Mar 20, 2012 In-Person Networking
One of the blogs I’ve frequented for years now is Post Secret. People mail their secrets on postcards to the site’s owner, Frank Warren, who uploads the best ones once a week. They range from funny to sappy, but one this past week stuck with me.
The sender lamented that he or she had waited years to hear Frank speak, but unfortunately now that he would be coming to the area, the sender would spend the entire night in bed because of a crippling anxiety disorder. Later, the sender wrote into the site:
“As soon as I put the postcard in the mailbox, I made a promise to myself that I would be there. I cried a lot and I didn’t say a word to anyone, but it was nice to feel included just the same. A step in the right direction.”
Something I’ve not hidden is that I have mild social anxiety. Nothing that I would call “crippling,” but I often find myself making decisions to stay home when the better choice is go somewhere public. Networking events, parties, and even running errands like going to the grocery store make me uncomfortable.
But I still do those things. I push myself to be social, to meet people who are interesting even when I’d rather be at home, to make choices that will help my career even if it makes me nervous and wishing I was home in bed. Sometimes I freak out. Sometimes I cry. But as often as I can, I put a smile on my face and get out there. Most of the time, people have no idea that I’d rather be hiding in the closet.
What I’ve learned in the past few years, especially since beginning my work with BlogWorld, is that many people in the new media world have social anxiety or are at least introverted or shy. Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, regularly hides in bathrooms, even when she’s the guest of honor at an event. Chris Garrett has talked about how shy he is an how inadequate he feels next to co-author Darren Rowse. Other awesome bloggers have told their own tales of being shy.
But some bloggers are using it as an excuse to not be the best blogger then can be.
Make a vow to yourself: it stops today.
You can blame the social anxiety, saying it is the reason you didn’t attend BlogWorld or South by Southwest or whatever event you missed, but best honest. What is the real reason? Were you afraid of failing? Were you afraid that you’d be alone and not meet anyone who’d be interested in talking to you? Were you afraid that you wouldn’t see a return on the money you have to invest to attend a large event?
The reason why some bloggers like Jenny and Chris are awesome bloggers despite being shy or dealing with anxiety is that they don’t use it as an excuse. They buck up and do what they have to do. Those of us who deal with these feelings…we aren’t always successful. Some days, my anxiety wins. But I try my best, always. I don’t write things off and tell myself, “I can’t do that because I’ll be too anxious.” I try.
Are you trying too?
- TED2012: Post Secret – Frank Warren (boingboing.net)
- Of conferences and anxiety disorders (thebloggess.com)
- An Introvert Blogging in an Extrovert World (rebekahmadrid.wordpress.com)
Feb 9, 2012 In-Person Networking
In just a few short months, I’ll be heading to New York with thousands of other bloggers for BlogWorld Expo. Perhaps I’m a bit biased since I work for BlogWorld, but I personally think this is the BEST new media conference out there, bar none.
And I hope you’ll join me there.
This year, some of my favorite speakers will be sharing their knowledge at the show. Only a handful have been announced so far, but you’ll be able to go to sessions with Dave Murray, Jason Falls, Chris Ducker, Lynette Young, Ali Luke, Jenna Langer, Amy Porterfield, Kelby Carr, Mitch Canter, and more. Seriously, these are some of the smartest people in this industry, so you’re getting your money’s worth.
Speaking of money…
This year, BlogWorld tickets are the more affordable they’ve ever been. You can get a three day pass to the show or a virtual ticket if you can’t attend in person for just $147 if you order by 2/22! You can also get an expo-only ticket for less than $40, so it’s a STEAL.
Even after the early-bird pricing deadline, tickets are super inexpensive for this show, plus you can meet me if you attend!
You can find out more about BlogWorld here. To be fully transparent, this link is an affiliate link, but I would not be recommending this event 9or working for the organizers) if I didn’t believe this was one of the best conferences in the entire world!
Feb 6, 2012 In-Person Networking
My vagina must be either lazy or stupid because it never logs into WordPress to publish a blog post. It never uses Facebook and doesn’t have a Twitter account. And my vagina certainly never records videos for YouTube.
I didn’t know that others’ genitals were avid bloggers, but they must be. After all, why else would some people be upset about the gender of speakers at blogging conferences?
Full disclosure for those you who do not know: I work for BlogWorld, one of the biggest new media conferences out there. This post isn’t about a problem specific to that event, though. Every time we near a professional event in the new media space, feminazis come out the play, claiming that it isn’t fair that the male to female speaker ratio isn’t a perfect 50-50.
