I’m used to attending large events on my own. My husband and I co-create Modern Vintage Magazine and get invited to so many things at the eleventh hour, that often there isn’t time to organise a sitter or a companion who isn’t working/already busy/not interested in ANOTHER vintage event. Invariably I just go along on my own. It isn’t always easy: sometimes, you look a bit odd wandering around alone and I’ve even had people speak to me like they feel sorry for me, ‘aww you couldn’t find ANYONE that wanted to come along with you?’
But I just don’t care.
It’s daunting of course, but if you walk into a room with your head held high, looking like you have the confidence of a bull fighter, then people will tend to assume that you do and treat you as such. There’s also something to be said for how being a ‘lone ranger’ forces you to be sociable and meet new people.
I went to Brit Mums Live alone. I knew I would meet up with the lovely Morgana at some point, but we only connected on Twitter very recently after having met several years ago (when I sold her a wedding dress!). Apart from that, I didn’t know anyone. I’m not great when it comes to making connections online. I comment on posts and I reply to comments on my own blog, but I’ve just never caught the bug when it comes to meet ups, linkys and group blogging. So I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know what to expect!
What I found was that yes, there are lots of cliques and groups, but they aren’t mean girls! People attend these types of events because they want to meet new people and I wasn’t the only one there on my lonesome.
My Top Tips For Virgin Blog Conference Attendees (especially lone rangers!):
- Post what you’ll be wearing. Oftentimes we look very different on a computer/mobile screen and with so many people it can be hard to pick a face out of the crowd.
- Stand out. wear something bright or something unusual that will start a conversation. This is not an occasion to be a wall flower!
- Sign up for a focus group. 100s of bloggers can be overwhelming, but if you can join a focus group of say, six….well that’s a little easier to deal with and will give you the opportunity to make some connections.
- Go to the loo. All women chat in the toilets, I’m sure men do too!! If you’re feeling freaked out or lonely, take yourself off to the bathroom and say hello to the woman washing her hands next to you. You’ll be surprised how many friendships have begun in just those circumstances.
- Tweet. Tweet that you’re nervous or that you’re heading there alone and include the relevant hashtag. The blogging community can be daunting, but they’re a motherly bunch and not one Brit Mum-er would be pleased to hear later that someone felt uncomfortable.
- Say hello. Pretend that you aren’t shy; imagine how a confident person would deal with the situation and just do that until you feel confident for real! Say hi to people who are close by or whose eyes you catch and introduce yourself. Join a busy table and when you pour a glass of water offer it to the person next to you.
- Pay a compliment. Maybe you recognise a blogger whose writing you love, perhaps someone has great shoes or a super cute baby. Just say something nice. Even if you don’t strike up a conversation, the other person will feel great and you never know when someone may be needing that.
- Ask questions. If you don’t know what to say, then say something with a ???? In the words of Katy Hill ‘bloggers are over sharers’ and over sharers love to be asked questions!!
- Take business cards. You may not consider your blog to be a business, but a little rectangle of card is the best way to give your details to the people you connect with.
- Wear flat shoes. For the love of all that is good and comfy in the World DO NOT wear heels!!
- Scare yourself. Once you face a fear, (like speaking into a microphone ):-S everything else just seems easy 🙂
- Bring a bigger bag. You would not believe how much stuff you get sent home with at Brit Mums Live!!!
- Remember why you’re attending. Are you there to learn something or to meet people or both? Work out what it is is you hope to gain and don’t forget it. The best way to leave a conference feeling happy is to achieve what you set out to do.
- Find one person!! Use the hashtag and the linkys to connect with at least one person beforehand. Put yourself out there and ask if you can meet up before the conference. You don’t have to spend the whole two days together, but it’s nice to know that you have at least one person’s phone number and can find them if you need to.
I’m thrilled with my first Brit Mums experience. I had a great time with my new friend Morgana, made lots of other new friends who I am sure I’ll stay connected with and had a very, very promising meeting with a literary agent (more about that another time *squeals*). I learnt about the legal and accounting aspects of blogging, heard some interesting tips about social media and received some great support on the subject of negativity and trolling.
I enjoyed the keynote speakers, particular the inspirational Katie Piper. I feel privileged to have heard her speak about her journey from victim to survivor and hope that I can inject a little of her strength and positivity into my own life. But of course the highlight of my BritMums experience was this ……
I won a BiB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Can you believe it? Because I can’t!!!! I had looked at the competition and thought ‘Pah! I’ve no chance, infact I’m bloomin’ lucky to be a finalist at all!!’
I had met the event’s compere in the bathroom earlier that evening (whilst trying to tame my hair and make up) and she had told me not to write myself off. ‘Perhaps’ I thought. Then, I headed for the drinks reception and told a fellow blogger that I loved her jacket.
‘It looks just like Chanel’ I said. ‘It IS Chanel’ she said. :-/ Me, a style finalist, yeah right!
I’d had two glasses of champagne (that’s almost one too many for a lightweight like me) when the announcements began. Sat at the front with two of my fellow style finalists Kat and Avril, craft finalist Emma, photography finalist Marlene, fashion blogger Fiona and family blogger Morgana. I waited for our category to arrive and in my head I practiced my ‘gracious in defeat’ look. I KNEW I wouldn’t win. Morgana and Emma weren’t so dismissive, they braced themselves for the style winner announcement and when they said ‘VINTAGE FOLLY’ they screamed even louder than I did!!
I’m still not quiet sure what I said when I accepted my award but I’m very, very grateful. My lovely man was watching the ceremony on the live feed and admits to shedding a little tear when I won 🙂
Thank you for nominating me, voting for me and ultimately supporting me as I write my nonsense and send it off into the internet. You all feel like my friends. Thank you to Brit Mums and to the judges including the editor of Marie Claire who said such lovely things about Vintage Folly 🙂 and thank you to the other finalists who are all so amazing and so friendly.