We’re finally getting some nice weather, it started last weekend but I was too busy to enjoy it until today! Last weekend I attended the BConnected Conference in Ottawa, and it was fantastic. I know that my first foray into the world of blogging conferences didn’t end well so I was a little unsure about going again, but my husband was willing to watch the kids, my mother wasn’t about to let me waste my ticket, and my sister decided to road trip with me so I didn’t really have a choice!
I remember last fall, before BlissDom, I was all over the Twittersphere. Making sure that people were aware of my existence seemed like a good idea before walking into a room full of strangers! I made sure to get business cards printed up, practiced my smile, and bought a new pair of shoes.
This time I was ridiculously unengaged on the BConnected Facebook page and practically nonexistent at the Twitter parties. I just didn’t see the point in getting all worked up, I didn’t have the energy, and really didn’t want to make a false impression as a real joiner.
What I did do to prepare was to buy another new pair of shoes. It seems like I’m quite the shoe-aholic but really, these are the only two pair that I have bought in the last 18 months. (The scars are still visible from my last pair of heels but that’s another story for another day.) I was smart though, I bought the shoes a week before the conference and wore them for a little while each day to break them in and test them out. The first day it was while I folded laundry (I’m not stupid enough to actually try to walk in them at this point!), the next day I braved a trip to the grocery store with them (nude heels work really well with yoga pants and a sweatshirt!), and the day before I left for Ottawa I wore them to a two-hour orchestra rehearsal. Once I realized that I could drum a rocking beat with these shoes on I knew that I could handle anything.
I was relaxed, I was confident, I was willing to let my sister drive! Our six-hour drive ended up taking closer to nine but other than being hungry we arrived at the hotel in good spirits, where I immediately saw a few familiar faces from last fall walking across the lobby. They didn’t see me but it stabilized me to know that amongst all the new people I was planning to meet there would be some familiar faces as well.
As we walked to the elevator the doors opened to reveal another familiar face, a lovely lady whom I had chatted extensively with in October. As she stepped out of the elevator Paula’s (the Product Junkie) eyes lit up and she gave me a big hug. She may not have remembered my name (I don’t think very many people I spoke to all weekend could have told you my name, I was only addressed directly once or twice) but she remembered my face (or hair, perhaps 🙂 ) and that made me feel like I belonged.
I honestly believe that feeling of belonging is the single most important thing that you can get from a blogging conference. Whether you blog for a living or just a hobby, sharing your stories, knowledge, heartbreak, and happiness on the Internet can be a lonely life. I’ve said before that in some ways life was better before the Internet but I must admit, without it I would never have met any of these amazing people.
There were so many great speakers and events. One of my new “orange star friends”, Alyssa from A Motherhood Experience wrote a lovely round-up of the conference that mentions all of the great presentations, parties, and fun we had over the course of the weekend. The whole conference was very informative and I took away lots of things that I didn’t even know I was looking to learn! I’m looking forward to returning next year to find out what else I need to know. (Also, to get another new pair of shoes!)
Conferences are a great way to make friends, learn new things, and get out of your comfort zone. These are all things that I generally need to work on in my life although I’m getting better every time. This weekend I was much more confident in myself, able to strike up conversations with strangers and comport myself with a fair bit of intelligence. (I hope!) It’s very helpful for my soul to have conversations with people who know what it’s like to try to write/work on your computer when you have a kid running around with no pants on yelling that he needs juice, someone who doesn’t think you’re crazy if you start talking about optimizing photos and SEO, anyone, really, who can understand why on Earth you would want to share your life with the millions of people on the Internet.
I will always be grateful for the time I spent at BConnected, the new friends I met and the less-new ones that I saw again are more important to me than they could know and I look forward to seeing them all again soon!