And they aren’t the only ones. Others are crying that there aren’t enough ethic speakers. Or there aren’t enough foreign speakers. Or there aren’t enough younger/older speakers. Or…
Let me start by saying that I wholly believe all conference organizes should do their part to ensure people from all walks of life are speakers. Being female and relatively young give me different experiences and perspectives. This is true about people of different races, religions, educational levels, cultures…everything that makes us different from other people can potentially make us a better speaker. And taking it a step farther, if a conference turns you down because the organizers are sexist, racist, or an other type of -ist, they’re scum.
Oh come on, you knew there would be a but.
But to pick someone as a speaker just to fill some kind of imposed “quote” is foolish. It makes a conference less valuable to everyone who attends.
When I go to a conference, I want the best speakers. I want speakers who can teach me new things or show me a new way of looking at the world. What you have between your legs doesn’t matter to me any more than you hair color matters to me.
The fact of the matter is, conferences have limited space for speakers. When organizers focus on hitting certain quotas (like including speakers of a certain gender or race), that means other qualified speakers are rejected. If everyone misses out on awesome information just because a speaker is male and there already are other males speaking, I’m going to be disappointed. Being a good speaker has nothing to do with your birth characteristics.
In a perfect world, speakers would be able to be picked blindly – without names/pictures/etc attached, conference organizers would only see the presentation idea. Of course this can’t work because speakers have to be researched. It’s not just about the idea – you have to prove experience, ability to promote your session, etc. But it makes me sad to think that gender, race, age, and other characteristics come into play at all.
The social media world is still dominated by white males. Does that mean only white males make good speakers in this industry? Absolutely not. But if you want to learn from the best, you have to go with who has experience in many cases, so it makes sense that a larger percentage of speakers are white males.
Furthermore, you have to go with the applications you receive. Conference organizers do have an obligation to hunt down some new speakers, in my opinion. But you can only do so much. You can’t make people apply to speak at your event. You can only invite them.
Think about it this way: Let’s say you own a company and need to hire ten people. You get 100 applications and 99 of them are from men. The one woman who applied is okay, but there are several men who would be better at the job than her. Is it your responsibility to hire her anyway, and to also go out and find four more females to fill positions so the ratio is 50-50, even though you already have several qualified people who want the job but just happen to be lacking a vagina?
Diversity is a good thing, and a woman can bring a fresh perspective to your team just because she has different life experiences. But at some point, you have to draw a line.
At the heart of the matter, this is just another form of discrimination. When you demand that a conference had more female speakers, just for the sake of having more female speakers, you’re discriminating again all the men who deserve to talk at the event. The same is true for all characteristics. We don’t need more black speakers or gay speakers or young speakers or whatever. We need more good speakers.
Until your vagina starts running a blog, I don’t think you should get a speaking gig because of it. Personally, I blog with my brain, so that’s how I’d like to be judged when applying for speaking gigs.
- 27 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Public Speaking (blogworld.com)
- Elements That Decide Which Conference You Choose To Attend (stateofsearch.com)
- Why So Many “Experts” Are Terrible Speakers: Top 5 Public Speaking Mistakes (forbes.com)
Jan 11, 2012 In-Person Networking
I’ve been working on a pretty big video project for BlogWorld Expo. Yesterday, I had the *fun* task of contacting people to ask for their help reading the script. I put asterisks around the word fun because I wanted to show that it’s dripping with sarcasm. In reality, it should probably be ********fun******** because one of the things I hate most is emailing or calling people and asking for favors. It’s a step up from a sales job. Yuck.
I had to email both people I knew personally and some big names in my industry who I don’t know personally. I think I was more nervous to email my friends and acquaintances, believe it or not.
But you know what? Most people said yes. Cue music. “I get byyyyyyyyy with a little heeeeeelp from my friennnnnnds…”
I absolutely hate when people talk about leveraging their relationships. It’s one thing to make money from your readers and customers. It’s another thing to build a friendship with someone simply because you want them to do something for you. I’m always nervous that people will think that’s my game. It’s not – I promise!
Being part of BlogWorld, I see it all the time. In person, it’s super awkward. You see someone pestering an a-lister, who is probably polite, even though they don’t know this nut job fan…and then part-way through the conversation, just when the a-lister in question begins to let down their guard, actually think “Hey, this might be someone I want to get to know,” they get hit below the belt.
