5 Tips to Make Sure You have a Blast at Conferences!

by Janice

It can be intimidating…

And very, very, lonely walking into a crowd of people who are laughing, hugging, and tweeting it all. Their clique looks so closed you are sure that they have been sitting together for lunch since kindergarten.

It can make you want to throw darts into the eyes of those fellow bloggers who insisted you just HAD to attend a blogging conference!

BUT, no worries. We have all been there — we have all had those moments of insecurities when we clutched our smart phones, hunched over with “intense concentration,” just to save us from approaching a group of strangers, strangers who apparently all know each other!

So, instead of leaving you all alone with your iPhone, I am going to share with you some tips to make sure you have a BLAST at your next blogging conference!

TypeACon - Janice, Jessica, Lisa - by Lolli

TypeACon - Janice Croze, Jessica Rosenberg, Lisa Lehmann - by Lolli

Because honestly, I adore conferences! I simply cannot NOT have fun! It is impossible. I have a GREAT time and make fabulous friendships with incredible, inspiring people.

Sure, I may have some lonely moments, or feelings of inadequacy when I listen to accomplished speakers and think I can’t measure up.

But, the trick is I don’t stay there! I move forward. I focus on positives and believe in the BEST about people, not assume the worst.

5 Tips to Make Sure You have a Blast at Your Next Conference!

1. Tweet in that stream!

When Susan and I first stepped into the lobby of BlogHer ’08, I had a rush of panic. We had a ton of mom blogging friends online, but walking into the throngs of female bloggers from all different genres, I instantly felt very small and isolated.

Because Susan and I had both been very pregnant during BlogHer ’07, we had skipped that year and 2008 was our first time attending. I didn’t anticipate the number of faces I wouldn’t recognize!

But now with Twitter, conference attendees have a way to get meeting people BEFORE they step into that lobby!

The beauty of Twitter is you don’t have to be invited to join the group — you just join in!

You can follow the conference hashtag and start interacting and forming friendships long before your taxi pulls up to the hotel. (In fact, if you are tweeting, you will probably be sharing that taxi with your fellow tweeps!)

TypeACon - Kelly Whalen and Kelly Loubet - by Janice Croze

TypeACon - Kelly Whalen and Kelly Loubet - by Janice Croze

So, follow and tweet! You are one Twitter conversation away from a blogging bestie!

2. Share a room

You may not want to share a bathroom or wear earplugs to block out any unwanted snores, but sharing a room can be a brilliant plan for conference attendees.

Not only are you splitting the bill, but by rooming with another blogger, or two or three, you have instantly formed a group of friends that will share your experiences and keep you from hiding in your room alone, devouring all the swag bag cookies at 9pm.

Your roommate may not become a kindred spirit or your new blogging partner, but having that person “in your corner” can make the conference halls seem a lot less intimidating.

3. Find your kind

I remember when Mom Blogging WAS a genre!!! Yes — Susan and I are that old!

Nowadays, most conferences have ways to ensure you can find fellow members of your “tribe.” You can reach out and find bloggers in your genre, who share your interests, and who can be valuable networking contacts.

Or, if you are like Susan and me, and you defy being tied to one genre, you can focus on finding “your kind” of people — the kind of people that make you feel at home and good about yourself, the kind of people that make you SO glad you found a crazy thing called blogging!

TypeACon - Angela England, Janice Croze, Erica Mueller - by Josh Becker

TypeACon - Angela England, Janice Croze, Erica Mueller - by Josh Becker

And when you do find them, enjoy them. Don’t be in too much of a rush to get out there and move on to the next business card and the next conversation. Get to know them. Build relationships — meaningful friendships that will keep growing, even after your plane takes you back home to dirty dishes and unwritten posts.

4. Open up

I am an open book. Really, it can be a problem! lol

But, the ability to open up and share with people who you really are is what allows relationships to deepen and what takes a hundred hand shakes over a weekend and turns a handful into trusted friendships.

Sure, it can be risky. And you need to be careful — not everyone can or should be your confidante. And there are appropriate levels of sharing!

But, if you can have an attitude of openness, of being your true self and shedding the facade, people will be drawn into your honesty and vulnerability. People don’t want fake. People want real.

5. Take a nap!

Conferences are exhausting. Remember how exhausted you were after giving birth??? Yes — that kind of tiring! Ok, maybe not THAT exhausting, but you get the idea.

Conferences are emotionally, physically, and intellectually taxing! You are pushing yourself to grow, learn, network — and there isn’t much time for sleep.

