This weekend I went to the inaugural SoFabCon which was created by Collective Bias. I went for work, and got the benefits any blogger would’ve gotten. It was a fantastic conference. I met people I’ve “known” for years! To meet them in real life blessed my socks off. They no longer live in a picture that’s only one inch square.
I met 4 new people and got to hug two people I’ve chatted with for at least 2 years, Brandi and Christy! Thanks for the photo Wendy! This was at the Dallas airport as we were heading to Arkansas.
One of the hard things going as a contractor was not really getting to hang out with other bloggers. Now, this was something I chose to do because I wanted to hang with my cbSocially team and get to bond with them more. I tried to say, “hi” to pretty much every single person I came across. I was literally giddy with excitement having the chance to go up, introduce myself, and ask who everyone was.
That’s not typically me. I think being there for work gave me the opening to be bold. I have to say, I was shocked at how many people knew me. My blog isn’t well known at all, but I lived for years on Twitter and that’s where most people know me from. Now, they know me from Social Fabric.
My cbSocially team from Collective Bias!
I’m terrible at transitions, so let’s just jump into the “cliques” of conferences. Let’s start with the definition of a clique: “A small group of people with shared interests, who spend time together and exclude others.” I think the important piece to take away from this definition is the last part that says “exclude others”.
I have to say first of all, that I did feel like I was in high school again, but probably not for the reasons you might think. I didn’t feel this way at BlogHer, mostly because it was so massive, but definitely felt it at SoFabCon. In high school, I was the girl most everyone knew either by name or by sight. I was close to a few girls, but was pretty well liked by everyone. That’s how it was for me this weekend. I wasn’t part of any blogging group other than my team. I think had I gone simply as a blogger, I would’ve found my homegirls (I’m so 80s) or hung out with various groups throughout the entire event.
One of my goals was to
hunt down find Sara Blake and say #IHeartNailArt for a bottle of Sally Hansen nail polish! I was so excited to find out she had some left! It was my first time meeting her, too!
Secondly, and this is the biggest reason why I’m writing this is, I don’t think that there were necessarily cliques. I think there were groups of people who blog in the same niche and/or have talked for years and wanted to hang out with these girlfriends in real life for the few short days they had together. Doesn’t that seem the natural thing to do?
I’ve been on women’s retreats with church, and groups of women typically hang out together. They’re the women who have bonded over the years and built relationships so that make sense if they get some time together they’re going to enjoy it.
If Monica Johnson isn’t one of the sweetest gals ever I don’t know who is!
Are some ladies going to have a tight knit group and spend a bulk of their time together? Of course. Does it mean that their group is so isolated that no one’s allowed to join in on the fun or be included? Absolutely not. I truly believe that if any one of us would’ve gone up to any group of ladies hanging out, they would’ve been welcomed to spend time together. That just seems to be the Collective Bias way. We’re all in this together! (channeling High School Musical here) The shirt I’m wearing right now, on my flight home says, “I ♥ My SoFab Family”, and that’s what we are, a family.
I don’t know if it’s the same in your family as it is with mine, but a couple of siblings might have a tighter bond than the others. It’s just the dynamic. It’s not bad, it’s just part of being a family. It doesn’t mean one or two people are excluded, it just means there’s a difference in the relationship.
I know we’re in full conference mode now so what are my suggestions if you’re going to a conference?
- Make yourself available. If you sit in your room or don’t make eye contact with anyone, it will be hard for you to meet anyone. Hang out in the lobby or in conference rooms. No, everyone won’t always rush over to talk to the person sitting by themselves, but maybe, just maybe, one person will and it could make a huge difference for you!
- Start a conversation. If you see someone sitting by themselves or there’s room at a table for one or two more people, ask if you can sit with them. Seriously, what are they doing to do, look at you with a nasty face and say, “no”? Ok, yes, there are rude people out there who might, but I’d say take a chance and have a seat.
- Sit in the middle of a row, because what’s going to happen? People are going to fill in around you as a session begins. Ask a question of the person next to you. Make a positive comment about something the session leader has said and start getting to know that person next to you.
- Share your business card. What could be more effective to opening up a dialogue than to exchange business cards with another blogger. Introduce yourself to someone and ask them about what they blog about. Make them feel important, that they matter and that you’re interested because they’ll start asking you about you and your blog.
- Who’s in your niche? Now, this one would be tough for me because I’m pretty niche-less. =) But, we all know that there are a multitude of blogging niches: photography, parenting, faith, fashion, life, pets, DIY/crafts, single parenting, and this list goes on. Find people that you have stuff in common with! Get to know them and build relationships!
- Smile. Nothing is more inviting to another person than your smile. You will look so much more approachable if you look happy and cheerful than sullen and uninterested (even if you are). A smile will open a world full of doors for you! Try it out!
Now, for those of you in tight knit groups, maybe, if you’re at a 3 day conference, take half a day and spend time getting to know others. Eat at someone else’s table or go to different sessions than your posse. Just mingle with others for a little while. Expand your horizons and get to know a few others. After your sessions, go hang out with your girlfriends for the rest of the night and maybe invite one or two new ladies to join you.
I’m putting a lot of weight on you (and myself) so that we don’t put our thoughts about “cliques” onto others. Yes, there might be cliques, and I really didn’t see them that way at this conference, but you have a responsibility to yourself and your blog to get out there and connect with others. Don’t be jealous, and trust me when I say I get how hard that can be, but be glad that some ladies have found time to grow their relationships and make them more real!
If any of you feel like you were left out or not included in some of the activities, please let Collective Bias know. I saw that they’ll be sending out a survey because they want to know what worked and what didn’t work. One of my suggestions is to pull from Bloggy Boot Camp where they don’t let you sit at the same table with the same people at every keynote, and I think that’s fabulous! You still get your time with your girls, but for an hour or two, you get to spend time with people you might not otherwise meet. That’s just my two cents for their survey.
I hope that you’ll have a wonderful experience at any blogging conference you go to and remember, it’s going to start with the ball in your court!
For the record, these are my personal thoughts and have nothing to do with my job. They don’t even know I’m writing about this because I’m doing it as a blogger, not as a contractor.