It's here! Well, it's almost here. FBC2015 is upon us and we couldn't be more excited to have the 3rd annual conference in Montreal! It's going to be a weekend full of learning, eating well and having fun!
Whether it's your very first conference of any kind, your first food blogging conference or you consider yourself a seasoned conference veteran, this post will have you covered on what to bring, what to wear and how to prepare.
Put Yourself Out There
Your nervous and it's ok to admit it. We can guarantee you that everyone there will be a little anxious. It doesn't matter if it's your first or 10th conference. It's exciting but a bit nerve-racking. The good news...everyone feels the same way!
It's human nature and you're not alone. Have a read-through the recap posts from FBC2013 and 2014. There are always nerves. The good news is we are ready to help you with that. Friday night dinner is assigned seating. We've done it two years in a row and it's always been very well received!
To get the most out of anything in life, you have to put something in. Think about what you want to get out of this conference.
- What has been holding you back lately?
- Are you there to learn?
- Are you there to network with other bloggers and make new friends?
- Are you there to make face-to-face brand contacts?
- Are you there to eat a lot of great food?
- Are you hoping to visit parts of the city?
- some of the above? all of the above?
All those things are totally doable - you just need to prepare and, possibly, give yourself a little pep talk!
Research your fellow attendees - they're all listed on the Eventbrite conference page. Know who's going to be there and think about who you'd like to talk to. Check out their blogs and their social media profiles (we have a twitter list of all attendees including bloggers, brands and speakers to make it easy to tweet to your fellow attendees). Feel free to introduce yourself on social media and let them know you're looking forward to connecting!
What To Expect Weather-wise in Montreal in Late October:
Well, last weekend it was rainy, snowy and sunny all in the span of 2 hours! This time of year, it's typical Canadian Fall-weather. It's crisp and definitely calls for a cozy scarf and jacket. You will be in the hotel for the majority of the weekend but you will also have some time to explore outside as well. Before you pack up your suitcase, we recommend checking the forecast and pack appropriately. If we had to guess, it will be sunny and a wee bit cold.
What To Bring:
What's the Swag Situation this year?
Good question! The swag this year includes two cookbooks, snacks, some handy kitchen tools and a few other goodies. There is also one 118ml jar of ketchup which unfortunately is 18ml too big for your carry-on. The swag bag itself is a good size and will be perfect for your grocery-shopping needs when you get home.
In theory, you could fit everything in your carry-on since you're also going to have the swag bag as your "second" bag BUT that depends on how much of your suitcase includes clothes, shoes, boots, etc. If your carry-on suitcase is FULL on your way to Montreal, it's very unlikely you'll be able to fit everything on your way back. The swag will squeeze into the swag bag, but it'll be heavy.
AND, there will be some giveaways over the course of the weekend which is great if you win, but it will add some extra bulk to your suitcase!
If you don't want any stress, our recommendation is to bring a larger suitcase so you have lots of room for your swag and also allows you some extra space if you sneak in some Montreal shopping 😉
Other things to bring or consider bringing:
- business cards - yes, you read that right! You will be meeting a lot of new people - make it easy for them to remember and find you after you go home
- laptop, tablet, phone, pen, paper - whatever you need to take notes and tweet and instagram. You will have wifi in your rooms and wifi where the sessions and meals are taking place
- don't forget your CHARGERS for all those devices!!
- stretchy pants and comfy shoes (trust us)
- a smile - nothing puts a person who is nervous more at ease than being greeted by a big welcoming smile
**NOTE: if you are attending Andrew Scrivani's pre-conference photography workshop, please ensure you have something to shoot with, DSLR, Point & Shoot or phone. If you want to bring your tripod, go for it! If you would like to bring a small fold-up reflector, by all means. Wear comfy shoes and clothing - you will be on your feet and moving for four hours.
What Not To Bring
- an attitude - we will have an ego check at the door!
After feedback from last years conference, we've decided to offer a networking session (think speed-dating) on Sunday afternoon. You should come prepared with business cards, media kit (if you have) and your pitch to put your best foot forward. The goal is to make some connections and learn about how to best work together down the road.
The majority of our sponsors will be in attendance and we have carved out time slots from 1-3pm. When people check-in and register on Friday, they'll be permitted to sign-up for two slots which will allow everyone a chance to fill it out during the registration period from 2-6pm. Those attendees that are here all weekend but arriving after the registration period, we will make sure you also have the chance to sign up Friday evening or Saturday. Attendees that have bought a Sunday day pass will be able to sign up when they arrive on Sunday.
Once Sunday attendees have the chance to fill in their times, attendees can fill in the other time slots.
How To Get There
If you are flying in to Montreal, the easiest way to get to the Westin Montreal is by taxi. The address is 270 St-Antoine Street West, but just tell the driver the Westin Montreal (near Old Montreal). There is also a transit shuttle bus that leaves the airport every 15 minutes. However, it doesn't drop off directly at the hotel and is best for those that have a familiarity with Montreal, especially if you have luggage.
For those driving to the conference, valet parking is available $20/day or $32/overnight.
What To Wear
We're a casual bunch so wear what you feel most comfortable in. During the day, comfy shoes, casual pants and a sweatshirt will serve you well.
For Friday's cocktail reception and our two dinners, you can get as jazzy as you'd like. We have two 3-course dinners planned with wonderful entertainment to accompany both meals.
For the rest of the conference, wear what makes you comfortable - and remember, there will be a lot of food and a lot of picture taking. Layered clothing is always a good choice.
A Word on Pre-Conference Nerves And How To Deal With Them
Pre-conference nerves are so completely normal. Everyone will have them. Remembering that is key! Also remember... every single one of you have at least two things in common: you're bloggers and you love food.
If you're taking a pre-con workshop with Andrew, say hi to the people sitting next to you. You'll have the chance to make friends before 150 other people show up! Always easier to make friends and bond in a smaller group setting.
If you bought a double occupancy ticket you'll be making a new friend with a roommate and you have a built in date to the cocktail reception!
Put a smile on your face and introduce yourself to somebody new. If you see somebody standing nervously on their own, go say hello! They're probably just wishing somebody would come talk to them.
Don't be intimidated by brands - they're there specifically to meet you so say hi. A great ice breaker is to thank them for being a sponsor - we couldn't put on FBC2015 without their help! A bunch of them will have stations during the cocktail reception. They are there to feed you and chat with you!
If you're an established blogger - introduce yourself to a newer blogger - you'll make their day!
Say hi to one of our volunteers: Sondi Bruner, Heather Dow-Mitchell, Christina Austin, Shauna Adeland and Ariel Tarr will be FBC ambassadors and helpers all weekend long and are there to make you feel at home. And Beth Dunham will be our conference photographer so don't forget to say cheese 🙂
If you're attending and you already have lots of friends that are there as well, break away from the crowd and introduce yourself to some new people. Don't pay all this money to hang out with people you already see regularly. (hint - we will be making this very easy for you all on Friday night so bring your extrovert card to dinner!)
Please say hi and introduce yourself to Melissa and myself. And please don't be nervous to say hi because we've heard that for two years in a row! We might have to run off quickly to handle something, but maybe not! Stick out your hand, give us a hug (we hug back), tell us who you are since we might not remember your face from a tiny avatar photo but there's a 99.9% chance we'll know exactly who you are 😉
We want to meet all of you too! We may not be able to chat for as long as we'd like, but at the end of the conference, we want to know we said "HI" to everyone!