The very first installment of Blogger Interactive has come and gone. What started as a casual comment in a Facebook thread turned into something of which I am very proud. I’m glad I was a part of the planning process because if I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have gone.
It isn’t that I don’t have the resources (vacation time, money, a child-free weekend) to do something like this. On the contrary, I live a very “no strings attached” lifestyle. The only thing that would have gotten in my way would have been myself.
I spent so much of my life invisible that being visible is a very hard thing for me to do. I don’t like meeting new people. I don’t like being in social situations without at least one friend there with me. I don’t like people knowing enough about me to have expectations because that could mean I disappoint them when we do meet.
Blogger Interactive forced me to go outside of my comfort zone, and I’m really glad it did. I learned that all of my fears were irrational, and would have caused me to miss out on a great time. If you could have gone, but didn’t, here’s why you should reconsider for next year.
It’s not as scary as you think it’ll be.
You know those people who are great at peer interactions? Yeah, I’m not one of them. I get sweaty palms, dry mouth, and my hands shake. That goes up tenfold when I’m with people I’ve never met before. While I definitely experienced that before getting to Austin, it disappeared once people started arriving. I’m not known for being a hugger, and yet I gave multiple ones this past weekend. I didn’t have to force a single conversation, and if hadn’t been for that pesky sleep thing, I probably would have talked to some people all night. It was easy being there, that’s the best way I can describe it.
It was fun.
That’s an understatement. I was exhausted the whole weekend because everything was at a level 10 when everyone was together. Several conversations were going on at once, people were dancing, there was loud laughter, the venues (and their staff) were incredible, and I was blinded several times by the flash of a camera. Having a group of people who’ve never met before come together for the first time, especially after knowing each other online for some time, creates an energy worth experiencing.
You will make connections.
I detest networking. I hate shaking people’s hands and telling them a laundry list of things I’m good at. This is an un-networking networking event if I’ve ever been to one. Lauren from Key + Arrow mentioned to me that she was afraid to ask people if she could guest post, and I said I knew bloggers who would love to have her. Julian Gallo, one of our speakers, was able to connect with John from SocietyRed to talk about self-publishing. I have some ideas I’m tossing around that I’ll be approaching attendees about in the near future. This event made seemingly inaccessible things/people/information more accessible, and that is what networking is really about.
You will be inspired.
Between the guest speakers, and interacting with other bloggers in a more personal way, my creative juices are flowing hardcore. I want to self-publish a book now. I have several projects I want to start. I have dozens of post ideas. I want to revamp my blog. I want to take a more active role in community building here on WordPress. This weekend reminded me of why I was a writer.
“But Jen, this is all so easy for you to say. You’re one of the organizers. This wouldn’t apply to me.” Uh, yes it would. Do you want to know how I know that? Because other attendees echoed these same sentiments to me several times throughout the event. If it applies to us, it applies to you.
There will be an official wrap up post over at the Blogger Interactive site coming soon, but for now, I wanted to give you my “fresh from the trip” thoughts. Hope to see more of you at BI 2014!
I want take this moment to personally thank the bloggers (and blog supporters!) who attended the event, and encourage all of you reading this to visit their sites.