Close
Close

15 Tips for Getting the Most out of Blog World Expo

Blog World Expo (aff) is approaching and I’m getting really excited about heading to Vegas for the third year running to do some teaching, meet some amazing bloggers, and learn from some of the best in the business.

Last week, while on a Ustream Live Chat, I was bombarded with questions by first-time BWE attendees who wanted to know how to get the most out of the conference. I thought it might be helpful to jot down a few tips for the first-time BWE attendees among us.

1. Create a Twitter list of people going to BWE

I did this earlier in the year for SXSW and it was very helpful. Simply identify people in your current network—and out of it—who are going to BWE, and compile them into a Twitter list (it need not be public).

The benefit of doing this is two-fold:

  • You’ll be able to get to know people who will be attending before you get there. Perhaps this is just something that appeals to me as a shy guy, but having some sort of connection with people before you rock up does make the real-life interactions you’ll have a lot easier.
  • You’ll be able to find people a little more easily once you’re there. There are times where BWE can be a little overwhelming: hundreds of faces, and no idea where to go or what to do. Being able to dip into your Twitter list at these moments can help you get a sense of where your people are and what they’re doing.

Your Twitter list is also handy after the event, to keep in touch with those you meet. If you do this, make sure you add @problogger which is the ID I’ll be tweeting under at BWE this year.

2. Follow the #bwe10 hashtag

This has similar benefits to the point above. Dipping into this tweet stream gives you a snapshot of what’s going on at any moment of BWE, but in the lead-up, it also gives you a sense of who else is going—perhaps you’ll want to get to know them before you get there.

3. Take your business cards

It might seem a little strange that people going to a conference that’s focused on virtual relationships would still use business cards, but they do.

You need not spend a fortune on business cards. Even a simple business card with your contact details gives you something to hand to those you meet. If it leads to just one fruitful relationship at the conference, the expense of having them printed could easily be covered.

If you’re feeling creative, try a card that’s a little different. As I look back on the last few conferences I’ve been to, it’s often those with creative cards that stand out to me. I’m not sure whether it’s just me, but a card that makes me look twice usually helps to cement an interaction in my mind.

Having said that, one of the cards I remember from last year was a photocopied card with a guy’s story and photo on it. It was very low-budget and basic, but the story made me laugh and got my attention.

Oh, and try to include Twitter (or other relevant social media) handles on your card. Also get in the habit of following people as soon as you can after meeting them. I generally go through cards at the end of the night and do a mass follow of those I meet to reinforce the relationships.

4. Consider why you’re attending

Blog World is many things for many different people. Some attend to network, some to learn, some to build their profile, some to be seen, some to show off a product…

Think about why you’re attending before you get there. What are your goals for the event?

Time flies at BWE, so knowing what your goals are will shape the way you use your time. Not being clear on your goals could mean that you go home having achieved little.

Your goals will lead you to attend certain teaching sessions. They could help you to identify which people you want to meet, and what meetups and events you’ll want to hang out at.

If you goal is to go to BWE to learn something, come up with a list of things you want to discover before you go. I did this two years back, and it helped me to find sessions that were relevant to me, and gave me good questions to ask in those sessions. It also helped me in conversations to learn from others there.

5. Think about how you’ll introduce yourself

This one comes from the “shy guy” tip archive. Something that has always helped me at these kinds of events is to do a little thinking about how I’ll introduce myself. How will I take that opportunity that often comes at the start of a conversation when people ask what I do?

Some might call it an elevator pitch, but having a sense of what you want to communicate to people before you even get to BWE can be helpful. As a blogger, it may be that you want to get word out about your blog, for instance. Having a sentence or two that explains what your blog is, and what problem it solves, could be useful.

6. Organize your first meetup

This is another shy-guy technique that I’ve used a lot over the years. The anxiety of showing up at an event like this and not knowing anyone can really get to some people. What I learned is that if I tee up a couple of face-to-face catch-ups early in the conference, I more quickly find myself getting involved in the event.

So take your research into who else is attending, and attempt to hook up for a quick coffee with someone that you want to meet on the first day. You might even come clean with them and tell them that you don’t know anyone and would love to meet them.

