We all choose to attend blogging conferences for different reasons. Some come for the education, others for networking and meeting online friends “IRL”; others, well, we come to connect and build brand relationships.
Whether your blog is monetized with a source of income or with products, blogging conferences are one of the best opportunities you have to make new connections that can build into rewarding relationships in the future. But, if you think you can just show up, grab some swag and run, and then arrive home to an ambassadorship with your favorite brand, you have some learning to do!
To get a lead, you need to create the opportunity. You need to nurture a relationship and be present for the brand. The people that brands want to make connections with are the ones who actually care about their products and are a good fit with the brand’s image.
The preparations for a successful conference engaging with brands begin even before the conference begins. By being prepared, you can lower your stress and increase the chances of landing a brand partnership.
Prep While You Pack
Before you even walk in the door of a conference, relationships are being made, so to be sure that you are in on the “pre-event” conversation, add these items to your to-do/packing list:
- Follow the conference hashtag BEFORE the conference begins. Many brands and sponsors are already engaging on this hashtag. By joining the conversation and supporting your favorites, not only are you amplifying their message to other attendees, but you are also letting them know you are coming to the conference.
- Follow and List. Most conference handles have a “sponsor” list on Twitter. Be sure to follow the supporting brands and subscribe to the list. I also add my top 10 brands that I want to support to a “secret” list on Twitter so I can support ALL their messaging before an event and get on their radar even faster.
- Reach out. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a brand you love and already support to make a date to meet in person at an event. Take time out of your schedule to have a sit down with them, share a bit more about yourself, and see how you can support their messaging moving forward.
Quality Over Quantity
I am a true believer that not every brand is right for every blogger, and it does BOTH sides a disservice to try and make it work when it isn’t a good fit. When you are at a conference, it is more valuable for you to spend your time on quality connections vs. quantity. Don’t try and SEE EVERYONE and DO EVERYTHING, just focus on the doing the RIGHT things and meeting the RIGHT people.
Before heading to a conference, I make a list of my top 5 brands (or sometimes even my top 2). I spend time early on to see what they are doing on social media, how they work with bloggers, and ensure that our brands align and are a good fit.
During the conference, I make it a priority to spend my time not only connecting with those target brands in person, but also supporting their online messaging during the event. I tweet them out, I engage, I take photos and videos of their booth or set up, and, most importantly, I introduce them to other influencers with whom I think they should connect. By demonstrating that I truly am their brand advocate both in person and online, I am able to build a more authentic relationship with the brand, which will lay the foundation for continuing our relationship in the future.
Keep It Real, Make It Professional
There is always that ONE person at an office party who ends up dancing on the tables, or having it out with a “former friend” in the hallway. Add to that the blogger who “borrows” the display swag, or even the person sitting in the darkened corner for hours on her phone.
The best thing you can do for your business (and yes, it IS a business) is to be present and be professional.
Walk into a blogger conference as a business event; be respectful of the brands’ time and of their conversations with other bloggers. Support, assist, wear your brand proudly, and remember that a conference can be considered a multi-day job interview, so be sure to put your best foot forward, whatever you determine it to be.
Making the decision beforehand as to what you want from a conference will help you be prepared to achieve it. If you are going for networking and mini cupcakes, enjoy them with two hands. If you are there for business relationships, put the time and energy into making them successful.
Whatever your reasons, understand the amazing amounts of time, money, and energy that went into putting on this event. Support the event organizers, and give them your influence and amplification back in spades so that THEIR event experience is also a success.
As a blogger, publisher, and private consultant, Julie Nowell works on amazing projects all designed to support and nurture creativity, a positive lifestyle and viable business practices. A true believer of the win-win-win philosophy, Julie’s goals are to create rewarding opportunities that benefit all of those involved. As mom of 3 living an idyllic rural life on Salt Spring Island, Julie balances life, family and feeding the chickens.