I have attended a few blogging conferences and events this past year and a half. At conferences/events, I tend to hang by myself for part of the time then join in with groups at other times. I move from group to group throughout the conference or event.
Are you like me? Or do you spend your time with the same group of friends? Or do you mingle with many groups of friends when you attend a blogging conference/event?
I have noticed that many bloggers attend conferences/events where they spend ALL their time with only their friends. I have rationalized that they probably see the event as a girls’ weekend, but it does make it hard for a new blogger to make friends with them. I’m not knocking these bloggers choice of hanging with each other. I know that I enjoy hanging out with my home friends or college friends who I don’t see as often as I would like. So why shouldn’t someone attend a conference and only spend time with friends? Is it a little cliquey of them, though? Should they mingle/associate more with newer bloggers?
For me the problem is twitter. It’s a blessing and a curse. Throughout the day and night I can read tweets, respond to tweets, have conversations with people on twitter. I read their tweets as a way to get to know them. I can’t “chat” to everyone on twitter, but I do have certain people who I have fun chatting to. Once I have chatted with a person on twitter, I see that person as a friend. If I meet that person at a conference I greet them warmly. I love meeting people who “get” what I do. Here’s what I have found though when I meet people. Some want to chat at length or have a question or two for me or just want to get to know me. Others — mostly this is a minority of people at blogging conferences/events — make it clear that we are in a “Hi and Bye” type of relationship.
The first time this happened to me I was shocked and a little hurt. Because as bloggers aren’t we all in this together? Don’t we all get joy out of the networking aspect of blogging. But, here’s the rub is “networking” the same as friendship?
At BlogHer, I made a choice to be on my own for most of the weekend. I rationalized that I had many events I wanted to get to. I knew that I would be frustrated waiting for people to go to the Expo Hall/sessions/whatever. All in all I was very satisfied with all aspects of my trip except for one thing. I missed out on the small, intimate groups largely because I came to blogger with a mission to do as much as I could. Unfortunately the schedule I set for myself didn’t allow time for small group dinners and drinks.
Do I regret my decision to go it alone? No, I accomplished everything that I could at BlogHer. No regrets.
You know, I totally agree with you about the blessing and curse of Twitter. Amazing how something, at a moment like a conference, can make you feel both so included and so excluded at the same time.