If you’re attending #BritMums17 and it’s your first time, there are probably 101 things running through your mind in the run up to the big event (which is now less than two months’ away!)
Will it offer great value for money? Will you meet new people? Will there be opportunities to gain a new level of understanding on blog topics you really want to master? Are people going to be friendly? Will you be left standing by yourself and feeling like a numpty? Is it going to be well organised? Will you know where to go and when? What equipment will you need?…And the list goes on.
Braving the unknown…
Most of these questions I can't answer – yet. You see, it's also my first time attending the conference and, if truth be told, I've no idea what to expect.
So…. you might ask, why did I book a ticket to attend #BritMums17 in the first place? Well, for a start it’s a really well-known community so I’m already pretty convinced that it will be well organised and they’ll be some great quality speakers there.
Secondly, having never been before I really want to tick the ‘been there, done that’ box, so I’m better informed on whether or not booking next year’s event will be worth it.
And lastly – but probably the most significant reason I’ve forked out for a ticket – is that I’m hoping my attendance will catapult my knowledge of subject matters that I just can’t get my head round.
I would love nothing more than to come away from #BritMums17 with answers to the following questions (backed up by some solid evidence if I’m to be convinced!)
1. What’s the single biggest thing I can do to attract genuine fans and boost my blog stats permanently? I don’t just mean attracting other bloggers and vloggers who happen to stumble across my site, but rather Joe Bloggs (pun very much intended) who is like a loyal puppy, returning day after day to see if there’s anything new to read.
2. What exactly am I doing wrong on my YouTube channel? I love making videos as I’m creating memories that will (hopefully) last a lifetime, but why do I only get about 6 people watching my videos? (of which 3 of those peeps is really my mum using different pseudonyms). Okay, I exaggerate, but you know what I mean.
3. When I publish a blog post what are the important SEO steps I need to do every single time? Okay, so in the two years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve figured out I need to download the Yoast plugin for SEO – done. But what other practical information can I do that will get me noticed on the search engines?
And I’m also REALLY hoping to experience a few ‘WOW’ moments at the conference.
You know when someone mentions a great idea and you wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself? And then all you want to do is rush back to start implementing the idea because it makes total sense? Yeah – that ‘wow’ moment.
I want to come away feeling enthused and empowered. I want to make friends and start supporting my fellow bloggers. I want to meet new brands and get on their radar. And I want to pick up great tips and tricks and learn how my blog can catapult me to success.
Everyone will have their reasons for attending the event – and each of us will be looking for different answers.
Fail to plan = planning to fail
So how then can we ensure that we really get the most from this year’s #BritMums17 as first time attendees?
Well, I think much of this has to do with the planning process – and adhering to the Scout’s motto of ‘being prepared’ will put you in good stead for a successful conference.
How can I be so sure? I can’t, but what I do know is that I’ve lived by this rule of thumb in the 20 years I've been a travel journalist and it has always put me in good stead.
And based on my experiences of attending conferences, here’s how I’m preparing to take on #BritMums17 and come away feeling like I’ve bossed it. Notebooks at the ready if you will…
1. The devil’s in the detail
So now you’ve got your ticket (or grab it here if you’ve yet to get one), you need to get planning. Keep an eye on the BritMums’ blog as sessions will be announced the closer we get to the big day (Saturday 30th September in London – with special experiences running the whole weekend).
This year’s event will be a mix of deep-dive sessions with quick-hit talks, so make sure that you know exactly which session or talk you plan on attending, who the speaker is and where the session will be held.
Leave plenty of time on the day to get there and to familiarise yourself with the layout of the venue and where the sessions will be taking place (as well as other important info like where the loos are and where the tea & biccies will be served at break times!)
2. Stand up and be counted
If you want to stand out in the crowd and you think that wearing something kooky or dying your hair a crazy colour (a popular trend amongst bloggers and vloggers come to think of it), is the way to go, then go ahead and express your individuality – but only if that’s who you really are.
If like me you’re more of a ‘jeans, t-shirt & trainers’, don’t rock on up in heels and a snug dress; you’ll feel uncomfortable and self-conscious – and it will show.
There are plenty of other ways to get noticed – let your personality shine, complement others (they’ll remember you) and seem genuinely interested in what people have to say. Be prepared to listen to people; opportunity sometimes knocks very softly! (one of my fave quotes).
3. Gear up!
When I attend conferences I always carry my smartphone (more about this in a mo), a notepad, two pens, a pencil, tissues, a fully charged power bank and (usually) my MacBook.
What I’m trying to say is – take your phone to get pictures of slides. This is especially useful if the session is moving too quickly for you to take notes or you are not following what is being said – you can come back to it later. But remember to put it on silent mode first – no one wants to hear your camera clicking every few seconds!
Take a notepad and pens to take notes – you don’t have to write down every word they said – just pointers that you want to look into or consider later.
You need a power bank as a back up; if you’re anything like me by 10.30am my iPhone is on 33%. I have a Kavson Besiter Eclipse Powerbank which means I can charge my iPhone five times over if I need to – it’s worth its weight in gold and gives me peace of mind I won’t run out of charge.
Take tissues as you never know when you find yourself howling with laughter with tears running down your face; finding yourself in a toilet with no loo roll – or even having an attack of the sneezes if the hayfever kicks in. Tissues are a must. Every. Single. Time. So too is antibacterial hand gel, but maybe that’s just me.
4. Get smart
Talking of getting organised before the big day, if you do have a smart phone, then there are a few apps that I swear by.
In no particular order they are: Voice Memos (found in Utilities on an iPhone), which acts as a dicataphone. Great if you don’t want to miss a word of the session taking place and there’s not too much ambient noise going on around you.
Text Detective (downloadable from the App Store) which reads printed copy and transforms it into editable notes on your screen – yes really! So basically, if a brand hands you some printed material, say in a promotional brochure, use Text Detective to essentially take a photo and the app will then make the words magically appear in notes – so you can edit it. No wasted time typing up the words – hey presto!
Another favourite app of mine, which is occasionally hit and miss, but totally worth downloading is Dragon Dictation. This is where you can voice record yourself (or a speaker) and it turns it into print that can be edited. How cool is that?
There are plenty of other apps out there to make your life as a blogger easier when it comes to taking notes, capturing data, automating systems etc, but rather than leaving it until the last minute to discover them, start searching (and using them) now so that you’re a pro at using them when you really need to.
5. Get networking
Believe it or not, yours truly once owned a networking business. I used to facilitate networking events for sole traders and independent businesses to encourage them to generate new business for themselves by supporting each another.
Sadly there’s a huge misconception about networking, with many people seeing it as an opportunity to sell their product or service. How networking works best (and trust me, I should know) is by building a network of people you click with (think of it as making new friends) – and then you help and support one another in whatever ways you can.
If you go about networking in this sense (with an understanding that it might take a while to get something back from it for you and your blog), then you’ve truly understood what it means to be a great networker.
You’ll be spotting opportunities for people in no time, building trust amongst your new-found business friends and on your way to being remembered when a great opportunity arises.
Talking of networking, if you do happen to spot me at #BritMums17 (and good luck with that as I’m only 5’1”), then do say hello. It’s my first time too and I can guarantee a friendly smile and good chat – especially if you know the secret to attracting more YouTube subscribers 😉
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