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Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Blogger Bash in New York City. I have been to a several blog conferences in the past but this was definitely the farthest I had traveled for one!
The two questions I have received since getting home was, “Is the conference worth it?” and “What brands did you meet and how are you following up?”
So, I thought I’d address both questions here and you can learn from my experience.
I’ll start by answering the first question: “Was Blogger Bash worth it?”
My answer, “Heck yes!” (Sorry, here in Utah we use that word a lot, ha ha!)
Blogger Bash is defnitely worth it, especially if you are a more established blogger. I would say that if you are new and have never attended a conference before, be sure to come prepared to network like crazy and never take a break! The conference is litereally packed and I was grateful for my previous experience at conferences because it helped me feel more confident. Be sure to bring plenty of business cards too. I went with about 50 of them and ran out by the end. That had never happened to me before!
I literally met and talked with about 60 brands in two days! My mind is still blown with all of the connections that I made and I’m still busy connecting with the ones I want to work with now that the conference is over.
Blogger Bash consisted of Sweet Suite, a night of meeting and seeing all of the newest and greatest toys on the market and their brands.
Babypalooza, a room packed with brands who are all about taking care of baby!
This was a diaper changing challenge sponsored by Boudreaux. I was a little slow at 17 seconds… I’m out of practice!
I also met Noah Galloway, best known for being a finalist on Dancing With the Stars. He was there with Armitron. Such a nice man and a true hero! I actually walked right past him initially, thinking, “Hmm, why does he look familiar?” It finally dawned on me a few booths later who he was and I went back to grab a picture.
And the Expo is where we met and connected with even more brands on everything from sunglasses to shoes to smartphones. Plus, they fit in some great key note speakers and sponsored meals including Peanuts, Care Bears, and Kate & Mim Mim.
I came home so excited and bursting to get connnecting with several brands!
Speaking of connecting post-conference, here are some things that have been helpful to me. I admit, I haven’t always been very good at following up but I’ve made it my goal this year to not let those connections go to waste.
So here are my tips for rocking your post-conference follow-up!
First, ORGANIZE! This has always been my downfall. I get home from a conference, throw my bags of swag and business cards on the floor, and say “I’ll get to that next week”.
But that never happens. Never! I’d either forget about it and or finally organize my contacts and business cards months later when the connections have cooled.
Not very smart, right?
This year, I implemented a different system. I have a book that I keep all of my contact information for brands in. I tape their business cards and any other information into the book and leave room for notes about when I contacted them and the result I received from that contact. It helps keep me organized and I can easily flip through the book, that I have organized by conference, and find the brand information I’m searching for. At one time, I did keep all of the business cards on a ring after punching them with a hole, but that didn’t help me keep track of my follow-up and their responses. The ring of business cards could easily be discarded or forgotten about but a big notebook on my bookshelf is easy to spot and hard to lose.
Second, PRIORITIZE. When you go to a conference, you generally come away with more contacts and connections than you need. For me, this meant that I was usually overwhelmed and wouldn’t do anything with them. When I get overwhelmed, I tend to shut down. So, especially with Blogger Bash, I now prioritize my contacts, starting with the brands I really want to work with. These are the ones that fit my blog the best and that I had good conversations with while at the conference.
Next, I organize the brands that would be good for a specific post or idea, or that I could contact for a future blogging activity. These brands generally fit my blog but I don’t feel a need to work with right away.
Finally, I find the brands that I spoke with but will probably never contact because they don’t fit what I do. However, I don’t get rid of their information. You never know when something may come up and you’ll be happy you kept their contact information!
Third, CONTACT. This is always the most stressful part for most bloggers, especially for me. Even though we are communicating through email, the thought of rejection can be a hard fear to overcome. But, if you don’t try, you may miss out on a huge opportunity. The worst thing that could happen is that brand says they aren’t interested or they don’t have the budget (that happens a lot too). And that’s okay, right? You move on to the next brand until you find that golden connection. I have had rejections and I’m still alive and blogging!
I sometimes struggle with what to say when contacting a brand and I’ve pieced together a template that you can use as well. It’s important to be sure and add any details you may remember from talking to brand rep and telling them how that would apply to your blog. You want the email to sound personal but not over the top. It needs to be straight to the point and short since most brands are sorting through a lot of information too.
I also received a tip at a conference a couple of years ago to make sure that your subject line stands out. This is what the brand sees first when they open their inbox so you want to capture their attention. I usually put mine subject in all caps and use the conference name so they know what it’s about.
Here’s an example email of the email I have been using: