Wednesday, April 13, 2016

#BlogPaws - the Introvert-Friendly Conference (Insider Tips Galore, Inside!)

cardigan welsh corgi Dewi sitting pretty with text overlay


All images contained herein are from past BlogPaws conferences and are of my own extroverted dogs, Jon Farleigh and Dewi.

I'm an introvert and often, socially awkward. Well, until you get to know me, then I'm perfectly fine with saying out loud, what I wanted to say out loud the first time we met, but couldn't. Because I was worried I'd sound like a blathering booby (who should've worn a different, less distracting shirt, because I imagined you were judging it. Along with my hairdo--or lack of--and possibly my overbite).

I'll say whatever comes into my head from the safety of my computer, though. (Like, do you think I'd say the word "booby," which I just wrote, out loud to a stranger? Ha! Never*!) Good thing you'll never know my true personality...

* One should be careful about saying "never."

Wait. You will! Because I GET TO MEET ALL OF YOU AT BLOGPAWS! And, besides not saying "booby" out loud, Chronicles of Cardigan-me is exactly who you'll get! All pet people come as they are at BlogPaws (not a "blathering booby" in sight)!

INTROVERTS OF A FEATHER (OR FUR, SCALES...) FLOCK TOGETHER AT BLOGPAWS

I had this blog up for several months before I realized I wasn't the only introvert (note: I prefer the more appropriate description, "socially inhibited person," to "introvert," although, both are true) in all of blogland. It seemed counter intuitive to me: blogs were invented for extroverts; how else could someone put herself OUT THERE for everyone to see? But I was wrong. At least in pet blogging: the longer I wrote, the more I realized pet blogger folk are just like me. (My "tribe," I'd later call them.) Creative, outspoken animal people. And we're some of the best people to bring together in person, of all the people I can imagine!

This June, I'll attend my fifth BlogPaws conference. Trust me; if I can find a way to rock my introverted ways in a conference setting that many times? So the fur can YOU!


Are you gonna take us over there where all that delicious food is, or are we just gonna stare at it from way over here?

THAT'S A SWEET STORY, ELIZABETH, BUT I REALLY JUST NEED SOMEONE TO SAVE ME A SEAT IN THE CAFETERIA

Well, it's not a cafeteria, it's a buffet, and you'll get to serve yourself...but OK, I get it! No really. When I arrived at my first BlogPaws (of whose attendees I had never met anyone, in person), I walked right into lunch, already in progress. There was NO WAY I was wandering from table to table--with my dogs in tow--asking for permission to have a seat. NO WAY! Thankfully, there was another way...

(And you have another way, too.)

HOW TO BE AN INTROVERT AND ROCK BLOGPAWS

BEFORE THE CONFERENCE

  1. Connect with (at least) one person and agree to be each other's buddy.

    This tip is the reason I didn't eat a bag of almonds for lunch--alone, in my hotel room--when I walked into my first BlogPaws. I had exchanged numbers with one other blogger, before I left home. Laurie Eno (The Daily Corgi) was my lifeline. As soon as I texted her, she was on her way to rescue me (from myself) and invited me to have lunch at her table (which was occupied by the nicest bunch of cocker spaniel rescue people I had ever met). The meal set the tone for the rest of my conference experience. Have a lifeline! This is the #1 most important tip I can share!

  2. Go to #BlogPawsChats.

    Other conference attendees will be there, and one might end up being your lifeline (refer to #1). In addition, you'll get conference scoop, directly from the BlogPaws team. You'll get practice interacting with brands that are special guests, and that might also be conference sponsors. Did I mention you'll meet other conference attendees? Be there, most Tuesdays, from 8-10 ET on Twitter! I'm @ChroniclesCardi; hope to see you!

  3. Get involved in the BlogPaws Community, and Facebook page, boost/support group.

    Did you know there's a conference Newbies group in the community? I'm a co-moderator. Come join us! Subscribe to updates at the 2016 BlogPaws Conference event page on Facebook! The more you know, the less you'll need to find out on your own at the conference.

  4. While you're being active in #BlogPawsChats and Facebook, mention that you're an introvert.

    Yes, go ahead and get that off your chest. Trust me, IT HELPS! Remember how I mentioned I thought I was the only introverted blogger on Earth? How do you think I found out otherwise? Yep! Another blogger confessed she was, too, in a blog comment. We instantly bonded. A conference newbie confessed she was nervous about not knowing anyone in a #BlogPawsChat last year, and I bonded with her, too (we went to dinner at the conference and are friends to this day). Say it out loud (online)! Pet bloggers understand!

    Hey, my mom wants y'all to know she's an introvert and socially awkward. Can you point me toward the snacks? 

  5. Make a list of people you want to meet at the conference.

    Carve out some time, sit down, and write out a list of the people you simply MUST get in front of, even if it's just to say, "Hi, I love your blog." There will be SO many people at the conference, you won't know where to begin, without a list. Make it a goal to check off each person. It will add "purpose" to your verbal interactions. And I have a trick for finding people: Look at the agenda on sched.org! As people sign up for sessions/events, they'll show up on the corresponding attendee list. If you're in the same session as someone on your list, then there you go! Wait by the door at the end, or get there early and look for that person. I've met several people on my lists this way.

DURING THE CONFERENCE

  1. Bring your pet(s). 

    Nothing gets the conversation rolling like a fur ball on a leash. A guaranteed icebreaker. You know this already. Keep reading...

  2. Go to breakfast on Friday and Saturday, but especially Friday!

    There will be NEWBIES TABLES! Right up front, easily identifiable, and occupied by people who will make you feel instantly welcome. One of those people might be wearing a distracting shirt (but that's OK; she meant for it to be distracting). Fine, I'll be the one in the distracting shirt! I hope you'll come over and judge join me!

  3. Wear a distracting shirt**.

    To be clear: NOT obscene (this is a pet conference, with a chance of young people). Distracting, in a way that makes people stop and notice. (Last year, I wore a t-shirt that screamed, "ASK ME ABOUT MY CAT." Do you think anyone asked me about my cat? Yes [and I have six cats, so imagine that conversation]!) Rest assured, too, that you won't need to look hard to find pet-themed clothing/accessories for sale; there are endless possibilities.

    ** Your distracting shirt doesn't have to be a shirt: it can be a flat pet, or a pin (just make sure it's easy to read from a polite distance), or a sign, a bag, pants, a hat, cat ears, glasses, purse, scarf, entire costume...basically anything!

    A few pins to get you started.

    Follow Chronicles of Cardigan's board Way Cool Pet-Related People Clothes on Pinterest.

  4. Get to your learning session a little early and ask the person(s) seated next to you about their blog/pet/reason for being at the conference.

    BlogPaws is no place for elevator silence; take a deep breath and say hi to the person next door. (Chances are, that person is feeling anxious just like you!) Exchange business cards (if you have enough) and chat a little about what you do outside of a pet blogging conference. You might even make a solid friend, with whom you can sit during lunch (or talk to on break, or stand with at Yappy Hour/Happy Meow-ur). You will not regret this!

    She gave me her name, but I got distracted by the ball and forgot to ask about her blog. 

  5. Make arrangements to sit with someone at lunch.

    Whether it's your one pre-arranged lifeline, or the person you bonded with at a session, don't be shy about this. Text or tweet or send a Facebook message, if you need to, but get on someone else's radar for lunch! (The table might be full when you get there, but at least someone is looking for you, and you won't be alone looking for a seat.)

  6. Don't be afraid to be alone, when you need some alone time.

    No one is going to spot you alone in a lobby chair, for example, and label you a wallflower (they will be too busy trying to get through their own hectic day). This goes for any place you go to be alone in public. My favorite BlogPaws (alone) place has historically been the pool (I do this at home, too). Just be sure and make some alone time, so you can recharge your introvert batteries!

  7. (Optional) Join the Friday evening Newbie gathering (details TBD).

    After you've joined the 2016 Newbies group in the BlogPaws community, head over to this discussion and make known your interest! I can't think of a better way--if you've not already got Friday plans (refer to conference agenda)--to get to know other, kindred bloggers at the conference.

OPTIONAL (BEFORE AND/OR DURING THE CONFERENCE)

  1. Get a (human) roommate.

    Not sure how to go about this? There's a roommate interest board in the Newbies group. I didn't have the nerve to get a roommate until my third conference. It turned out SO well, that we roomed together again for my fourth (last year). She (Jessica of You Did What With Your Wiener? fame) self-describes as an extrovert, by the way, but turns out, that was exactly what I needed. Besides just having someone to talk to in the room, and stand next to in a crowd, she kept me accountable to get out of the room and participate. She even shared her session notes when I needed to take some "me" time at the pool. Think a roommate might be for you? Start working on that now. (Reminder: Hotel restrictions permit only two pets per room. I did not have pets with me either year I had a roommate; however, she did. And they were perfect!)

    You realize you're not sleeping alone, right?

  2. If you're road-tripping, share the driving with another attendee.

    And, wouldn't you know, there's a Newbies group interest board for ride sharing, too! I've never shared a ride, personally, but many folks do. Is there a better way to get one's pre-conference jitters out than to speak them into the ear of another person? I don't know!

  3. Eat pickles.

    Not kidding. There's scientific evidence that pickled (fermented) food consumption helps curb social anxiety. I haven't paid close enough attention to corroborate! 

So, how are you feeling? Ready to rock BlogPaws? (Yes, you are and will!)

What are your questions? Got any other tips to share? (Conference veterans, speak up!)

Haven't purchased your BlogPaws conference pass yet? REGISTER HERE and use my 10% off discount code: BP16-Amb-Elizabeth10


P.S. I'm not the only one who's ever written tips for introverts attending BlogPaws and networking events, in general. Here are two other great resources:

Networking for Introverts, by former BlogPaws blog manager, Robbi Hess (an introvert)
The Introvert's Guide to Having an Awesome Time at BlogPaws, by Dr. Jessica Vogelsang (an introvert)


12 comments:

  1. the first year mom attended, she made sure to have a roommate. and brought - FOSTER KITTENS! Talk about an ice breaker. While mom isn't sure she would call herself an introvert, she will admit that large social settings aren't her thing. It made a huge difference to know that there was a group of bloggers that she "knew online" that was attending too!

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    1. I might have touched a kitten that year. :) That was SO cool! And, yes, best ice breaker ever!

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  2. Y'know, the first BlogPaws the mom won a ticket to go. And she didn't go because she was so afraid she would be uncomfortable...not know what to do...not know anyone. When she finally got her nerve up to go to one a couple years later, she kicks herself for not going sooner. It really is a fun time...whether you're an introvert or extrovert. Great tips!

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    1. I'm so sorry you missed that first conference (I almost didn't go the time I got 3rd in BlogPaws or Bust; I was still nervous, and wouldn't be able to take my dogs cross-country, but being involved in the community, and connecting with others who were going, pushed me over my insecurities. I'm SO glad; that conference was pivotal.) See you in June!

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  3. From one introvert to another, thank you for this awesome post with wonderful tips. I'm pretty excited to go to the conference, but I'm also a bit nervous. I'm sure I will have a wonderful time, though, and I plan on taking full advantage of the newbie table and the TBD gathering. :-)

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    1. Can't wait to meet you, Rachel! I'm so glad there's a newbie outing planned. That would have been SO helpful for me my first COUPLE of conferences.

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  4. Love these tips! Even as a speaker this year, I'm still stressing over the fact that I'll have to socialize with others. Being so very introverted (or socially inept, as I refer to myself) is debilitating at times. And always exhausting by the end of a conference. I LOVE BlogPaws, but do need to take these tips to heart. My lifeline won't be able to be at the conference this year. I'll need to find a new one.

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    1. I talked to you last year, Karen, thanks to an into by the awesome Flea at Jones (will miss her SO much this year). You were doing just fine for "ineptness" I might add. Find that other lifeline, though. I know you won't have any trouble with that, and you'll be great!

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  5. SO many good tips for us to pass on to Mum. THANK YOU!!!

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  6. TW thought that most bloggers are introverts otherwise they'd be out partying with friends rather than writing blogs. She started using me on SM to stay anonymous. She's extremely shy and wouldn't have gone to that first conference in 2011 and blow her anonymous cover except one of our Twitter friends offered to drive her and be her roomie. The first time she met said Twitter friend was when Theresa picked her up to drive to Virginia. They've gone to 3 conferences together and see each other socially back in NJ too. TW will be the first to admit while at Blogpaws, she doesn't talk to a heck of a lot of people, just Theresa and her best blogging friend.

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    1. I know TW and I'm so glad she felt brave enough to talk to me last year! She doesn't know this (I don't think), but she was on my list of people that were MUST SEE. ☺ Terri T. helped me find her.

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  7. Great info! I'm not an introvert but this is my first BlogPaws conference and your tips were very helpful. 'Can't bring my felines but I'll be looking forward to meeting the four and two-legged attendees!

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