Last week, well no really more then a week ago now, I had the honour of attending ShesConnected Conference 2012 as a brand ambassador. It was a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Inspiring, amazing, nerve-wracking, sleepless, non-stop, exhausting; running on caffeine and a liberal splash of Skinny Girl Cocktails.
I was so wound up, so excited, so nervous. I didn’t sleep the night before I left. My train left Windsor at 5:30 am and I stayed up all night long thinking of just one more thing I should do before going. I slept on the train a bit, but did spend a good portion of the ride chatting with @WhispersInspire.
Getting to be part of the behind the scenes planning that goes into a conference like ShesConnected was amazing. But it also meant that I was busy all day Thursday, right until midnight, helping with last minute preparations. And then, instead of doing the sensible thing, i.e. sleeping, I stayed up until 4am “networking” with my amazing room mate @momvstheboys.
It set a bad precedent, I didn’t sleep more then three or four hours a night the entire time I was there. I broke several of the Rules for attending a conference; #1 Get a Good Night’s Sleep and #2 Present Your Best Self. I was running on adrenaline and coffee. No, strike that, I wasn’t running on coffee, I was running on copious amounts of McDonald’s lattes. Thank you McCafe Lounge.
Between the lack of sleep, additional ambassador duties, and general state of nervousness, I constantly felt like there was something I was forgetting to do. I was in perpetual space cadet mode. There was so much to say, so many people I wanted to connect with in real life, so much to do. There was never enough time. I constantly felt like I needed to be in two or three places at once. So many people I saw far too briefly, assuming I’d run into them again later, only days later realizing that I’d never really spoken to x or y or z.
I landed a last minute speaking gig that had me hiding in a corner for part of Friday afternoon as I hurriedly composed some notes. I was a bit nervous, but not paralysingly so. I spoke on the 10 Tactics for Working with Bloggers panel, and I think it went well. Speaking to a room full of twenty or so PR reps was both better and worse then attempting to address a full room of three hundred as I did last year.
|80s Party with Jennifer Martin and Donna Marie Antoniadis.|
I didn’t make it to even half of the sessions that I would have liked to have seen. Part of the problem being that they overlapped. I really need to figure out that whole being in two places at once thing. I was so very much looking forward to the tasting tour that Molson was offering (I am married to a beer snob who rates beers as a hobby), but somehow never managed to be in the lounge at the right time. And I didn’t find time to visit all of the sponsor booths, something I regret immensely.
But for me the best part of the conference were the moments between sessions. The connections made, both socially and professionally. So many hugs! So many fantastic ladies that I had a chance to see in real life, even if far too briefly. There truly couldn’t be a more apt name for the conference then ShesConnected, because it really was all about making connections. The shear number of PR and brand reps present, both as attendees and sponsors was staggering. And I loved that the people manning the various booths were all PR professionals, ready to chat about pitch ideas and exchange business cards.
|Fantastic goodies at the Shades of Grey party, provided by Candy Coated and It’s a Cake Thing.|
Overall, I enjoyed the ambassador role. I liked “working” the conference and the various additional duties kept me busy enough that I didn’t have time to sit and worry about all the silly social things I would normally be panicking about. But I feel like I need to issue a general apology I am socially awkward at the best of times. And this was not me at my best, I was busy, distracted, and sleep deprived. If we met and I seemed aloof, know that I was probably nervous as hell, and/or in the middle of trying to run somewhere to do something. And yes, that’s directed to you, who I talk to all the time online, and also you over there who I stalk your blog and don’t talk to at all.
|Shari, Amanda and Patty during our dinner at Marche.|
Getting false ilash.me eyelashes and having my make-up done,
having smoothies and lattes in the fantastic McCafe Lounge,
my laughably bad attempts at racing around the Ford obstacle course with remote-controlled cars,
handing out retro toys at the 80s party,
dinner at Marche with some fantastic ladies,
talking to all hours of the night with my room mate Jen,
splurging for business class on the train ride home.
Amazing sessions I sat in on:
Content Curation & Content Management
Sober Julie’s Art of Blogger Etiquette
Legal Aspects of Blogging
SEO Strategies for your Blog
How to Build a Sponsorship Package
Sessions I wish I had seen:
Claiming Blog Income
Step Off the Tightrope with Kathryn Lavelle
Google: Google+ and more.
…and about a dozen others.
So what about you folks? Where you there? Did you have a good time? Wish you had went? Want to go next year? I know I wouldn’t miss it for the world (but next year I am promising myself that I am going to get some SLEEP).