Lessons I Learned at a Travel Blogging Conference That Don’t Really Have Anything to Do with Traveling or Blogging
There was even something called “Speed Dating,” which, apparently, had nothing to do with dating or taking speed.
What it had to do with I wouldn’t know.
Because I didn’t do it. Whatever it was.
I also didn’t attend a single keynote or workshop.
I didn’t network with any industry professionals. Unless by “industry professionals,” you’re referring to “hotdog stand owners.” In that case, I had a really fabulous discussion with a man who sold me this:
This was not entirely my fault.
Okay, so it was mostly my fault.
I did attempt to attend a few more sessions, but they were so crazy-packed that there was no room to sit, not even on the floor. And, well, I kind of have a strict “I’m not standing in the back of the room for an hour unless someone’s going to start eating fire and juggling monkeys on that stage” policy. And seeing as most of the sessions had big, scary, long names like “Virtual Social Digital Marketing & Viral ROI Media Strategy Sharing” I kind of had a feeling there were not going to be any fire or monkeys involved. (Unless ROI means monkeys. Please tell me ROI doesn’t mean monkeys, or I’m going to be really upset I missed that.)
So instead of, you know, standing around, learning stuff, I spent the majority of my weekend shoving food and drinks into my face and then making crazy-eyes at the camera.
In other words: the usual.
This is not to say I didn’t learn things, you guys.
I learned a lot.
Except none of it really had to do with traveling or blogging.
I did learn a lot about how to get the most amount of free food into my face in the least amount of time possible.
Because priorities, people. I’ve got them.
Lesson #1: Just be yourself, and people will probably like you. Also, wine.I was terrified before I showed up at TBEX.
Like, to-the-point-of-having-bad-dreams-for-three-nights-in-a-row terrified.
What if nobody would talk to me?
What if I got all jittery and sweaty and rashy like I usually do at these kind of things?
What if the people who met me were all disappointed because I tend to be a lot less funny and a lot more grumpy in real life than I am in my Internet life?
It didn’t help that prior to even leaving for the conference I kept on hearing about cool after-parties and other events I hadn’t been invited to. People hadn’t even met me and they’d already decided I wasn’t “exclusive party” material! What would happen when they did meet me and they saw me in all my sweaty, jittery, rashy glory?
I was doomed.And then I showed up to the opening night party.
And people talked to me.
And I talked to them.
And I didn’t get too rashy or jittery.
I even managed to be kind of entertaining.
In a I’m-sweating-too-much-and-I’ve-probably-had-way-too-much-wine kind of way.
Lesson #2: Sometimes the weirdest combinations are the bestest combinations.This, my friends, is a cube of cheese rolled in maple syrup rolled in snow.
You guys, I’m not really a religious person, but I swear to you I saw the face of God right here.
I really did.
Lesson #3: No matter how old you are or how many people you know, you’re still going to have those awkward first-day-of-high-school moments.I told you about my first day of high school right?
When I showed up to a brand new school where I didn’t know a single person besides my brother, wearing a shirt my mom had made me. Which seemed like a really good idea at the time. Until I got to school and realized that nobody else was wearing a shirt their mom had made them. And I walked into the cafeteria and didn’t know anybody. And I had to sit at a table of people who wouldn’t talk to me because I was the weird girl wearing the shirt her mom had made her.
I told you about that, right?
Well, when I walked into my first lunch at TBEX on Saturday and didn’t see a single person I knew, I felt the exact same way I did back during my first day of high school.
Except I was wearing a shirt I had made myself.
With a cartoon of myself on it.
Because that’s waaaay cool.
Lesson #4: Make your own destiny. Or “Invite Your Own Damn Self to That Party.”On my second night in Toronto, I was informed that the cool after-party that I hadn’t been invited to that night was at Toronto’s hippest nightclub.
And that’s when I decided I was going to that party. Because invitation, schminvitation!
I’m not even really a hip nightclub kind of person, but I wanted to know what Toronto’s hippest nightclub would be like.
And, in case you’re wondering, Toronto’s hippest nightclub has weird ferny plants on the VIP tables.
And it’s frequented by purple Power Rangers.
And there was a waiter that walked by with a tray of free submarine sandwiches just when I was thinking to myself, “Geez, I could really go for a free submarine sandwich right now.”
I don’t know, you guys. I may turn out to be a hip nightclub person after all.
I mean, plants and Power Rangers and free subs!
What’s not to love?
Lesson #5: Know your purpose. It doesn’t have to be a noble purpose. Or even a good purpose. It just has to be a purpose.One of the two sessions that I actually attended during the conference was labeled “Content Strategy: What are You Writing and Why.”
I had no idea what Content Strategy was. I hoped that Content Strategy meant “How to Write Blog Posts that Aren’t Five Million Words Long and Don’t Take Four Days to Write.” Because I could really use some help with that.
It turns out that Content Strategy is just a fancy word for “purpose.” And the whole point of the session was to explain how we should really have a purpose for our blogs.
Which, honestly, guys, that’s pretty much the only thing this blog does have.
You see, back when I first started blogging a million-billion years ago, my first ever blog post was a funny story about my lunch. And while my blog has changed names and platforms, expanded and contracted, been designed and redesigned, the purpose has pretty much remained the same: to tell funny stories about my lunch.
Recently I got into a little Facebook discussion with another blogger who implied that there wasn’t much purpose to my blog – that the silly stories I write are just that.
He’s probably right. `
But, you know what?
Silly is totally a purpose.
It may not be a grand save-the-world kind of purpose. But it’s still a purpose.My purpose for attending TBEX was probably just as frivolous as my purpose for my blog.
I know I should probably feel bad about not attending more sessions or doing more travel bloggy stuff. But my purpose was never I’m-going-to-learn-a-billion-things-and-have-the-best-blog-ever-and-make-a-million-bucks-and-go-on-lots-of-free-trips-and-everyone-in-the-world-is-going-to-love-me.
And it never has been.
My purpose was to hang out with people. And have fun. And, okay, shove as much free food into my face as humanly possible.
And, yes, that’s totally a purpose, you guys.Have any fun conference stories? What important lessons have you learned while at a conference?