***DISCLAIMER: I have been giving a discount on registration in exchange for writing 3 blogs on my experiences at the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC). This is the first of the 3 blogs. ***
My solo trip to Sacramento in late July will be to attend my 5th food blogging conference. I have learned a lot since my first conference in New Orleans. I wanted to pass on some advice to those who have never attended one or if this is your first conference.
- Take two suitcases. A small one in a larger one. Food conferences do not disappoint with the swag. The first year I had to leave a lot in my hotel room. One year I thought I brought a big enough suitcase but I di not and had to mail my swag home. Last year I wised up and brought a carry on bag in a medium sized suitcase. Packed my swag in the bigger bag that was checked for free and had my carry on filled with clothes and swag I did not want to pack. So I will do the same this year.
- Take lots of business cards. You hear this advise all the time so I will repeat it. You will hopefully make lots of contacts at the conference. My cards are pretty simple blog name, and social media icons that I am active. You can get great cards from Moo, Vistaprint and there are others. Pick a design you like or create your own. But bring a lot.
- Network, Network, Network. This is the hardest part of attending conferences. I consider myself a shy person so I find it hard to do that. One trick I do is to go over the list of attendees. Review the blogs and other social media and make notes of some of the bloggers or speakers I want to meet. And then, I go for it. Making my way to talk to bloggers. Remember you have something in common, food. GO for it and don’t be shy. I once bought a book on how to work a room and that didn’t workout. So skip the books and just mingle.
- If there are separate excursions, go on one. They are great for getting to know the area and a chance to learn new things, meet new people on a smaller scale and maybe for blog inspiration.
- Take notes. I always carry a moleskin and write down ideas during the sessions. I end up writing on the plane ride home.
- Take lots of pictures. It is all about the food so make sure you have plenty of space on your smart phone or camera. I used to take my DSLR and my smartphone but now I am all about the smartphone. There are lots of fun apps so down load a few or ask some of the attendees what they use.
- Have fun! Explore. Try a restaurant that you have read about, see the sights if time permits. I usually schedule a day to myself to explore and walk around.
- Keep it simple, at least with technology. I used to bring cameras, iPads, a computer and a smartphone. I have lightened the load and only bring my iPad and iPhone. I can write and upload photos from both of those devices. It saves me some time in the process.
I wanted to have 10 tips to share but I only came up with 8. I’m sure others can add to this.