original photo by Justin Hackworth Photography, with text & overlay added by me
- Alt Summit is amazing. Like, really, really amazing. So amazing, in fact, that it can actually be a little overwhelming. Lots of networking, lots of people, lots of parties. Lots, lots, lots. Like a shocking number of other bloggers, I'm an outgoing introvert, which means I'm not afraid of meeting new people or putting myself out there, but it gets draining after a while, and sometimes I just need a break. If you're feeling drained or overwhelmed or like you're going to burst into tears (been there), find a quiet place to sit and think, or go back to your room for a quick recharge. I promise, you won't miss anything.
- There's a lot of pressure, coming from no one in particular, to look amazing and fashionable at all times. And there are conference attendees who look like they stepped right off the pages of the latest fashion magazine. But I cross-my-heart promise that no one will care or notice if you're wearing normal clothes that you actually wear in real life. So don't worry so much about how magazine-worthy your outfits are. Bring clothes that look cute and make you feel incredibly confident. That's what really matters.
- Be authentic when you chat with people. Last year, I worked really hard on my business cards, and I made little hand-dipped, painted wooden spoons to attach to each card. So when I met someone new, I was really eager to give them this little gift I'd made for them. But I'm afraid it might have come off as insincere. Like, "Hey, you're fresh meat. Here's my card." So A) if you felt that way talking to me, I'm so sorry. And B) don't worry about passing out as many business cards as possible, or talking about your blog as much as possible. Just be super friendly with people, and remember to be a good listener. And try your hardest to remember people's names. If you just can't, surreptitiously look at their name tag at some point.
- Set measurable, attainable goals before you go, and keep them in mind throughout the conference. They don't have to be huge goals. In fact, modest goals are great! Get to know three bloggers you've admired online. Connect with at least two brands and find out specific details for how you can work with them. Get tips on styling food photos. Pitch that collaboration idea to that really amazing writer who you want to team up with. Make a list, and take satisfaction in crossing those babies off as you achieve them!
- Don't forget to follow up after the conference is over. You don't have to do it right away, but within a few weeks of returning home, send a follow-up email to the bloggers and brands you'd like to work with. Tell them what a pleasure it was meeting them at Alt Summit, and suggest a way you could successfully team up.
- Above all, remember that you are unique and wonderful, and that being true to yourself and speaking with an authentic voice is so, so, so important. Like I said at the beginning, Alt is amazing. And larger-than-life. There are lots of really talented, sparkly people there, and bloggers who have really sweet gigs and beautiful hair and lots of success. And it's really easy to feel a little glum if you don't have that. But you know what? It's OK if you aren't like everyone else. It's OK--better than OK, really--if you're just your very best, kindest, most wonderful you.
Now, go forth and conquer, my friends! Climb those Alt Summit mountains like a boss! And if you're heading to Alt Summit, come find me and say hi, and make sure I'm remembering to take deep breaths.