Come check out my blog where I write posts that are basically rewrites of the same topics you write. I would love for you to tweet my link even though you’ve never read it because I swear it’s good for your followers. You should be an affiliate of my shitty ebook that no one wants. I’m going to email you about potential JV projects every other day for the next three months, okay?!?! LIKE ME! DO STUFF FOR ME!
If the entire reason you’re friends with someone is that they can help you somehow, news flash: the two of you are not really friends and you’re probably an asshole.
People are willing to help me because (I hope) they know that’s not what it’s about for me. When I need a favor, there’s no pressure for them to say yes to maintain our friendship. If they say no, for whatever reason, we’re still cool. And oddly enough, I think that makes people more likely to say yes.
If your relationship with another person is all about how you can help one another, that’s fine. Just don’t pretend it’s something else. Do some mutual back-scratching, and move on.
I say it all the time: Be good to the people in your life. Care about them, love them, and stay in touch with them, even if they can’t help you. Like people because you like them, not because you can leverage your relationship. When you stop worrying about your own end game and just focus on getting to know people, you’ll be surprised just how awesome your life becomes, both personally and professionally.
- 25 Essential Conference Networking Tips (kommein.com)
- Please Don’t Engage Me (blogzombies.com)
- Dude, Shut Your Effing Social Media Mouth. (technosailor.com)
Dec 5, 2011 In-Person Networking
It’s that time of year again; time to drink eggnog with long-lost relatives, make small talk with other spouses at your partner’s office holiday party, and exchange cookies and conversation with your neighbors. Personally, I love the holidays (I’m actually one of those freaks who doesn’t mind that they start playing Christmas music earlier and earlier every year). That said, there is one part of this time of year I always find frustrating: talking about my job.
I think I’m spoiled. Most of my days are spent on Twitter and other social media sites, and frankly, you guys get it. Even if we don’t agree, you understand my passion for blogging and new media. A few times a year, I even get to travel to BlogWorld and geek out with y’all in real life. It’s fantastic.
My parents? They still have dial up. My grandfather’s never seen a single page on the Internet and very few of my other family members even have Facebook profiles, let alone understand what a tweet is. Even among my friends, social media and blogging are only marginally understood. I don’t blame them. This isn’t their passion.
What’s frustrating is not their lack of understanding about my industry, but the way their glances seem to suggest that my job isn’t valid. It’s getting better, but still, when I meet someone new, you can kind of see it in their eyes. They can’t possibly fathom how I’d ever make money online, so I must be 1) doing something illegal or at least shady or 2) barely scraping by or living on credit cards. Cue Allison pulling out her hair.
I used to avoid conversations about work, but what I’ve found is that the more people hear me talk about it, the more curious they become…and as they ask questions, suddenly, my industry is legitimized in their mind. And that’s fantastic. So, here’s my advice about talking to people about your job if they have no concept of making money online:
- Speak up when someone says something offensive.
People don’t know that they are offending you if you walk away without saying anything. I had one friend who would often talk about how pointless Facebook is and how people who spend time on it must be boring, unintelligent people. After hearing this again and again, I finally spoke up, saying, “You know, you might not like Facebook, but there are a lot of people who do. If your customers are there, you’d be foolish not to be there as well, from a business perspective. And from a personal perspective, I think it’s pretty cool that I can share my life with friends who would otherwise probably not be in my life. It doesn’t make you stupid to use social media.” The conversation in the room then turned to how I use social media and some really cool things businesses are doing with it. Later, my friend apologized and while he’s still not on Facebook, I think I opened his eyes to why some people do like the platform.
- Don’t generalize.
When people asked me about my job, I used to generalize, saying stuff like, “I’m a freelance writer, mostly for website owners.” That is what I do, but it doesn’t really teach the other person anything about what I really do. If you want people to stop using the term “blog” in a derogatory way, stop avoiding the word. Now, I say, “I’m a freelance writer, and most of what I do is blogging. I also do marketing online with social media, email, search engines, and so forth.” This usually leads to a longer conversation about what I do exactly and how that can translate to money. It’s not your job to educate people, of course, but if you glaze over things, don’t be mad when no one understands what you do.
- Talk about money.
