s the annual BlogHer conference, for sure. This year’s conference will be held in San Diego, and 3500 people are expected to attend. This is astounding; in 2008, the year I attended my first BlogHer conference, only 1,500 were in attendance and it already felt incredibly overwhelming.

So how do you prepare for this massive conference? Here are a five simple tips to get you through.

1. Don’t worry so much about what you’ll be wearing. People will far more interested in YOU than your clothes, even if your outfit is sponsored. Also, plan to walk and stand far more than you sit; wear shoes that won’t ruin your day if you stand in them for eight hours straight.

2. Don’t drink too much. Conferences are a blast, and often offer more free booze than they do free food. Plan to eat dinner before hitting the parties, and remember every single person at this conference has a smart phone with a camera. You do not want to wake up hung over with a bunch of photos you’d rather not have hitting your Twitter stream and Facebook page.

3. Make arrangements in advance to see your friends. It’s a big conference; you may not be able to just run into folks like you do at the smaller conferences. Take the time to make plans.

4. Bookmark the conference #hashtag on Twitter. It will move quickly during BlogHer, but following the stream lets you keep up with the sessions you aren’t in, find out where friends are, and know where to be and when.

5. Take time for yourself. I’ve found that I can easily hit conference overload. I try to sneak up to my room and simply zone out for at least an hour a day (I usually do this by watching an episode of Law & Order; don’t ask me why, but I find crime shows soothing). This prevents that feeling of being conferenced-out and being on people overload, particularly at BlogHer. You can find yourself networking for 15 hours straight at BlogHer; make sure you take a break.

Bonus Item: Try to remember that everyone attending the conference is a person, not just a blogger even the most well-known bloggers suffer from insecurity and social anxiety, and that brush off you think you just got might be a simple misunderstanding. In addition, sometimes what looks like a clique is really just a group of people that don’t get to see each other in person any other time of the year. Try not to take it personally.

Good luck! Enjoy the conference.

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