1. Set Your Goals
What do you want to get out of the weekend? To meet online friends in real life? To connect with great brands? To learn how to take your blog to the next level? To learn technical stuff or to work on your design; to get better writing/photography/SEO skills; to really crack Google+? Whatever your top priorities are will determine how you approach the next point.
2. Know The Agenda
Bookmark it, add it to your planner, print it out, whatever you need to do to get to know this thing like the back of your hand. Who's where and when? What are they talking about? Which sessions meet the goals you set in point one?
Decide on the sessions you want to attend and plan your days accordingly, scheduling in some down time or time to meet up with friends if you think you will need it. If you really, really want to meet someone make an arrangement to meet or swap phone numbers. There are around 500 people there and it can be hard to spot someone in the crowd. Be friendly and socialise, but do stick to your guns. Attend the sessions you need to and are interested in, not the beginner's guide to SEO just because your friend wants to and you'd rather work on your social media skills.
It might be worth scheduling some time for meeting the brands outside of the busy coffee times too, which brings us to...
3. The Brands
The Sponsors and brand stalls will be many (hopefully) and varied (hopefully), so have your business cards ready. Chat naturally rather than bulldozing in and telling them all about your amazing blog. I've seen and heard the aftermath of people doing that a few times now, and it ain't pretty. The PRs are there to connect with bloggers, so just ask them how their day is and start a decent conversation, rather than sallying in proferring your business card.
If there is a PR you work with regularly it's worth arranging some chat time whilst you're there, especially if you are likely to be pitching them a new idea anytime soon. It's always good to put names to faces. Just don't try to pitch the idea that weekend, as you and they will be extremely busy.
4. What to Take
- Your ticket and ID!
- A map and Underground map, write your directions down in advance if it will help
- Business cards
- iPad/tablet/phone and associated chargers
- Pens and notepad
- Snacks like nuts and fruit in case you need a blood sugar boost between the served food
- Body spray/deodorant
- Not much else, travel as light as possible, especially on the Saturday when you will hopefully be leaving with a packed (and heavy) goody bag!
5. What to Wear
- Comfortable, flat shoes
- Lightweight clothes in natural materials, it gets hot in there!
- Go pro if it suits your blog image and your needs with the brands, go casual if you're not that bothered and just want to be comfy - jeans, t-shirt and Converse will be fine if that's better for you - try to ignore all the What I'm Wearing posts if it makes you panic!
- If you want to glam up for the Friday night party, bring a separate outfit and shoes in your bag, but make sure they're light
- A watch, unless you want to keep digging out your phone to make sure you aren't missing something
- A smile, everyone else will be nervous too
And if you see me, do come and say hello. This is my first year sans baby, and I'd love to chat!
And don't forget to enter our competitions!