If there’s a group of people in a niche that know each other online, but have never met, you might try to organize a group meetup on the first morning. In doing so you could just become the “go-to” person in the group.

I find that if I get organized like this before I go, I’m much more likely to find people to hang out with for the rest of the conference.

7. Choose some sessions to attend

I hate to admit this, but last year at BWE I found it very hard to get to sessions because I was rushed off my feet speaking and meeting with people. However the year before I got a lot more out of the teaching, because I put some time aside to organize the session side of things before I went. The BWE scheduler lets you create a personal schedule pretty quickly. Use it.

Keep in mind that some sessions are quite heavily focused on the beginner. So you might want to try to assess the level of each session before you go, and consider going to sessions on topics that you know nothing about. Sometimes it’s the off-topic sessions that are the most interesting.

Don’t forget that this year I’m running a full day of ProBlogger training (with Chris Garrett) on the Thursday of BWE. If you’re coming please do mark it on your schedule to let us know you’ll be there.

8. Decide how to capture it

Two years ago I left home for BWE with a very heavy bag of gear: a DSLR, extra lens, flash, backup compact digital camera, iPhone, video camera, laptop, notebook (plus all the chargers for all the devices)… I had dreams of taking loads of photos and video that I could use on my blog when I got home.

I could also barely walk.

The reality was that I used little of the gear.

I can’t tell you what to bring, but would suggest that you try to pack light and think carefully about what you need. It’ll depend a little on your goals and workflow, but you’ll probably need something to write with, something to take pictures with, and, if you use video, something basic to record that.

BWE is a great place to create content. There are so many people from so many niches that it’s great to do interviews with people and tweet or blog live. But if you’re like me, you may find that you don’t use half of the gear you bring.

9. Preschedule your blog with content

The great thing about Blog World is that while you’re there you’re going to be connecting with a lot of other bloggers. You’ll talk about your blog and people will want to check it out.

I know one blogger last year who told me that they got their biggest days of traffic while at BWE because those attending would visit it and were linking up to it.

As a result, it’s an opportune time to have some good, fresh content up on your blog. So don’t just let your blog sit dormant while you’re at BWE—try to have a few posts scheduled to publish.

Also try to stay active on Twitter while you’re there. Lots of BWE attendees tweet during the event and it’s a great way to reinforce your relationships with people.

10. Dress for comfort

I often get asked, “What should I wear to BWE?” I remember asking it myself—and stressing about it quite a bit, too. On reflection, I don’t really remember what anyone was wearing. My only real impression was that it was pretty relaxed.

As I look back on some of the photos I took, I see there was a wide range of levels of dress. A few people dressed up, but most people were pretty casual.

I’d probably suggest throwing in something a little smarter for the evening parties, but unless you’re speaking or have a booth you can probably get away with jeans and a T-shirt or a simple shirt. I tend to stick with jeans and a button-up shirt and have never felt out of place.

If still in doubt on what to wear, head to Flickr and do a search for BlogWorld or BWE09 to see what others are wearing.

11. Create a list of action items

One of the problems with attending conferences is that you can learn some amazing things in both sessions and conversation, but then go home and do nothing. It can be a lot of fun and very informing, but unless it impacts what you do, it’s kind of empty.

As a result I recommend that you take some time out each day (or at numerous times during the day) to create a list of action items that you’re going to work through when you get home.

Last year, I created this list on my iPhone, and three or four times per day would jot down points that really hit me as I listened to other people—ideas that I wanted to put in place for myself.

Items included the people I wanted to follow up on, posts I wanted to write, tweaks to my designs, topics I wanted to learn more about, and so on.

At the end of the conference I went through the list, prioritized it, and got the tasks done.

12. Be present

A challenge that many people find at social media events is to actually be present at them. We spend all this time and money getting to the events, but then spend a lot of our time on Twitter, creating videos, live blogging… In the end, we don’t really stop and just be an attendee.

As a result, we can miss a lot of the good stuff that’s said in sessions. We can also be so distracted that our conversations don’t go to the depth that they could, so we don’t make the connections with those around us that we should.

13. Mix big groups, small groups, one-on-one, and me time

Mix up the type of interactions you have at Blog World.

