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My Thoughts on #BlogHer12

It was my very first BlogHer conference, and I tried to approach it with zero hopes and expectations. I prepared by reading as many advice posts from fellow bloggers as I could.

I knew what to pack. I knew what to wear. I knew who to see. I knew which parties were the best. I knew everything you've ever wanted to know about BlogHer. I just didn't know if I wanted to go.

I had some party commitments for Thursday evening, but otherwise, I just wasn't sold.

And then I got a text from Chrissy. She wanted to know if I'd be there and could we hook up at some point...maybe even share a room.

It didn't take much to convince me. I was in!

I bought my conference ticket, booked a room, and packed my bags.

So, was it worth it? Here's what I thought.

1. It's all about the parties.
There are thousands of attendees, and only a small portion attend the educational sessions. So, where is everyone else? Why, they are at private events and parties, of course.

I was invited to attend a cocktail party hosted by Stonyfield Farm and Healthy Child Healthy World on Thursday evening. It was held at Rouge Tomate. All the food was organic and much of it was prepared with ingredients supplied by Stonyfield Farm.

Gigi, the CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, spoke about the many steps we can take to create healthy and chemical-free environments for our children. Her words were inspiring. I definitely left with renewed enthusiasm for ridding our home of chemicals.

In line with the fast pace of NYC, I left that party and walked straight to another one, the #SweetSuite hosted by The Big Toy Book. The Big Toy Book is THE authority on toys. If you want to know what is the hottest toy for girls or boys, head straight to The Big Toy Book.

The party was held at the Viacom Building. The views from the 7th floor were amazing!

But it was the views inside that were spectacular. Toys, toys, and more toys...as far as the eyes could see. My daughters would have been in their glory. Gymnast Dora. Make-Your-Own jewelry, and Blingles.

It seems that many attendees go for the parties and not for the actual conference itself. This was disappointing to learn. As a blogger, I was there to refine the art of blogging. But it appears that not everyone was there for the same reasons.

The follow morning, I returned to NYC in full BlogHer mode. I was ready to dive right in. My first stop was the registration desk. It was uneventful. I was given my badge and sent on my way. I headed into the Expo Hall first.

2. There are lots of opportunities to try products and receive samples and swag.
I had a chance to connect with some of my favorite brands including Jamba Juice, Verizon Wireless, Starbucks, Hershey's, Moo, and CVS Minute Clinic. I picked up so many samples from some of my favorite brands. I was introduced to some new ones too. I was warned to bring some extra totes to carry everything. As it turned out, I didn't need those extra totes after all. I accepted swag from only those brands with whom I have an intention of continuing a relationship or whose product I really wanted to try.

3. Choose your sessions carefully.
There's so much information available to attendees. Since sessions occur simultaneously, you must wisely pick and choose the sessions that you want attend. It's impossible to attend each session. Determine which are most important to you as a blogger and plan to attend those sessions.

I attended 2 sessions, one on working with brands and the other was utilizing Facebook and Twitter to promote my brand. Both of which were incredibly informative. However, they were both over-crowded (not sure if this is typical of BlogHer sessions). And there was a constant stream in and out of the room of attendees, which became very distracting.

The session that I attended on working with brands was so crowded that the spill over attendees were directed to another room where an audio feed was made available, but we couldn't see the panelists. I had a very difficult time listening to the panelists when I couldn't see them. I left the session early a bit frustrated.

For the afternoon session on Facebook and Twitter, I was smart and got to the room early. I had a seat that provided me with a perfect view of the panelists. Plus, I walked away with lots of notes.

The panelists in the sessions that I attended were knowledge experts who were appropriately selected. They seemed to genuinely complement each other.

4. You'll never get to see most of the bloggers in attendance.
I am not kidding when I say that I ran into the same people over and over again. There were some attendees whose paths I never crossed. If you go and have hopes to meet specific people, you need to have a plan in place to do so. You will NEVER run into someone by chance. EVER.

There was one blogger in particular that I planned to meet, Wendy Nielson. Wendy guest posted for me last October during breast cancer awareness month. We've tweeted with each other ever since. Wendy is a breast cancer survivor (Yay!!)  and an all-around fantastic woman. It was my goal to meet her.We did meet, but we certainly didn't spend enough time together.

5. Comfortable shoes are a must!
It sounds incredibly obvious, but as an attendee I was torn between looking good and feeling good. Since it was my first time attending BlogHer, I wasn't sure how much time I'd spend standing versus sitting. I settled on a pair of stylish yet flat sandals. They were perfect after all as I spent much of the day on my feet.

6. Expect little down time.
You will leave the conference EXHAUSTED. There's very little time in between sessions, and although there are breaks built into the schedule, they pass quickly. If you attend off-site parties, there's even less time in between events.

7. You will have fun!
If you walk away with nothing else, you will surely walk away with a few good stories to tell. BlogHer is known for its parties. Every evening, BlogHer hosts a party for conference attendees. These parties are guaranteed to give you and your blogging buddies something to talk about the next morning.

Overall Impressions

Was it worth it?
After all the hemming and hawing that I did, I have to say that I am so glad that I went. I left with all my expectations either met or exceeded.

Would I attend another BlogHer?
When it comes back to NYC, I will definitely be there. I'm not sure if I'll attend next year in Chicago. Certainly cost is a factor for me...unless I secure a sponsor. This year's costs were so low. This trip cost me about $350-$400 including my conference ticket, food, and train costs. I used reward points for the hotel room in order to keep my costs low.

Stay tuned! BlogHer13 will be here before you know it.

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