I was raised that it is impolite to talk about money. While I will discuss my paycheck with close friends, I don’t think it’s right (in most cases) to blurt out how much money I make. You’ve heard of social proof, though, haven’t you? Online, if you want people to believe you, you have to provide stats and testimonials. Offline, that need for social proof still exists. you don’t have to give dollar amounts, but it does help to note your accomplishments. For example, if someone asks me how I’m doing with my business, I typically say, “Well, in the past six months, I was able to afford to move to the DC metro area, so I’m doing pretty well.” Talk about the fact that you’re saving up for a big purchase (like a house). Celebrate signing a big contract the same way your friends celebrate promotions. Being humble is important, but you don’t have to be so close-lipped about your accomplishments that your friends and family members suspect you’re barely making ends meet.
- Talk about well-known brands in relation to blogging and social media.
Only “internet people” understand the whole blogging thing, right? That’s what a lot of people still believe. Don’t be afraid to throw blogging and social media into the conversation, though – and do so by referencing national brands. For example, the other day, I was having lunch with a friend and we were talking about a recent sports game. At one point, I said, “Oh, I read on the team’s blog…” Another example: The other day, I was talking to my mom about couponing (that’s one of her favorite online activities) and I mentioned that if you like a certain brand’s Facebook page, you get a coupon for a free product. When you talk about the fact that companies like Ford and McDonald’s are on board with blogging and social media, it suddenly becomes a more legitimate industry.
Remember, zombies don’t talk. They moan and groan and maybe even snarl, but it is the survivals who get out there are do the talking. If you want the perception of this industry to continue to change for the better, get out there and talk about it this holiday season!
Your turn – how do you legitimate blogging to your family? Leave a comment below!
- 5 Companies That Are Rocking Social Media (prwarrior.typepad.com)
- Social Proof Is The New Marketing (techcrunch.com)
- It’s About the Response: C.C. Chapman Talks Content at BlogWorld (blogworld.com)
Oct 22, 2011 In-Person Networking
As most of you probably know, one of my biggest (and most awesome) clients is BlogWorld Expo. I’ve written about how life-changing this event can be on my other blog multiple times, and it’s definitely a conference I recommend for anyone even remotely interested in blogging, social networking, internet marketing, and anything else new media. If you’re a business owner, you should be there. If you’re a writer, you should be there. If you’re awesome, you should be there. (If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, you can do so through my affiliate link here.)
About a year ago, I went to my first BlogWorld event. I was scared shitless. The event is really overwhelming and it’s hard to know what to expect. So today, I wanted to put together a list of my best secret tips for newbies. Keep in mind that you can use a lot of these tips at any conference, so even if you don’t attend BlogWorld (boo), you can use this list the next time you do get out of the house for a professional conference.
- Go a day early if you can afford it. You’ll want some time to settle in and relax before the madness begins.
- Stay a day or two late. People stay in town and continue networking and partying, and with no official events to attend, you’ll have more freedom to hang out.
- Write on the backs of business cards you collect. By the time you get home, you’ll forget half the people you meet if you don’t jot down a quick note reminding you who these people are.
- Even better: take pictures with you phone and upload them to Twitter or Facebook, tagging everyone as you go. It’s a great reminder of the people you met when you look at pictures after the event.
- Go to as much official stuff as possible. There’s this new trend in conferences where people “attend,” but don’t actually go to any of the sessions or keynotes. Maybe at other conferences, that’s justified, but the content at BlogWorld is BEYOND AMAZING. Take advantage.
- Follow the official conference hashtag on Twitter to connect with others attending (for BlogWorld LA, it’s #BWELA).
- RSVP to the event on Facebook.
- Plan a daytime schedule. You don’t have to follow it necessarily, but you should have an idea of what you hope to do and when things are happening. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on cool stuff because you’ll forget what’s going on.
- Stalk people who inspire you until you find them…and say hello. Seriously, a-listers don’t get to feel like rock stars in real life any other time of the year. They like meeting fans.
- Re: the above tip – don’t be creepy. Say hello. Tell them why you like their blog. Say goodbye. They are not your new best friend. :-p
- Meet new people. I know you want to hang out with current friends, but also take the chance to break away from your safe little group and have dinner with people you don’t know.
- Dress to kill. Lots of people will be taking pictures. This doesn’t mean that you need to be in an evening gown or something, but leave the sweats at the hotel room.
- Speaking of a hotels, stay in one of the office conference hotels. Not only will you get a discount, but that’s where the action tends to be when the party ends.
- Don’t make tons of plans. You want to have your trusty schedule, but avoid promising people that you’ll go to events together or have dinner or whatnot. Just play it by ear and see where things go. Tons of unoffical parties pop up and you want to be available to go.
