Alt Summit 2014 Review: Netwerking.

Ahh Networking. Is there a cheesier word? It just sounds so disingenuous to me, but I guess at its best it should be a way to make mutually beneficial, nurturing connections. One would hope. I think the reality is usually at least 50/50 cheesy/genuine.

So I did meet a lot of fantastic people and had a great time with the ones I already knew.

But I also experienced a lot of ridiculous behavior I have to talk about really quickly. I am sure I am not going to blow anyone’s mind here by admitting there was some extreme fakery, anyone who reads/has a blog must sense it…but again, why does no one acknowledge this exists? I’m gonna. Because I think it is insane and this is why:

**Just to clarify, we aren’t talking about controversial bloggers, we are talking about my peers, the ones who seem to be quite into loveliness & pleasantry.**

Blogging is supposedly this powerful axis point between social media and personal branding. What that presumably means is that you are trying to make yourself seem appealing on your blog so that people will like you or whatever aspect of “you” that you are presenting (your recipes, DIYs, writing etc.). The social media aspect is that you grow your appealing personal brand by finding other people who you relate to, admire, and you make nice virtually. You introduce yourself, compliment each other, follow each other, send traffic back and forth, contribute. And this is a huge part of how blogs grow.

And I am sure this is like le duh for all of you, and how a lot of other business works, but in the Alt world of blogging I at least think your success is essentially linked to your like-ability.

Also…because blogs are online people can collect a lot of blogging capital/success without the usual limitations one might experience in real live life. So you would think again that people would be pretty open because you don’t REALLY know who is behind that site. Unassuming looking/seeming people could be the sneaky/unrecognized force behind the biggest blog there is.

So you would THINK Alt would be like a total openminded lovefest, right?? Am I the only looloo who would think that?

I am sure you all going to be shocked to hear this: It was not. And I don’t mean to focus on the bad, there was more good than bad, and I am about to talk about the good, but NO ONE is real about this and I think that is at least part of why it continues, but I was shocked to see how many of the “bigger” bloggers were either completely cold & aloof, or downright dismissive of people.

And don’t even try with the, ‘maybe they were overwhelmed’ or ‘it’s hard to be on all the time!’. We are BLOGGERZZZ. This is the only place in the world where more than 5 people in a day are going to recognize you. It is time to bring the sparkle. And…

If you don’t want to play nice with the nerds, then DON’T GO TO COMICON!

So one comment yesterday asked if I felt like Alt was friendly to beginners:

I would say if you do it right, yes. Absolutely.

The fakery was not a rule, it was a very pronounced behavior I saw by a select few of the “big” guys. There were another 10 equally as popular and successful bloggers that were warm and open and funny and helpful. If I were going as a new blogger, this is what I would do:

1. Reach out in meaningful ways to the bloggers who I know/admire who are going. Send a specific, personal email introducing yourself, who you are and what you do on your blog. And why you connect with/relate to what they do on their blog. Definitely bring the flattery, but don’t make yourself seem like some spazz (I tend to do this). You want to communicate that you look up to them- but also that they might enjoy knowing you too, not just as a fan. Make connections and plans to get a drink, sit together at lunch etc.

2. Stay with someone. It can be someone as brand new as you are, but I think having some sort of partner makes easing yourself into the flow a lot easier.

3. Go as yourself- not a blogger. Try to make genuine connections more so than blogging connections. Be open and warm and outgoing. My guess from talking to the group of bloggers I was with which ranged from the big to the new, all of us felt a little like freaks and/or geeks at various points and would have been more than open to someone plopping down next to us and chatting us up.

But. Like I said, the majority of my time was spent around a cheese bonfire with some women I am thrilled to now know in real life. I got to reconnect with Mackenzie and Jess who I have known and been fond of in real life for awhile. I finally met Jenny in person. Hers was probably the third blog I ever read, and I liked her even bigger in person. She is a real wo-man. I learned a lot from her and felt like I could have learned more and more. I met Chassity, who is REALLY a quality lady. There were many more but as I sit here in my Nyquil/painkiller haze I am having trouble recalling names. I met some readers, which I always love, and spent truly quality time with these three:

Sally, Molly, & Jamie.
Dipticw

And Jessica Alba, obviously.

