Pair a newbie with an experienced attendee...so smart.
I decided to reach out to her with a series of random questions, all of which will help me prepare for my adventure. Since this will be a new experience for me, I'm so grateful she was willing to answer the following. Maybe these BlogFest tips will help YOU if you're planning to attend:
Tara: What kind of clothing should I pack?
Tiffany: Workout clothes are a MUST—but also bring a sweatshirt or comfy track pants to layer with. Some sessions at IDEA World will be sitting/listening in an air conditioned room and it's no fun being sweaty and shivering through a lecture. Bring one nice casual outfit for the evening networking party.
Tara: Awesome. Definitely using this event as an excuse to get a few new things. Did you bring your computer to the conference, or did it stay in your hotel room?
Tiffany: A laptop can be useful for taking really good notes, yes. But carrying it around can be a real pain. Getting a bluetooth enabled keyboard to type notes into your mobile device can be just as effective and a lot less heavy!
Tara: I'll be taking the old-fashioned route. Pen and paper:
Tiffany: YES. You might not want to take home everything you accumulate during the conference. Last year, we got exercise equipment, shoes and at the Expo I won a pull up bar. Make sure you have the option to decide if you want to bring it all home by traveling light TO the expo with an empty duffel in your suitcase that you can convert into a carry-on on the way home. If you're driving, then you can stuff your car with any goodies your airplane traveling friends couldn't take.
Tara: Definitely not driving, so I'll be stuffing a duffel in my suitcase. In addition, I'll be traveling with a small suitcase and my Apera gym bag. Lots of pockets, room for tons of snacks. So, my next question...what is the food like? Are meals easy to find?
Tiffany: There are restaurants within walking distance of the convention center and a few places that will have bites to eat. On the weekend, though, not all of those places will be open. Food inside the convention center will be your typical sandwich/cafe style food and at the IDEA Expo there will be snacks. I highly recommend joining a grocery group on the first day or bringing some shelf-stable snacks that you can rely on. You'll burn a lot of calories with all the workouts and need to refuel throughout the day. If you have specific dietary needs, all the more reason to make sure you've got your own supply!
Tara: Really hoping I can find some fresh fruit when I get there...definitely need to discover a grocery group! I will probably pack some oatmeal and peanut butter packets, along with the usual granola bars and snacks. I always travel with food, although I fully expect to sample like crazy at the expo, too. What is the expo like, anyway? Any advice for navigating it?
Tiffany: The best way to navigate it is to research in advance who will be there. If there are any booths at the expo that you MUST visit, look at the map when you get there and make sure you hit those FIRST. If not, it's always best to start at one end and work your way up and down the aisles. That way, you can come and go between sessions and know where you left off.
Tara: I totally like to snake my way from one end to the other at these things, but will scope out the brands, for sure. I know I need to find ACE, and I'm on the hunt for a new yoga mat, so I'll have to see what brands are there that might sell them. Any advice on interacting with these brands?
Tiffany: Have your "elevator pitch" ready. If you were riding an elevator and your dream sponsor person walks in and asks you if you know any good bloggers to work with, you'd have maybe one or two minutes to sell yourself. What would you say? In two or three sentences, how would you describe what makes you unique and what you can offer? Practice it and try out a few different approaches.
Tara: Speaking of meeting people. What it's like to share a room with someone you've never met? I'm rooming with three other people that I've never met in person.
Tiffany: Sometimes sharing tight spaces with relative strangers is a much more considerate and thoughtful experience than sharing one with your closest friends. That being said, up front communication is always best. "Do you mind if I move your things over so I can sit at the table while I blog?" Or if you're an introvert like me and find yourself needing space, don't be afraid to kindly say so, e.g. "Hey guys, I'm gonna head back early so I can get some quiet time before the next session begins. Gotta recharge from all this social fun!".
Tara: Did you actually ever have time to sit at a table and blog at BlogFest?
Tiffany: I don't believe I wrote and posted anything while at the conference but I may have had something scheduled to post while I was away. I think it's definitely doable to bring a laptop and compose a mid-conference post in your hotel room at night...but that may require you to sacrifice much needed rest or social time with other attendees.
Tara: I definitely don't want to sacrifice social time! Are there any must-do things, events and/or sessions at IDEA World?
Tiffany: Definitely go to a showcase workout/ There's nothing like doing yoga or Zumba in a room with 400 people! Definitely try a type of workout/exercise you've never done before. Definitely seek out a session that will teach you something you're curious about but know very little about to begin with.
Tara: I'm signed up for Jillian Michael's showcase workout. Currently freaking out about seeing her in person! I'm sure that I will also freak out about packing at some point in the future, so tell me five must-pack items.
Tiffany: Bring a good good pair of cross-training shoes that you'd also feel comfortable running in for 30 minutes. All the cords or battery packs you need to charge your mobile devices on-the-go. Business cards with your blog and socials on it for networking. Something to take note with, and something to freshen yourself up with on-the-go.
Tara: Sweet, I already carry most of this in my gym bag.
Tiffany: A yoga mat because you'll be given one or get to borrow one. Something to do in your down time (there shouldn't be any). A media kit. The fear of trying new things and meeting new people. And don't bring work or family stress with you if you can avoid it. You'll get more out of BlogFest if you can be present and not worry about what's going on at home.
Tara: This is the first time I will be traveling to California...and the first time I'll be so far away from both my kiddos. I'm probably going to worry about that just a little bit, but I know they'll be in good hands while I'm gone...and probably won't even care that I'm gone, really. Ha!
For more from Tiffany on how to win big at BlogFest, head on over to her blog today. She's talking about things you need to do NOW to maximize your opportunities at the event.
Question: Are you going to BlogFest? What additional tips can you give me?