Excitement is running high as BlogHer ’12 draws near. Everyone is talking about the parties, how much swag they came home with last time – and you know everyone is out shopping to be sure they are ready for all the glam and glitz of New York City. I booked my flights last night and am so excited for all that awaits us.
“Bring an extra bag for the swag!” is what people will tell you. “Plan everything out so you can be sure to get to all the parties!” is echoing through Twitter and Facebook. “Such and such party gives the best swag!” “I would do anything to get a (insert name of event here) invite!”
Well, first, let’s point out the obvious. You’re probably not likely to do anything to get that invite you are pining over. You may think you are, but I assure you, I could make you a list and you’d say no to all of them. And don’t test me either, I have a great imagination and you would look fantastic in Lady Gaga’s meat dress…or maybe a NYC deli version. Pastrami pants, anyone?
Second, while marketing materials that hit the relevant, valuable and useful mark are awesome, please, please tell me that you can find other things to look forward to and take home from a conference. It can seem like a river of “stuff” when it’s all under your nose, but when you get home I guarantee, you’re getting rid of most of it. A company might want to make an impression on you, and that’s great. Head to the Expo, meet some brands, shake hands, ask how they work with bloggers – you can do this in a personal way. If you find a great new product because of a sample or giveaway, wonderful! But please tell me that you are honestly not excited about a bagful of freebies?
Oh, and just a footnote – the term swag comes from “stuff we all get.” So if we all get it, please just relax about the whole thing. Stuff will come, it’s inevitable. But please, let’s not make it even one bit of the conversation. Here’s why – if you are pining over a party because they give the best swag, or celebrating your highly coveted invite in front of others who aren’t going – well, I have news for you. At that point, it’s not actual conference swag. It’s not “stuff we all get.” And what you are doing is exactly what you would be horrified to hear your kids doing. You’re putting your focus on the material benefits of what should be an amazing experience for the heart, mind and soul and then making sure everyone knows your “stuff” will be better than theirs. Please, let’s act like we ask our kids to act at the very least. Connect with people and brands you want to meet. Send emails and direct messages where appropriate, attend the events that tempt you, and if you are invited, spoiled or treated well, thank the brand or host in a genuine way and just for the love of all things holy, stop there.
I can remember hearing about BlogHer 2010, and how when the location was announced as NYC the excitement hit a fever pitch. I remember the shiver of excitement I felt when things started to fall into place for me to go last minute. I couldn’t imagine how amazing it would be to be surrounded by everyone I knew and wanted to meet, especially in NYC. I knew we’d make even deeper connections, and that there would be plenty of good to take away from the sessions – and I was right. The fun of parties and drinks with friends who make me laugh is just extra…but really, the location and décor aren’t what make the party. It’s always the people. Last year in San Diego was no different. So plan your weekend, accept your invites, and…don’t skip this step…politely decline invitations to events you cannot attend. Be realistic and know you can’t be everywhere at once. Be gracious and attend the events you really don’t want to miss, and make room for someone else to attend the others.
Want to know the secret to finding the absolute best swag at BlogHer? Look inside, you’re the key to it all. Here’s the real “swag” we should be paying attention to. Stuff we all will take away from BlogHer, if we are brave and smart and sure. I wrote last year about what to bring to the conference, and today I’m telling you what you should be passionate about bringing home:
Minds full of ideas, ready to bring new life to our work and creative outlets.
Voices hoarse from endless conversations, talking over loud music, and hysterical laughter.
Hearts more deeply connected to those around us.
Memories overflowing with moments of inspiration, poignant conversations, stories and jokes that will be told and retold for weeks.
Photographs full of evidence of everyone you met and the fun you had.
Souls recharged and ready to return to our lives we left at home…brighter and better than when we left.
Yeah. Make room for that swag, baby. Because when you get home, that’s the stuff you’re going to keep.
See you in NYC!