In the end Alt was just the kick I needed to get myself in gear. I think for a long time I have been unwittingly doing some of those behaviors that hinder women in business that we talked about awhile ago. I tend to self-deprecate to the point of devaluing my contributions/abilities. I haven’t wanted to own up to my ambitions, and I think in the back of my mind have always felt dorky admitting to taking blogging seriously. But I have been doing this for five years now, and have built up this readership and community I feel so lucky to have, and I think it is high time I show some respect and DTR.

Oh! And of course…the famous Alt business cards. I didn’t get a lot of crazy ones, but I did see some floating about. By FAR my favorite I received was from Beth of Salvage Life. She spoke on the blog to shop panel…caards

She has a beautiful online vintage clothing store and blog, and her cards were these handy little sewing kits.

And then I realized, I don’t think I ever showed you our cards:biscyitcard

Fancy.

They were done by Houston Invitation Service, Kelly did an amazing job.

So final thoughts on Alt. I had a great time. I got my mind going in a way I have felt unable to do since starting Biscuit, and came back feeling both generally inspired and with some great specific ideas. I think being around all of these really successful women in blogging made me realize how lucky I am to have a place in this world, and that I should work a little bit harder to maintain that. My hope for Alt would be that they re-visit the way the panels are done. Whether they vet the panelists, topics or consider more compensation, I think there is a definite room for improvement in an otherwise impressively run conference. There was some highly silly behavior on the part of a few that stood out, but overall, I enjoyed everyone I spent time with, and I came away having learned a lot.

So thoughts on any of this?

Comments

  1. Amy January 29, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Thanks so much for this Bailey! I really appreciate your thoughtful response. Blogging generally is something that I’ve also felt a little dorky admitting that I like. In fact when someone mentions loving my blog I always vomit something out like “thanks, I’m a dork” or “thanks for humoring me.” Gotta get over that and start owning it! I’ve also experienced some cattyness out there, some deserved through growing pains, but some just snarky to be snarky. So this post is incredibly timely. Thanks again!

  2. Jenny B January 29, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Word!

  3. The New Diplomats Wi January 29, 2013 at 11:29 am

    I think you’re spot on in some of this, really. This was my second year and overall, i think the event is way more net positive than negative. BUT… last year, my first, i definitely felt the cold shoulder on several occassions, and this year too. I mean, there are already people know each other and have been at this awhile together, and they’re mostly interested in continuing that together without necessarily making room to teach newer people. This year, I did two things. One, I realized that some people basically live behind a computer and it shouldn’t be surprising that they are less approachable, or even a bit socially awkward in real life – it is what it is. The second was that I developed a much thicker skin this time around – I was more intentional about who I wanted to connect with because they were right “for me”. Still, there’s definitely a sting sometimes though…and I hope that I haven’t inadvertently done it someone else…and actually I end up intentionally staying in my own room just to have a bit of space to hideaway in the moments where it becomes a lot. But it definitely does make it harder since you don’t have a “built in” group then when you go down, you have to become part of a group every time you go down. But it builds character i suppose!

  4. Chassity January 29, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Aghahaha, yes it was funny to watch the pageantry or perhaps I should say parade of big bloggers stroll through the aisles and halls. It was so clear that they were looking to be seen but NOT spoken to. I mean, who does that. It really gave me much ammunition for laughter :) as well as a gentle reminder to always, always keep it real. Again, well said post!

  5. Chassity January 29, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Oh, and thank you for the sweet bit about me :) I feel the exact same about you.

  6. Marisa January 29, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Your honesty is extremely refreshing! Keep it up! :)

  7. Lauren Mills January 29, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I echo your sentiments! I was disappointed in a couple of the panels. They were too broad. I would have benefited more from greater detail on a few number of subjects. Wish I would have tracked you down at Alt, will just have to come by Biscuit!

  8. Chedva January 29, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Funny, this is exactly what I felt at Blogfest last May. And actually, some of the bigger bloggers were nicer (and more genuine) than the mid-range ones, maybe because they don’t have to prove as much?

  9. Lauren Maxwell January 29, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Again great to have your feedback. Thanks – very interesting.

  10. Anna January 29, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    love the honesty that you brought to this post and in general on your blog. I’m not a blogger, but love to read PeppermintBliss and many other blogs, and appreciate your insight on ALT. I liked how you try to remain real to your readers. As real as it can be for me to read a stranger’s internet blog!

  11. Mary January 29, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks so much for being so honest. It is a breathe of fresh air. I’ve been thinking of starting a blog for a long time now and keep putting it off for this reason or that and because of all that unfriendly business you talked about.