- Make sure you have a really great post up on your blog before you leave. People will be checking, so you want your homepage to be spectacular (not that it shouldn’t be all the time).
- Don’t pay for things that could be free. For example, many conferences (including BWELA) have free shuttles and official networking parties usually have some free food.
- And speaking of food, don’t forget to eat and drink plenty of water. It’s easy to get busy and forget these things.
- Get there early. I know your hotel bed is cozy in the wee morning hours, but you seriously don’t want to miss a minute.
- Ask a question in the sessions. Not only will you get an answer from someone pretty smart, but you’re also making a connection with the presenter AND everyone else in the session will hear your name and URL too.
- Take a little notepad with you everywhere. There are tons of great ideas floating around and you won’t always have your laptop turned on to record them. You can also use a smartphone ap to take notes, but be aware that it sometimes looks rude to be on your cell phone when speaking someone. Jotting down a note on a pad of paper doesn’t look as rude. And, you can also write something down for someone else if you have paper with you.
And now, five secrets that you may not know about the event that could really help you make the most of BlogWorld:
Secret #1: Track down the conference organizers and say hello. Don’t wait to pass them in the hall, because it might never happen. Catch them as they’re coming out of or going into the conference office. Don’t take up too much of their time, because they’re super busy, but introduce yourself and thank them for organizing the event. These are the people who pick speakers every year, among other things. You want them to get to know your name.
Secret #2: Elevator pitches suck. You’ve probably heard that you should have a 20-second pitch ready to go so that when you meet new people, you can talk about your blog or product. Screw that. If people are truly interested, they’ll ask you questions about what you’re doing. Just get to know people first before spouting off some kind of canned pitched like a doofus. Yes, you should be able to quickly tell me what your site/product is about, but I don’t need you to pitch me anything just yet. Let’s be friends first.
Secret #3: Everyone is nervous. The event staff are nervous. The experienced attendees are nervous. The speakers and special guests are nervous. The vendors are nervous. Just because you’re a newbie doesn’t mean that you’re the only one who is nervous. We all have insecurities, and most of us spend all day behind the filter of a computer screen, so it makes us a little anxious to meet people in real life. You aren’t alone.
Have you been to BlogWorld or other industry events? If so, leave a comment with your best tips and secrets!
- Official BWELA Party List (blogworld.com)
- 5 Tips for Preparing for Blog World Expo (Or Any Other Conference) (kikolani.com)
- Seven Ways to Start Preparing for BlogWorld NOW (blogworld.com)
Oct 11, 2011 In-Person Networking
Today’s post is a topic I’ve discussed with Lara Kulpa, so I have to give a little credit to her for the inspiration with this post. It’s a pretty personal one, given the color of my locks. Right now, as I’m writing this post, I have pink hair. Not fully pink, but a layer of pink beneath a darker, brown-black layer. People often ask me why. Why do you have pink hair?
I’ve been coloring my hair since I was in high school. It’s been everything from blue (very briefly) to bright red to honey-colored. There’s no rhyme or reason. I just like coloring my hair. I think it’s fun to experiment with different looks, and it’s one of the easiest ways to do so quickly and inexpensively.
I swear that this post has to do with blogging. Hang in there, troopers!
So, when people ask me, “Why do you have pink hair?” I often answer, “Why not?” It’s fun. It fits my personality well, which is why I’ve kept it for so long, and I like grabbing the attention of others with something that’s just a little different.
Let me ask you this, though: Why is your hair pink?
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Kick open the door and aim your shotgun in the corner. Sleep with a machete by your bed. Keep a rifle slung over your shoulder.
You have to…there are zombies everywhere.
Of course, if you peak out your window, the world isn’t on fire and their aren’t brain-craving creatures hunting down the living (yet? yet!) – but online, it’s a different story. You know how in horror movies no one seems to realize that the zombie apocalypse is happening until it’s too late? I feel like that’s what’s going on in the world of blogging right now. That’s why I was inspired to create Blog Zombies. This isn’t a site about zombie movie reviews or where you can participate in a zombie walk or anything like that. This is a site for serious bloggers who are truly excited about their they’re doing – and who want to make some money online without losing passion or selling out.
So how can you spot a blog zombie?
Just as zombies in pop culture take on multiple forms, like the slow, shuffling Romero zombie or the quick-moving, rabid, super-human zombie, blog zombies take on multiple forms as well. You can read about all of the different kinds of zombies in the membership area (coming October 31, 2011), but there’s one thing they all have uncommon: they aren’t passionately devoted to their blog.
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