To my fellow fashionistas out there:
Last week I attended the Independent Fashion Bloggers Conference in NYC, and what a great experience that was. Roughly a week prior to the event, I came across Jessie’s post on Style and Pepper and became intrigued weather or not this would be a good opportunity to learn more about this new phenomenon known as professional blogging. Now I gladly know it was well worth the expense (oh boy) of flying out to NY last minute.
Bloggers from all over the map showed up for the event. Someone flew all the way from from down under (aka Australia). Crazy but so cool. In case you didn’t show your pretty-blogger face at Milk Studios, but perhaps are planning on attending the next event, here are the things I found useful knowing:
Grab some business cards before going out the door. Only one out of many bloggers I met that day didn’t have a business card handy. And when nearly everyone is prepared, that somehow doesn’t look so great. In a room packed with hundreds of people trying to strive in the fashion blogging industry, this is one of the ways you can stand out and show your personality. Don’t have one yet? Three words (minus the slash): Microsoft Word/Kinko’s. Oh and keep it on you at all times. You never know who you’ll meet when when.
Bring a jacket. The doors opened around 30 minutes after scheduled time while a generous line of fashion-savy girls formed under the cold New York weather. There is no coat check (or at least there wasn’t this time) but you should be fine hanging your outwear over your seat.
Arrive early. Consequently, sit just a short row away from Bryan-Boy (or other massively-known it bloggers). And if you plan on reporting the event on your own blog, this is crucial for good photo ops.
Explore your surroundings. Forget sniffing around the gift bag for a sec and say hello to whoever just sat next to you. Before the first panel starts, take the time to walk around and get familiar with the boots. J Brand, for example had a styling area where you could play around with their collection and all. Get your pictures taken then (it’ll get crazier later).
Give and receive business cards. It’s so easy to obsess 0ver showing and passing along your stylish, I-love-it-so-much business card and forget to collect your peers’. Remember that if you have their information, you can follow-up and control the situation yourself rather then anxiously wait for an email that might never come. One of the most important things about attending this conference to me was the networking opportunity and exchanging cards makes the process easy from the beginning.
Take notes. As many as you can, seriously. My iPad turned into a real life-saver when I was able to record the panels I found the most informative (practically all of it). You’ll be presented with loads of information. I don’t care how great of a memory you’ve got, you’ll walk out of there remembering about half of what you’ve heard. Wait to go to the bathroom during breaks (you don’t wanna miss crucial information in exchange for bathroom relief, no no).
Missed breakfast? Not to worry. They provided us with a generous complimentary lunch that included three different sorts of sandwiches, cookies (so yummy too), chips, energy drinks, vitamin waters, hot cocoa and so on. If you’re on a special diet, I’d bring food and use the long lunch break to do some more networking instead of running out to get something.
Talk to the pros. Even though a lot of these folks are pretty accessible on twitter, when was the last time you had the chance to have a face-to-face chat with a DKNY PR Girl girl and get a flattening complement from Emily of Cupcakes and Cashmere? (She liked the Valentine’s Day inspired nails). No, they’re not celebrities, but panelists are there to share their success story with you. Perhaps by approaching them directly you can get more specific feedback on your ideas and your blog. Don’t chase them down (that would be weird, right?) but if you happened to bump into someone you know, can give you valuable feedback, don’t hesitate to start up a conversation before they speak that day. This way you’ll beat the line of enthusiasts that will form along the stage after the panel is over.
Come to the party afterwards. Alright, I have to admit this wasn’t the most comfortable situation for me. I walked in totally solo. The room was already filled with plenty of beautifully dressed people who had also attended the conference that day, none of which I had met (dang it!). I guess my folks weren’t the party type. It was super intimidating to walk up to people when everyone seemed to be happy in their little circles. But still, I’m glad I went. I think the biggest benefit of being there was strengthening connections I made earlier that day and most importantly, getting to know those people a little more and realizing that it could be the start of a potential friendship.