    All you can do is be you and if someone is rude or fake then that is on them, not you. It says way more about their own insecurities than anything else. Keep rocking Bailey. I love coming on here and reading your blog it really does put a smile on my face and I look forward to reading your post each day!!

  12. Steph January 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    The gossip in me wants to know who wasn’t over the moon nice to our bailey (yep, you’re ours now, how you’re cool with that) but the part of me that one day hopes to start a blog (though i think i’m too late to the party?) is so grateful, as always, for your complete openness and ability to show that life in blog world (just like real life helllooo) isn’t all puppies and rainbows. Thanks!!!

  13. Mandy H. January 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks for keeping it real Bailey! Truthfully, I already had the thought that going to Alt would be super scary for a beginner and nobody like me. And even though you confirmed my suspicions, lol, you also made it not so scary. It’s doable to me now. :)
    Also, I LOVE your bizness cards. Beautiful!

  14. Laura January 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Bayley,

    Big fan of you- love what you wrote, your voice is so authentic. I am a blogger in Toronto, Canada- I haven’t ever been to Alt, however in Toronto we have an event called Blog Podium- which is the same kind of idea, with panelist/events but on a smaller scale. It is in the beginning stages and I have attended twice. I have definitely felt the exact same way in attendance there, you would think a room full of like minded people who on their blogs represent themselves as fun, super open people would also make an attempt to get to know more than their core group of friends. It is mostly Toronto bloggers in attendance anyways so this would be a great opportunity to branch out. I think a lot of the people that have been featured in print magazines/some of the editors that attend act like they can’t be bothered to make a connection with someone trying to get their name out. Like you I have felt very inspired, but these events always overwhelm me. I am a very outgoing person in my day to day life, but I feel like the “big guys” don’t really go to help, it is more of a popularity contest…. Why didn’t cliques end in high school! haha This is really only the tip of the iceberg I think, there are so many more thoughts- but I have started rambling at this point!

    Laura

  15. Brianna January 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    LOVE the non-douchey recaps of Alt on PB!!

  16. Lisa January 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    So interesting that you were just assuming a love fest and I like that about you! I have noticed this in business so many times – and full disclosure sure I have been guilty of doing it earlier in my career too. There is a funny sense of attitude that comes when people are successful and then meeting up with others that are not as successful. It should be collaborative and supportive but unfortunately I think people have a need to feel “significant” and get that need met by being snotty. As I have gotten more secure with my success I can’t imagine acting that way. But I think I may have when I was “young”. :)

  17. Elizabeth January 29, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Amazing amazing!!! Thank you for your honesty. I have such a hard time with the “cold and dismissive” big bloggers and I am glad I am not the only one who finds them annoying. I agree about the likability factor so why are these people so called “famous”..that word is a stretch but you know what I mean… I have not been to a conference like this but am going to IFB next week and I don’t know what to expect honestly. Like you mentioned, I am going as me, not as a blogger. Thanks for your honest summary and tips!!!

  18. Lauren @ T&G January 29, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I love reading about you getting together with all my other blog heroes! For instance, I would have been like Cool, there’s Jessica Alba… OMG IT’S JENNY KOMEDA!!!!!

    And your business card is perfection! It makes me want fancy custom coasters.

  19. Marissa January 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    I just wanted to comment and say (also, this is my first comment, wohoo!) that I read a LOT of blogs. I love shopping, cooking, DIY, etc and have a ton of go to blogs that I know will post cute things. But your blog is the only one that I read daily just because I like the person writing. You write about things that aren’t really “on my radar” (I don’t own my own home, I am unmarried and I am not really sure if kids are ever going to be for me) but I just think you are so likeable and REAL and honest! You write about things that are interesting and are open and don’t hold back. It seems like so many other blogs are written with a basic formula and frankly, they all sound like they are written by the exact same (perfectly made up and dressed!) person. Don’t ever change! :)

  20. Marissa January 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I just wanted to say (and this is my first comment, wohoo! Well actually, it is my second, because I tried to post this like 5 mins ago and apparently failed…anyway!)

    that I read a lot of blogs. I love shopping, cooking, DIY, etc, and I have a number of blogs that I know will always post cute things. But your blog is the only one that I read daily just because I really like the person writing. You come off as so likeable and honest and relatable.

  21. Bre January 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    THIS is why I come here every day FIRST before any other blog. Your voice is so authentic and earnest, I just love reading every word.