TypeACon - Timmy - by Janice Croze

TypeACon - Timmy - by Janice Croze

So, if you need to take a break, do it! Steal an hour or two for yourself. Slip in your earplugs and sleep. Like a baby. Cause there is a ton of fun and learning still to be had!

And Remember…

None of us is perfect. People will make mistakes. Sometimes people will hurt you, without even knowing it or intending to.

Conferences can be intense. Heck, life is intense!

So when someone disappoints you, offer them grace. You don’t know what the whole story is. Perception can be so far from reality.

When we allow people to be broken, just as we allow ourselves to be broken, it gives us ALL a chance to have a much more enjoyable life — and a TON more fun!

P.S. Tell me — have you been to a blogging conference? What was your experience like?

P.P.S. If you see me at a conference, please say HI!!! I can’t wait to meet you!

Written by Janice, co-founder of the Mom Blog, 5 Minutes for Mom
We love to chat with you! Tweet with us @5minutesformom and find us on Facebook/5minutesformom.



Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lisa June 30, 2011 at 7:21 am

love love love! so glad we got to at the very least share rides together ;) Now…to get you some bracelets!!! xoxo

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2 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:12 am

Yes Lisa — loved that we started and ended “camp” together! And yes, we need to take a break from all our chatting to hook me up with some of you gorgeous stuff! lol

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3 Angela (CPA Mom) June 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Oh man Janice, you got to meet LISA!!!! I adore her work.

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4 Tiffany Noth June 30, 2011 at 7:54 am

LOVE this! I will be linking back to this tonight during out “What to Bring to Bloggy Conference” Twitter party! It’s great advice for those who have yet to attend a conference and aren’t sure what to expect! {hugs}

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5 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:13 am

Thanks Tiffany! I truly hope it helps first time attendees — it makes me so sad to hear people not having a fabulous time at conferences!

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6 Tiffany Noth June 30, 2011 at 11:22 am

Exactly! That’s what we’re trying to help people avoid at Bloggy Conference… with the Bloggy Squads and Twitter parties prior to the event… so people come to the conference feeling they can really connect and step out there!

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7 Mommy Moment June 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

Great post Janice! Are you ladies going to be at Blissdom Canada?

I can’t wait to attend my 1st conference. It will be fun, I’ll learn a lot. I’ll get to compliment so many wonderful bloggers and encourage them. It’s my passion to make sure all women feel beautiful no matter what shape, size or insecurity!
Yes, I’ll be nervous when I first step in that room, but I won’t let that fear control me!

Thanks for the wonderful tips!

Smiles,
Jody

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8 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:13 am

Yes for sure — can’t miss Blissdom Canada! :)

What a great attitude you have Jody — you will have a great time! Looking forward to meeting you!

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9 Lolli June 30, 2011 at 8:40 am

Great tips, Janice! I agree with all of them! I just hope that the little reference to unwanted snoring was NOT about me. LOL You were a great roommate! xoxo

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10 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:15 am

Oh gosh — no you didn’t snore at all! You were a perfect — AMAZING — roommate! SOOOO glad we got all that extra time together! LOVE YOU!

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11 Melissa June 30, 2011 at 8:46 am

Great post! I was at Blissdom and DisneySMMoms, but I’m so nervous about BlogHer!

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12 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:15 am

Yes – BlogHer can be a bit more intimidating. But you will have a great time — I promise! :)

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13 Kelly June 30, 2011 at 9:07 am

Great advice! I found that making my first conference a smaller one made it easier. I also planned ahead to meet people since I was going without anyone I knew well. I shared a ride with another blogger, shared a room with 6 other bloggers (it was a suite), and it totally helped that the people running the conference were so welcoming.

Another thing that makes it easy to connect-stay in the lobby or other congregation areas. At TypeA the patio was a great place to hang out since people walked by non-stop.

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14 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:17 am

Yes Kelly – GREAT advice and tips for first timers!! I love that there are so many different sizes and options for conferences nowadays!

LOVED meeting you by the way! :)

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15 Annie June 30, 2011 at 9:51 am

Those are amazing pictures – I especially love the one of you and Angie and Erica, such beautiful ladies!!

And that one of Timothy? Very cute, very!

These are wonderful tips. Just get outta your shell and smile and start up a conversation. It is amazing how much we really have in common when we start talking. I’ll admit, I was star struck when I first met you last year Janice. But just talking to you and it was like you were a close friend. The very best thing I ever did was invite myself to dinners and just laugh with the girls!