At BWE, there are some great bigger gatherings. The keynote sessions and parties can be quite inspiring, although some do find them overwhelming, as you realize that you’re a part of a movement that’s bigger than yourself—something I find it’s good to be reminded of as a guy who spends most of his time alone typing on his computer!

However, if you only spend time in the big groups at BWE, you could be missing out on the opportunities to connect a little deeper in smaller group interactions.

Earlier in the year I had one fantastic afternoon and evening where I had almost the perfect mix of interactions:

  • it all started with a nap in my room (as an introvert, I need my cave time).
  • Then I caught up with a group of ten bloggers in someone’s house for a few drinks and some relaxed chatting about life, blogging, and the niches we were in.
  • Dinner was with a group of about 25 people—it was more of a networking opportunity.
  • After dinner we attended one of the big big parties that happens at SXSW. I met loads of people but didn’t really get too deep with anyone.

I got home that night and felt it’d be a great combination of activities—there were lots of opportunities for deeper conversations and relationship building, and while the party wasn’t overly relational, it was good to get around and meet lots of people. I was even able to catch up with some of them again the next day.

I know some people prefer to only do the small group thing, while others are more drawn to the big events, but I find a combination of both (with some me time to keep me sane) helps me achieve the most.

Also keep in mind that while the sessions at BWE can be great, a lot of the networking happens in the corridors between sessions, on the Expo Floor, in the Blogger room, and in the evenings at parties.

14. Get out of your comfort zone

Let me finish with one last piece of advice: make the most of the few days you have at BWE and get a little out of your comfort zone.

BWE is an awesome opportunity on many fronts. Where else in the world are you sharing an experience with thousands of online publishers and influencers?

The potential that relationships and learnings from BWE can open up for you is quite massive, so whether you’re a natural conference goer or not, resolve to make the most of the time you have there, and get out and meet as many people as you can.

I’ve always found people to be very approachable at BWE. Speakers aren’t whisked away at the end of sessions, and most don’t mind being stopped in the hall to chat. Even better than that, some of the most interesting people are probably sitting next to you in sessions.

They might not all have big names or be Internet celebrities, but among your fellow attendees are some amazing people who you could learn a lot from, and who you may end up having a fruitful relationships and friendship with.

So push yourself a little this BWE to meet some people who you might not meet unless you bite the bullet and say hi to somebody new!

15. Take tips from fellow BWE attendees

Lets finish with some tips from your fellow attendees—some people you might want to put on your BWE twitter list. I asked on Twitter a few days back what tips my followers would give for BWE and here are some of the responses:

Don’t try and meet everyone. Find the people you connect with and get to know them well!—@CatherineCaine

Ooh, and plan beforehand on how you’re going to use the info and business cards you get!—@CatherineCaine

Based on ur objectives, create a plan of action for the 3 days like which sessions/events to attend & who to meet—@rabeidoh

Have an idea of what you want to do ahead of time but mostly, have fun & don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to new people—@LaraKulpa

stay out of conference room. mingle in the streets. seek out the conversation destinations. that’s where the real talk happens—@SimplyOptimal

if waffling between going to a panel or connecting 1:1 with someone, go for the personal connection. Better long term—@ahockley

my tip for #bwe10 is to make your own crowd—@tedmurphy

Have specific objectives b4 you arrive. Network, network, network. Follow up with a personal note when you return home—@altmarketing

carry your phone charger with you AT ALL TIMES! (If you can, an extra charger) It’s good for you & you’ll make new friends.—@Ribeezie

I’m really looking forward to Blog World Expo this year and hope to catch up with you there. If you’re still not booked in, grab your ticket today. If you’re coming, please do drop by one of my sessions and/or the ProBlogger booth on the exhibitor floor, where I’ll be spending more time this year!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Well, I am certainly not going to attend it but still a good read.

  2. Mike says:

    This post was EXACTLY what I was looking for. The right post at the right time Darren! Thanks, I was getting a bit worried about how my first Blogworld would go. I think the most important thing for me, is to create an ongoing action list for items to work on at home! I’m going there to Network with the “big-wigs” so a list of the most exclusive parties would have also been nice! Thanks again Darren, for reading my mind!