  22. Steph @ Upbeat Eats January 29, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I had a very parallel experience recently. I am a newer-ish member of the healthy living blog community – there are big guns aplenty on this side of the blogosphere. I went to a large conference recently and saw some of the “big bloggers” I’ve followed for years before I took the plunge and got my own blog. I completely got the sense that I would be bothering them if I approached. I even ended up at a dinner with a few of them, and they insisted on staying together and questioning the host of of our dinner – a potential brand partner – why THEY should partner with HER brand. It was a total “what’s in it for me?” I didn’t get to speak with them despite my reading their work day in and day out. Then again I did not try the strategies you mentioned, i.e. emailing them in advance to see if we could meet. I think I will have to think very carefully about my approach next time around – I was really caught off guard by it!

  23. Christine January 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    I just wanted to say I agree with Marissa and Bre. I love your design taste but really what keeps me coming back is your personality which I think shines through in all of your posts. I also think you are pretty inspiring – opening Biscuit and having a small child is ALOT of work – and you seem to have such a good attitude even though I can imagine that some days you are pretty tired. Way to go – keep it up!

  24. Jennifer January 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Hey Bailey–
    Not completely surprised that you found some of the other blogger-chicks not living up to your friendly expectations. I find that to be generally true of the entire population. I do not understand why some women tend to be catty and not help our gender out as a whole. I tend to try and live by the motto, “treat others as you would like to be treated,” even if others don’t always. Anyway love you and stalk your blog and am so relieved, Jenny is as great in person, because you two are my pretend blogger BFFS!

  25. Melissa January 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I felt the exact same way after Blogfest in May. Some of the ladies whose blogs I read and was excited to meet in person were so elitist and truly seemed to think they were actually famous beyond cyberspace. I found myself completely underwhelmed in a sea of candy colored jeans, ballet flats, top knots and other cliche trends and realized not many of these women were true originals. It gave me a greater appreciation for those who work themselves up the ladder in traditional print media, seeking editorial expertise of those more experienced rather than reaching a cult status overnight from behind a computer screen. The time I used to spend on blogs I generally spend on Pinterest now anyway, with the exception of yours and a few others. Keep on keeping it real.

  26. Emilie January 29, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I am not a blogger but read a large quantity of them and I have been wondering for quite some time about what Alt is really like “behind the scenes”. I have not come across one blog that has ever given an honest review of its value and what it is really like.

    You think that a bunch of women would want to be all girl power yay lets help one another conquer teh interwebs. A little sad that is not the reality of the situation.

    I freaking love your blog and appreciate your honesty.

  27. smash January 29, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Two thumbs up for the super honest ALT reports and much needed call-outs! I have done a few guest posts on my blog, and I have always been amazed by who responds to emails/inquiries, and who doesn’t even bother. I’ve actually found that some of the urber (are we calling them famous?) bloggers actually take the time to write thoughtful responses, while others never get back to you. Shows you something about why they are so popular in the first place, they are kind to people! Sorry you experienced some negativity/snobbery, but know that if I was there I would have totally stalked you for a chat. xo

  28. Cameron January 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    “I can get a pretty good look at a t-bone steak by sticking my head up a bulls a** but I’d rather take the butcher’s word for it.”-Tommy Boy. Thank you for being the butcher, Bailey. (Maybe I shouldn’t be in the greeting card business.)

    FYI you should be showing THOSE broads what to do! I snort with glee and drool with delight over your posts. And after all, isn’t that what the internet is all about?

  29. abo January 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    thanks for always keepin it real over here! that’s why we all keep comin back!!! awesome recap.

  30. Cameron January 29, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    “‘Course, I could get a good look at a t-bone steak by sticking my head up a bull’s a**, but i’d rather take the butcher’s word for it.”- Tommy Boy. Thanks for being the butcher, Bailey! (Maybe I shouldn’t go into the greeting card business.)

    FYI you should be showing THOSE broads how it’s done! I snort with glee and drool with delight over your posts. And after all, isn’t that what the Internet is all about?

  31. Kate January 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    I can totally relate to this experience — when I went to ALT NYC I felt like there were people that I expected to be so nice and awesome and friendly in person — just like they appear on their blogs, only to find out they were something quite different than that.

    I guess the takeaway is that eventually you have to back up what you put out there online, right? It was certainly eye-opening for me!

