How a Blogging Conference Can Help: Takeaways from New Media Expo 2013
This write up is by Jackie Beck of The Debt Myth.
I was lucky enough to receive a ticket from the awesome Philip Taylor to the NMX conference (formerly BlogWorld) in Vegas. I’d been to one other BlogWorld in the past (and of course to FinCon!) so while I wasn’t a completely newbie to blogging conferences, I was still getting my feet wet a little bit. I’m convinced now that blogging conferences can help you out in several ways. Here’s what I learned at NMX.
A Brief Recap
My time at the conference was a whirlwind of activity. In addition to taking tons of notes at some highly informative and inspiring sessions (among them: Pat Flynn’s, Dino Dogan’s, Jon Morrow’s, and Jaime Tardy’s) and doing a little sightseeing, I truly enjoyed attending several meetups.
I felt right at home among my fellow personal finance bloggers (along with a stray sword swallower + other interesting folks) at the Fincon meetup, talked for hours at the Internet Business Mastery meetup, and got to know some of the 100ish folks at the SPI Meetup. Best parts of the conference right there.
Personal finance is a pretty narrow niche, so it was great be exposed to a whole bunch of bloggers, podcasters, and web series producers with wide-ranging interests and projects at NMX. I learned about producing a web series, what it’s like to be a trial lawyer, and how to quickly create a video using still images.
When you branch out of your niche and comfort zone at a blogging conference, you learn to look at things in new ways. You may also meet folks who are doing some highly effective things in their niche that would work equally well in yours. So branching out is truly worthwhile. Part of branching out is, of course, making connections with people you haven’t met before.
It’s All About the Connections
While it can be lot less stressful to spend a conference hanging out mainly with people who you already know and like, remember that strengthening your bond with those folks isn’t the only reason to attend a conference. Take the time to meet new people too — both other content creators and those who might be there as a sponsor.
Unless I was in the midst of a hallway conversation (a great way to talk in more detail to someone you’ve met in a previous session or at a meetup) I made an effort to arrive early to the sessions I attended. Then I spent 5-10 minutes or so getting to know the people sitting around me. I love to hear what other folks are up to, and to see if there’s something that pops up in the conversation that I could help them with somehow or that I just plain want to know more about.
Have a Goal
It also pays to have a goal when you attend a conference. Don’t just wait to “see what happens”. My primary goal in attending is to meet other people. My secondary goal is to pick just one thing from the conference to implement.
Why one thing?
Well, you’re probably going to come away with a million ideas that you’re completely enthused about. So many ideas, in fact, that you may not know where to start. Overwhelmed does not equate to action, and you want to take action in order to improve your blog. So choose something ahead of time that you want to focus on.
Maybe it’s “learn to write better headlines” or “figure out how to create an editorial calendar”. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as you go into the conference with an idea of what you’re hoping to come away with. Chances are, you’ll find what you’re looking for — and then you’ll be able to put that one thing into action when you return.
Finally, follow up — both on the things you’ve learned (your action item) and with the people you’ve met. When I was a kid, my family had moved something like 14 times by the time I was in the 4th grade, and no, we weren’t in the military or on the run. I learned a valuable experience from those moves that applies to blogging conferences: when you’re actually interested in what someone’s doing, you’ve got to take responsibility for following up.
It’s not enough just to get their address and promise to write, because most people won’t. You have to actually do it. More than once. So get those cards and then send an email after you’ve had a chance to recover from the conference. Check out their projects, and either offer to do something specific that would help them out, or just go ahead and do it. Then follow up again later to see if anything builds from there.