  3. Eamon says:

    Hey Darren,

    Another good read and very interesting points. Well for myself, I won’t make it but I’m sure plenty will, so if they’re reading this post they’ll learn a lot.

    Hope you’ve got your notepads out guys, this guy can learn you a lot…

    Eamon.

  4. Kim Ong says:

    Your post is really relevant, I used the above method at your problogger event and extended my Twitter audience to a specific social-media-loving group which was what I was looking for. Absolutely spot on with the above event, not just for BWE but for social media functions in general.

  5. Awesome post!. My big plan is to get organised for 2011 and get to the main events, at least 6 is the plan!…

    I’ve finally hit 10,000 confirmed email subscribers which is a mile stone for my site. I’m looking into building a downloadable product and maybe some merchandise for the “Candy Fans”…

    Hope to see you there next year!,

    :]

  6. This post is very helpful as I was starting to get a bit stressed out about being properly prepared for the event. Thanks I will be using this as guidance for my approach plan.

    Once tip I would add is to also be sure to schedule in some pure fun. I’ve learned this helps any conference I attend and Vegas makes it easy.

    The plan for #bwe10 is for my wife and I to renew our vows at a Vegas wedding chapel complete with Elvis. And to make it a fun #bwe10 event we really want a room full of “wedding crashers” from the conference. I’ll be inviting folks the whole time. Want to come find me on Twitter @DaryleDickens

    Should be a blast.

  7. very informative post which I really enjoyed reading! First that I have heard about this particular event, so thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  8. Erin Hill says:

    I’m not going to BWE(kind of jealous, but kind of glad – I’m not ready and would be very nervous I suspect), but will be going to another conference the weekend after that in Austin, so thanks for the super helpful tips. Thanks especially for #11 -I’m the kind of person that if I don’t physically write things down, I’ll think I’ll remember, and then never will and forget EVERYTHING I learned. Excellent advice that I will be using. Have fun! Vegas really is one of my favorite places – you can go to Paris, New York, Egypt, and Venice all in one night! Craziness…

  9. Lol, I’ve already got my BWE10 list and you’re on it. It’s a bit thin on the ground as I’ve only just started it but am hoping to add more before it starts and even more when I get there:)

    Love to read this, not I don’t feel so guilty about wishing I could have some siesta time. With the time diff from Australia I think I’ll need it!

    See you all in Vegas;)

  10. Wow great…….very nice……thanks for this valuable informations….
    This post is very obliging as I was preliminary to get a bit worried out about being appropriately equipped for the event. Thanks I will be using this as direction for my move toward plan…..

  11. Sameena says:

    wow…beautiful tips again…am learning lotsa new things from you!!Thanx

  12. Great post! Cannot make it this year but have definitely decided to put it in the diary for next year.

    Simon

  13. Wow, wish I could attend this show as I am new to this blogging thing. Good info here, I will continue to read, thanks.

    http://www.brianshannonphotography.com/

  14. Awesome stuff! Thanks for sharing…as a 1st time attendee I really want to get an “ROI” from my time and you have given me a lot of tips and solid advice at an extremely appropriate time. Looking forward to meeting you at your booth!

  15. How I can increase follower’s list?

  16. Ossy says:

    Good one Derren! I was looking for such a wonderful post
    God Bless you bro

  17. jeff says:

    I was unaware of this particular conference, but you’ve got a nice preparation list nonetheless. Thanks for the post and keep up the good work.

  18. Thanks for the tips. Such a wonderful post :D

  19. This is first time we have heard about it. It seems that this expo is an important affair. We will really look forward to hear more about it from you.

  20. Himanshu says:

    hey i didn’t knew about any such event. May plan next time to attend it. will waiting for next post about the expo.

  21. Awesome tips! I won’t be attending this year, but I will try to keep these in mind for next year. Oh, who am I kidding..I won’t remember.

  22. Josanne says:

    Your posts make blogging look so easy-I really enjoy your down to earth approach-it is especially helpful to us newbies, or at least to us who are trying to further our blogging. Thanks for another great bit of information!