  32. Anne W January 30, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Hi Bailey! Just wanted to chime in and say I really appreciate your honest writing style. You are lovely, talented, and real. Your readers appreciate you :) I echo the sentiment of one of the previous commenters too–can’t help but wonder who these big shots are whose blogs I need to stop reading :) I am a stay at home mom, and I recently started blogging for a creative outlet, and you definitely inspire me!

  33. Molly January 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Happy that you were more brave that I to touch on the “big” bloggers that came off more intimidating and aloof than the warm and fuzzy ladies they seem to be on their blogs. I mean, it’s fine if you don’t know who another blogger is, but extend your hand, accept a business card, and act like you at least have a bit of interest in learning about who they are! I think that no matter how “big” your blog gets, you have to remember that having a successful blog doesn’t make you a celebrity or holier than thou. Seems like an obvious duh, but some peeps legit think they deserve the good tables at restaurants or that people should introduce themselves to them versus being the first to say hello just because their page view count is off the chain. Ew. I’m glad to be the freak of the week in almost any situation and I find it honest to god flattering that people even read my rambling nonsense of a blog. So again, thank you for shining a light on the yucky side of blogger conferences… All the more reason for us to make that Austin thing happen!!
    LOVE YOU!
    M

  34. Tonia January 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    You hit the nail on the head. I learned very early in the game there are popular bloggers that feel they have reached “celebrity status” and don’t have time to acknowledge you with a simple hello when your standing right in front of them. I just hate you had to pay to find it out. Happy to have found you.

  35. Brandi January 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    I’m kind of shocked to hear some bloggers get such big heads over this stuff. I’ve never thought about it before but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Like the others said though, I enjoy your down to earth honesty and opinions, it’s what makes you different. You should definitely be proud of that!

  36. alison g. January 30, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Well, crap. I suspected you might encounter some sophomoric antics – seems like the blog world is a bit like a high school cheerleading tryout, but I still hoped for the best.
    I don’t know how I would have handled the no-time-for-you types, but I imagine some good snark and laughter would’ve been involved. I am glad to read your open yet gracious take on all that jazz, but have to admit it doesn’t do much to further my ambitions in blogging…just…ick.

    More importantly, it was so great to meet you! You’re the real McCoy, and I wish the best for Biscuit and PB.
    xoxo,
    alison

  37. Joi January 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    And THIS is exactly why I come back reading day after day…oh yeah, and your Britney obsession rivals mine. ;-)

  38. Cassie February 1, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I just read this post twice, and it was amazing! I know I texted you being a total freak about how jeal I was about Alt, but I loved reading the recaps and how real you were about the whole experience. Clearly for a newbie (ish?) like me Alt would be freaking terrifying, but maybe one day I’ll have the cojones to check it out. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels like a complete dork about her blog, and maybe now I’ll even start talking about it more? Wouldn’t that be nice! I’m glad to hear about all the cool peeps you met, my Google Reader keeps growing and growing. TGIF sista! XOXO

  39. Happy Weekend | The Now Stylebook February 1, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    […] knowing what to expect at a blogging conference, I really found Peppermint Bliss recap on Alt Summit useful….and very very interesting! Look Linger Love and Vault Files also […]

  40. Krisztina Williams February 4, 2013 at 10:47 am

    It’s a shame, though I’m not surprised to hear about the arrogant bloggers. I’ve found that among the ones who have heavily branded themselves…if they’ve branded a fake, better version of themselves instead of being real, that’s sure to be reflected in person as well. It’s that way with celebrities as well. They feel the need to continuously present this version they’ve branded, and it keeps them from making honest connections with other people. Their loss!!

  41. Rina February 8, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I agree with this. As a newer blogger I have reached out to other businesses and bloggers and have been met with rude comments and/or been completely ignored. I have vowed to never disrespect people who are simply looking for a little helpful advice.

  42. Rina February 8, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    I completely agree with this. As a newer blogger, I have tried to reach out to business owners and other bloggers, only to be met with rude comments or been completely ignored. After numerous experience like this, I have promised myself to never act this way for someone asking for a little helpful advice.

  43. Laura Gaskill February 11, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    I’m late to the picnic here, but I wanted to chime in anyway because I was so happy to hear from someone speaking honestly about this stuff! Eek. “If you don’t want to play nice with the nerds, then DON’T GO TO COMICON!” I LOVE you for that! Just found my way here from your Matchbook feature, but I will be staying. Just so you know. xo Laura

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