In just two days we will be gathering at the Four Seasons in Vancouver to learn, network and eat as much as humanly possible!
Are you ready?
I’ve been looking forward to this event, because it will be my first food blogging conference ever! I’m excited, anxious and nervous, but I’ve been doing my best to get ready as well.
This is pretty much the 11th hour, but if you’re not quite ready to go yet, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. I’ve been preparing for a couple weeks now (largely because I’m obsessive like that) and I’ve got a decent plan for getting the most out of this conference. Not like the last time…
See, the last time I went to a blogging conference, I was completely unprepared. It was my first conference of any kind, and I really had no idea what to expect. I bought the tickets, made a list of the sessions I wanted to attend, and then showed up with a pen and a small notebook. That was it.
Poor planning can result in having a poor experience. At least, that’s what happened to me.
I learned several things the hard way at that conference, and I want to save you the trouble. So here’s my strategy for making the best of FBC2014.
How I’m Preparing for the Conference:
- Read What To Wear, What To Bring and How To Prep on the FBC website.
- Upload the same profile photo to all of my social media platforms. This should be a picture that shows my face, so it’s easy for people to identify me at the conference.
- Tidy up my blog by removing any broken links or old posts that no longer match my brand. I want my peers to see my best work!
- Make sure I have up-to-date business cards ready to take with me.
- Figure out how I’m going to describe my blog to others. What is my elevator pitch? (I’m still trying to figure this out!)
- Read what the sessions are about, so I can think of what questions I need to get answered.
- Make a list of all the people and brands that I want to connect with (more on this in a minute).
- Connect with my roommate before I get there.
- Print out all of the important documents for the conference, including my hotel details and conference schedule.
What’s My Game Plan:
My biggest mistake at that other conference was that I tried to “wing it”. If this is what you’re planning on doing, you might be disappointed.
We’re only together for a few days, and time is going to fly by. You might only get one or two chances to speak to a brand representative or a popular blogger, and you want to make the most of it. The best way to maximize your time (and energy) is to make a plan.
For me, I know that this conference is going to be more work than play, so I’m planning accordingly. This means that I’ll need to be friendly, but professional. It also means that having a drink or two is ok, but having six is probably a bad idea.
I also have a list of people whom I want to connect with. For example, I really admire Tara O’Brady’s work, so she’s on my list of people whom I’d love to meet. I’d also like to have a conversation with Catherine Jheon from Shaw Media, because I’m pretty sure I know her from somewhere…
As for the brands, I know that some of them have products that I’d use or talk about on my blogs, and others don’t. So my plan is to politely chat with everyone, but also to make an effort to have meaningful conversations with a couple brands that I might want to work with in the future.
What I’m Bringing With Me:
I realized at the last conference that having a sturdy bag to tote my stuff around is a good idea. We’re going to be in sessions for a while, so it’s good to have what you need at your fingertips.
Here’s what I’ll most likely have in my bag:
- My cellphone, charger cable and external battery
- My point-and-shoot digital camera
- A large notebook and a few pens for taking notes
- My wallet, with my ID and Health Card (just in case)
- Hand sanitizer, because at least a few of us are going to get sick from the plane ride
- Tissues (see above)
- Pain killers, because nothing is worse than trying to listen to a presentation with a migraine
- Business cards, and something to put them into so I don’t crush them in my pocket
- A foldable bag in case I need to cart swag, flyers or anything else back to my room
- Band-Aids for blistered feet and paper cuts
- Mints, because no one wants to smell my post-coffee breath
- Cough drops, because I don’t want to be that person who has to cough through someone’s presentation.
Of course, I will be packing all of the usual stuff like toiletries, shoes and clothes, but here are a few other nice-to-have items.
- Peel-and-stick address labels: I get a ton of these in the mails when I donate to charities, and I hardly ever use them. If you’ve got some of these sitting around at home, bring them with you. Last time I used them on giveaway entry forms, but they’re handy in case you want to exchange mailing addresses with new friends.
- A plastic pouch: These are great for storing small items (i.e. business cards) that you don’t want to lose in your suitcase. You can get these at your local dollar store.
- Stain-remover pens, because if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up spilling red wine all over yourself.
- A re-fillable water bottle, because good hydration means you’re less likely to get a headache, and you’ll feel better overall.
I can’t wait to meet everyone at the conference! See you soon!
Shareba Abdul is a blogger and freelance writer. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Applied Arts in Media Studies, a Diploma in Journalism, and has a passion for writing, photography, and blogging. Shareba has worked on two cooking shows that aired on Food Network Canada, and has been known to (accidentally) set cookies on fire. You can check out her yummy discoveries at InSearchOfYummyness.com or connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and G+.