  23. Kamal Hasa says:

    Vegas hmmm too far away from where I am :P

  24. Michael says:

    Thanks I will be using this as guidance for my approach plan. This is first time we have heard about it. It seems that this expo is an important affair.
    I’ll waiting for next post about the expo.

  25. Sachin says:

    Thanks for the tips ..i have to attend one here locally in a near future

  26. Seems like great advice. I’m sure that some time I’ll be able to attend.

  27. Wow. Darren, you are really a genius. And you provide the best tips, I ever found. Write more & more please…

  28. Chris says:

    These are all great tips and ones that will help get your blog some strong publicity. I’ve been slacking on my blogging efforts as of late, but some of these ideas have got me motivated again!

  29. Josh says:

    Good post, with some useful suggestions.

    Darren,I would like to suggest having a ProBlogger table or group of tables at the Mandalay Buffet, one of the better Vegas buffets. This would allow many members of the “Problogger Community” to meet and share an informal meal.

  30. Great tips I have only just started blogging wish I could attend the conference. The list is very helpful

  31. Andrew says:

    Great tips for going to the expo even though I will be not attending this one. Will take those tips for the future.

  32. Farnoosh says:

    Darren, I am going to use my new iPAD to take notes and maybe record some sessions! I am leaving my laptop behind – but I may just have to carry my Canon 50D! These are excellent super tips and gosh it would make my day if I meet you, Darren Rouse! :) Thank you for coming to #BWE!!!

  33. Blog World sounds like such a great conference! I do like the tips about meeting some people beforehand so that it won’t feel so big once you’re there.

    I relate it to college. I went to a college that had 40,000 students. At first it felt overwhelming. But once you get settled in with people in your dorms, people in your classes, or old friends, it doesn’t feel like such a big place.

  34. Conveyancer says:

    I am currently looking into implementing a blog onto my website. Maybe after this expo I will get around putting one on my website.

    Thanks Darren for the strategies!

  35. Kate says:

    Wish I could be at BWE. I’d love to hear you speak. You have the most organized mind and your tips are simply fantastic. I’ll be following the action on Twitter. Have a great time and break a leg!

  36. You’re awesome Darren, I only wish I could go to Blog World Expo :-(

    There’s a lot to think about, hope you have fun.

    /Daniel

  37. Chris Hagen says:

    You are very genius, no doubt with that. Can u ever visit our country (Bangladesh), and make a seminar about blogging? Bangladeshi people wants to earn online. In our country, you will see your thousands of fans. Please visit us. We want to hear ur voice :)

  38. Ann says:

    Great round up thanks

  39. I just simply love your writing. I wish I could go to the blog world expo :) Please keep on writing.

  40. Would love to attend something like this event. Now I am making a fulltime living off the Internet I made the decision to move to the peace and quiet.
    Now firmly planted in the Pyrenees, but I think I have kind of shot myself in the foot. To far to travel anywhere now.

    Andy B

  41. Jerry says:

    Great article.

    It is so difficult for beginners to fully realize the impact of attending these types of meetings.

    Whether one does attend or does not, this article is sound advice for beginners and old pros.

    Thanks for the post.

  42. Hope i can make it to the next BWE Darren, heard you had some killer mini presentations as well.

    Dwight Anthony
    Financially Elite Blog dot Com

  43. i wish i could attend this event , that is too far away from here !! loll but you just have fun, may Be one day …… hah

  44. Open Cobra says:

    Cool! Missed this for Blogworld but I’ll use it for Pubcon.

  45. Carolin says:

    If only i could go to the blog world expo! I am learning a lot here, thank you :)

  46. Bernice says:

    Wish I could attend but unfortunately can’t hear you speak, maybe next year though :) Awesome tips, i’ve been reading your blog for ages and can see that you are VERY organized in all steps that you take. Simply amazing.

  47. dan says:

    Great Blog – makes we want to go to BWE. When is it?

  48. slimgamer says:

    All good tips that can apply to just about any expo visit. Thanks!

  49. This post will obviously help us to get the best from the Blogging Expo….And I find the post idea very unique. I have read many blogs accross, but this one is really helpful. And I think I will get the most from my blog (www.productivehobbies.blogspot.com).

  50. Brent says:

    Do you think these expos are good for everyone or for establish marketers / bloggers?