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In Real Life: BlogHer ‘09 [Friday]

Posted Jul 25 2009 11:15pm

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I still can’t believe I’m here! I love Chicago and blogging :) Wait, I already loved both of those things…

I woke up bright and early to make sure I could get the most out of my Friday morning at the conference. I made plans to meet up with Kath for breakfast, so I arrived at the hotel by 8:15. After registering, I found where she was sitting and went to get some grub.

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The selection was quite nice! I always have the hardest time deciding what to get at a buffet, but I eventually decided to keep it simple with some fresh fruit - pineapple, cantaloupe and watermelon – and a blueberry bagel with blackberry preserves. I also had a small glass of OJ, courtesy of Tropicana.

Before the official welcome, I decided I wanted some coffee – it was pretty chilly and I didn’t bring a sweater (of course!). We searched and finally found a Starbucks coffee table. I was just pleased because I also found a packet of hot chocolate – always go for the Coffee Cocoa when it’s available ;)

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Eventually, the ladies of BlogHer themselves made it to the stage.

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They brought up a lot of interesting points. For example, did you know:

  • 30% of people surveyed spend less time reading traditional media now that there are alternatives such as blogs
  • 80% of people surveyed read blogs daily or 2-3x/week
  • 57% of people surveyed blog daily or 2-3x/week
  • 80% of people surveyed use social networks
  • 35% of people surveyed do status updating

In the words of Velveteen Mind, “BlogHer is about the people.” I couldn’t agree more! After the welcome, we had a “speed dating” session where I had a chance to meet roughly 10 or so new bloggers and exchange cards. I made sure to bring my FoodbuzzMOO cards for the occasion!

After our speed round, I made my way to Break-Out Session #1 of the conference. Kath and I both decided to go to “Business of You: Bloggers are Pioneers in a Post-’Employee’ World” and snapped a picture :)

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The session was really interesting. The panel talked a lot about ways to market yourself beyond your blog. I’ve never really done much “pitching” of myself, so it was all news to me. One of the main points the ladies made was that if you don’t value yourself, others won’t know how valuable you are. If you are looking to turn your blog or writing skills into a business, you need to be confident in your abilities and know what you are worth. It will make you that much more appealing to your clients!

After the session, Kath and I made our way down to the exhibition hall. We had a lot of fun meandering around! It’s exhibits like these that make these conferences so valuable to both bloggers and PR professionals alike – there are a lot of opportunities to network with one another and, as a result, learn more about the brands.

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We walked around for about 1/2 hour and then decided to hit up the Ragu-sponsored lunch. Ragu really went all out with their decor – check out this jar of “sauce” made entirely of veggies!

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The buffet-style selection made it difficult to choose once again. Just look at this upside-down pizza!

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Eventually, I made my selection and we found two red and yellow chairs.

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I sampled a little bit of everything for the main course: Caesar salad with mozzarella balls and grape tomatoes; upside-down deep dish pizza with broccoli and cheese, roasted veggies and rice, vegan chickpea salad (my favorite of the bunch!), and 1/2 slice of fresh focaccia that I split with Kath.

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I also got a sampler dessert platter, which included 3 tiny cookies (scone-like in texture and very good!) and an awesome 1/2 of a cannoli, which had a cheesy-sweet (sounds odd but it was delicious) center with small pieces of chocolate. It was my first time trying a cannoli and I loved it.

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After lunch, I headed back to my office for the afternoon, but was thrilled when I found out that I would be able to leave a bit early and return to the conference in time for the keynote and cocktail party!

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The keynote speakers were all very interesting – they were real bloggers who read from real posts on their blogs. It was a wide range – I was laughing hard and crying by the time it was over. While we were listening, I snacked on some dried fruit and nuts that they had outside at a snack table.

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After the keynote, it was time to party :) Kath and I headed back down to the exhibition hall and immediately found the wine table. I chose the Frei Brothers Reserve to start per her recommendation.

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I also snagged some of the appetizers that were on trays as people walked around: crackers with chicken salad, tomatoes filled with guacamole, and some really excellent (not-so-greasy!) crab cake.

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As we were looking for food, Kath was recognized by Sarah from Stonyfield! I’ve worked with Sarah in the past and she is just as sweet and cool in person. Check out Kath’s post for a funny story about how she thought “Oikos” was pronounced :) Sarah also shared a cool link with us about where Stonyfield gets its blueberries.

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After chatting with Sarah for a while, we made our way back to the cocktail food. We both agreed that there could have been a bit more selection (everything was breaded and fried), but it was still good. I got two coconut-crusted shrimp (yum), a dumpling and a Parmesan artichoke with tomato butter.

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Then we ran into Sahar, a very cool lady (and fellow broadcast journalist by study/practice!) who Kath had met last year, and headed over to MizFit’s table!!!!!!!

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She is absolutely 100% as authentic and awesome as she is on her site. We had a lot of fun gabbing for a bit and talking about how we would never be brave enough to do the karaoke that was there ;) Then I went and grabbed a drink from the Izze table – the guy told me it was pomegranate but I’m thinking it was orange. I can’t imagine why…

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I also grabbed another chicken salad cracker and some smoked salmon on a tiny piece of bread.

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It started to get really loud in there, so the three of us – along with two new blog friends, Andrea and Mary! – left to go to another party. I brought white wine with me.

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The ladies took Kath and I up to a mommy blogger party. We waited in line for about 1/2 an hour or so because of the rumor that there would be some awesome HP fun awaiting us. When we got inside, we went to the buffet, which had some great selections that included a chocolate fountain. I only ate roughly 1/2 of everything I took, except for the watermelon and cracker because they were both excellent.

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We decided not to stay too long. Most of the girls had another party to attend, so Kath and I decided to walk around the hotel and look for another soiree :) We eventually ended up at a princess party sponsored by Wine Sisterhood. And yes, a princess party does mean that there are crowns.

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Oh my.

We wandered over to one of the tables and found some really cute cookies – they reminded me of the super buttery ones you can find at Target. No nutritional value, but absolutely phenomenal.

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I had another glass of white wine – BlogHer is only once a year and the selection was great!

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We visited with the girls from springpad – it’s so much fun to meet the people you connect with via email in person because they are always awesome – for a while and then made it to the last buffet of the night. There was another chocolate fountain, so I dipped a little bit of everything in and had a bite of each. The best was still that half-eaten sugar cookie!

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I think you can imagine that at this point, I was pretty much sugared out. There wasn’t much to choose from in terms of healthy eating for the evening, but I’m definitely not complaining because it was still a really great time! I’ve met so many amazing women so far and know it will continue on Saturday!

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! More to come :)

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