Monday, November 8, 2010

Life Lessons Learned from Blogging Conferences

I promise I actually took pictures this week, you are just going to have to wait a little longer for them! I had so much fun this weekend and learned a lot about food and blogging at the Foodbuzz Festival, but the majority of what I learned applies so readily to life itself that I wanted to share:

  • Know Who You Are & Be Yourself
Part of going to a blogging conference is knowing how to answer the question, "What do you blog about?" I spent a considerable amount of time before leaving for the Festival thinking about how I would "define" myself this weekend. I found that they way I described my blog had a big effect on how people reacted to me as a person. I even had one blogger (who shall remain nameless) respond with, "Oh, there seems to be quite a few bloggers like you," with a little disdain in his voice, like there was something wrong with posting healthy recipes!

But the thing is, I'm not going to change the way I blog just to make readers happy, just like I'm not going change who I am as a person to make other people happy. I blog for me, not for anyone else. Otherwise, why bother?

  • Be Nice & Stay Positive
I tell my students this all the time. Just be nice! Smile, say hello, ask people about themselves, and at least pretend like you are having a good time. I was instantly drawn to the people who had big grins on their faces and were putting out positive energy, making an effort to get to know people, and in general having a great time. It was a busy and stressful weekend as far as socializing and networking were concerned, but it only comes around once a year so I felt like it was worth it to be positive and make the best of it, rather than complaining about the weather or being tired or having too many people to "have" to talk to.

  • Be Gracious
I don't pretend to have a million readers, but I really appreciate the readers that I have. When people told me this weekend that they read my blog and that they enjoy it, I said, "Thank you!" and then I made an effort to get to know those people in an authentic way. This was hard to do with 350 people in attendance at the Festival, but I can't tell you how many people whose blogs I read regularly were not gracious or even remotely interested in me when I introduced myself and told them how much I enjoy their blogs.

I don't feel like I'm doing anyone any favors by writing Running Foodie, so it bothers me when people act like I "owe" them some sort of special praise beyond, "I like your blog" when I meet them. I  expect them to at least attempt to engage me in conversation instead of just waiting for me to keep talking. After I get the introductions out of the way, I want to get to know them as a person, not continue to shower them with compliments. I don't consider anyone who was at Foodbuzz this weekend to be a blogging "celebrity," but I did feel like some people acted like they were and this really bummed me out.  The best way to ensure that I don't read your blog anymore is to not be nice when I meet you in person. :(

  • Take Risks
When I left for the Festival, I knew that I was not going to know a single person. This was terrifying! I am also not very good with big groups and prefer to get to know people one-on-one. Fortunately, I hooked up with Ally right away and then spent a huge chunk of Sunday with Teri exploring the city. I admit I had mini blog crushes on both of them and was nervous to meet them (what if we actually had nothing in common??), so I am so glad took a risk to meet up with them and get to know them. It was so rewarding and I feel like I made some friends that I will have for life!

Did you go to Foodbuzz? What were some lessons (life or blog-related) that you learned?

EDIT: I realized after rereading this post that I might be on the verge on sounding like a bit of a Negative Nancy, so let me assure you that I had SO MUCH FUN this weekend. I cannot remember laughing so hard, smiling so big, eating so much good food, and drinking so much good wine since my own wedding. I am already planning to attend in 2011. Thank you, Foodbuzz! I will wax poetic about the festival after I've gone through all my pictures and posted a formal recap later this week.