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