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Nothing makes me as insecure as a blog conference. The time when your online personality meets the offline. The time when you can’t hide behind an avatar. The time when you have to make conversation in more than 140 characters. The time when you can’t draft and edit your thoughts before publishing.
I obsess for weeks before: how much weight have I gained since the last conference? What are my latest successes? How many people know about my latest failures? Was everyone reading my twitter stream that one day I just went off? Will I be the only one wearing a dress? Are jeans OK? What if everyone in the room ignores me?
UGH! Why do I do this to myself?
And then I take a deep breathe, put on my spanx enhanced big girl panties and get on with it.
And something amazing starts to happen. After the first few hours of squeals and delights and big hugs to everyone, I settle into my calm. I find a comfy couch in the corner of the room and even though I may know half the room, I connect with just a few people on a deeper level. I catch up with old friends, make some new ones, really listen to what is going on in their lives. That is where I find my bliss.
I find my bliss in making connections that will last for years with both bloggers an PR reps. I remain conscious that my goal is not to drop my card in every fish bowl, which isn’t a bad thing to have as a goal. It’s just that I have been there, done that. My goal is reconnect with those brands I work with, remind them of my evolving brands, let them know what new I am doing so we can continue to partner together in ways that work for us both.
My goal at these conferences is to listen much more than I talk. Learn about the current themes, hear the buzz and then bring it all back and decompress it into something actionable.
Which answers the question: Why do I do this to myself?
Because stepping out from the virtual world reconnects me with the real people behind all those gorgeous avatars. It re-humanizes this digital world I spend so much of my time in. It reminds me of why I started all this in the first place: to connect with others in a way that expands the boundaries of my little bubble.