BlogHer: My Benchmark In Blogging! #BlogHer11NEWS | Nirasha Jaganath | August 31, 2011 at 8:12 pm
I am asked often why I go to BlogHer. I hear responses from learning, to meeting brands, a break, parties, etc – but none of those are my prime reason. In fact when I met Lisa Stone, after I got over the shock that she knew me, I told her that BlogHer was an addiction and I wondered if she thought I was joking, because I wasn’t. I will whine about the cost, time and effort etc but one thing is as certain as the sun rises in the east: I will be at BlogHer come hell or high water.I know what you’re thinking (yeah, call me psychic) “but why do you go?” – simply I go for the other reasons too but I go to hang with my friends. Now you’re thinking what an expensive jaunt that is, right?
Yes, and no. Financially it is a killer but we look at it as investment rather than an expense and somehow that makes it an easier pill to swallow. While brands are great I do believe, outside of my content, my friends are my biggest asset. They are. I have received some of the best projects by referrals but better than that many have held my hand in trying times. As many offline friends go helter skelter busy in their own lives my online friends have helped me survive all the trials these past few years – from job losses to dealing with special needs. While many people assume that online friends are just virtual friends – we speak almost daily hence they know me and and my family and probably meet face to face with all the events more than offline friends do.
To that effect I consider BlogHer to be my ultimate benchmark. Seeing my relationships evolve and seeing the people around. Looking at the people I once revered some move on for the better and some, well let’s just say it is not just actors who should retire while they are ahead of the game. I loved thinking about how each of my BlogHer conference experiences were different. In 2008 I attended a smaller BlogHer conference in Boston – I knew very little outside of my own blog. I realized that year that the blogging world was so much bigger. I also saw the snippets of the cliques and saw opportunity (which most passed by, thanks to their obsessions with themselves). That opportunity grew and made me bolder. By the time BlogHer 2009 rolled around I had already met quite a few bloggers.
But I still managed to see people who I revered talk to me only when there was no one around. I felt small when they did not bother to introduce me and turned their back on me. It was either that or the fact that this was the year that it was my first time away from the kids, but I cried for the entire overwhelming experience. By the last day I called local friends to regroup and was back on track. That year I was also sponsored and realized though I loved the company being sponsored ain’t as glorious as it is cracked out to be.
2010 in New York City was mine for the taking – close to home and also with my best friend in hand. I went unsponsored but I volunteered. I was invited to many more events and amazing experiences but had a shadow cast over it with the news of my MIL’s death. 2011 was a real crunch. $563 was the cost of the flight alone. So still swallowing the “investment” pill I went but this time a group of friends discussed all things BlogHer and it was a wonderful experience to feel someone’s got your back. Also I roomed with Stacie. Now you know the thing about rooming with someone: if you didn’t hate them before you get to hate them after. I have known Stacie for years but you know how to get to know someone when you room with them? Yeah! Well not only did I not want to throw her off the balcony after 5 days, but I grew to love her more. That lady is all heart and one of the most hard working people I know.
I spent the time flitting from event to event, but spending time with friends on the go. Getting to parties were fun but mostly with friends I loved and Alicia, Desiree, and Caryn were perfect hangout buddies. They even indulged my perfect night of ordering in pizza at midnight while we (okay just I) drooled over Anderson Cooper on CNN. Meeting so many fabulous people who I knew on twitter and many more that I had not met.In fact I mentioned to Kate that my favorite moments at a conference are those bonding with friends back in the room and I meant every word. As a community we can only go up if we uplift the community.
Speaking at the conference was a new thing and I was dreading facing an empty room. I was amazed to see a room so packed with people – that many were sitting on the floor too. We decided to keep the format open with questions (in the room and on twitter) and I could clearly see that it was appreciated. We also were open about what we considered ok or not and the audience enjoyed our candidness about our differences – clearly showing there is no right way to do product reviews, just different styles.
I was also invited to a few special meetings that made me feel appreciative of being recognized, and I will be writing separately about my favorite (a meeting with Indra Noyi – CEO of PepsiCo). When I finally hit the expo hall it was almost time for them to close down but thanks (again) to my friends I knew which companies that were focusing on philanthropic activities to follow up on for Mommy Niri Cares. I decided to take a chance on an earlier flight and was glad to see more friends at the airport in the form of Megan and Jodi. Success comes from the heart and if you spread a lot of heart with your friends, success is sure to follow close behind.
See you in New York in 2012!