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16 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:19 am

THANK YOU girl!!! You are sooo sweet!

And definitely no need to be star struck by me — or anyone! We are all just bloggers and people with insecurities, issues and fears too!

LOVED seeing you again — you are SUCH a sweet spirit!

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17 Kelly Loubet June 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

What a beautifully written and sensible post! You are right on all of your points! I love the part you added about perception being different from the reality. Women can be a catty bunch… looking for flaws… but a conference is a place for finding a tribe, not tearing tribes down.

I’ll add a point: Bring an extra bag. I always come home with more than I arrived with. Consider slipping an extra bag in your luggage to haul your swag home!

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18 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:20 am

YES and YES!!!

Kelly, my new blogging bestie, I adore you!!! Thank you for being so open and vulnerable! I love you!

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19 island girl June 30, 2011 at 10:02 am

Oh, fabulous post! Thank you, I’m fairly new…so I’ve not yet been to one. This is VERY helpful, thank you!! Have a great weekend :)

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20 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:21 am

Thank you for the feedback! So glad it is helpful!

You will have a great time – I promise. And if you see me, make sure you say HI ok?

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21 island girl June 30, 2011 at 11:38 am

absolutely, thank you!

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22 Amy June 30, 2011 at 10:04 am

Great advice, Janice. It is very intimidating walking into that huge room for the first time. BlogHer ’09 was my very first conference, so it was VERY scary. I also stayed in a room alone! I had to just go for it, though!

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23 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:22 am

Isn’t it funny how we ALL feel like the new kid in school that first day? But yes, just going for it is the only option! :)

I have loved getting to know you Amy! I think the world of you!

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24 Katherine June 30, 2011 at 10:11 am

Love you Janice! Wish we’d had more time to talk/hang out. Maybe BlogHer?

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25 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:23 am

Love you too girl! Yes — we didn’t get our heart to heart time this year SKYPE DATE!!!!

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26 DadStreet June 30, 2011 at 10:40 am

Great Post Janice! All very good points and ones that you should take as a reminder to every conference. I think the most important thing to remember is that we’re all people and we all have the same feelings, thoughts, and emotions. We don’t walk around with page views or follower counts on our foreheads. That’s a good thing too because then I’d really feel inadequate. The point is, we’re all much closer than we think and if we can break that initial barrier we’ll allow ourselves to find some amazing people. Great meeting you at Type-A Parent!

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27 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:24 am

YES — so true! Well – not the part about you being inadequate! ;)

Great meeting you too! Loved that the “Dads” are coming out to the conferences!

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28 Chele June 30, 2011 at 11:21 am

Oh Jan! It was so nice to see you again! Love these tips. What really hit me while reading this post is when I was sitting with a group of you and we were talking about something (yes I remember what it was but not sharing here. lol) and I jumped in defense when you made a comment and then felt horrible that I did b/c I took it different then what you meant. I’m sorry for that! xoxo I feel better now! :)

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29 Janice June 30, 2011 at 11:27 am

Lol Chele — I honestly do not recall that at ALL! Now I am curious lol — you will have to remind me via email. I hope I didn’t offend you!

That is one of the things I meant tho – about offering grace and giving people the benefit of the doubt. So often it is just a misunderstanding!

Grace and love baby!!!

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30 Jayme (Random Blogette) June 30, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I keep promising myself that one of these days I am going to make it to a conference. It is so hard though being a full-time working mom though. I only get so many vacation days and they are usually used p by sick kids. One of these days I am going to do it for myself though. I am just going to need to bring one of my close bloggy buddies along or I will hide and be an anxious mess. =)

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31 Janice July 1, 2011 at 3:51 am

Yes! As a working mom, that would be so hard! There are quite a few local/smaller events that happen on weekends, so maybe that would be a good place to start!
And if you ARE on your own — do NOT worry! Everyone is there to meet people! They WANT to get to know you!

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32 Linda Sellers June 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm

could i even love you more? so blessed to have you as a friend. and next conference we need more YOU AND ME time, k?

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33 Janice July 1, 2011 at 3:52 am

Right back at you! :) Yes — some good one on one time for sure!

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34 Elena June 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Love this! Great reflections and suggestions. And you are so right about finding your kind and spending the time truly connecting with them instead of being all abuzz to collect biz cards. So glad to have met you,,look forward to seeing you in San Diego!

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35 Janice July 1, 2011 at 3:52 am

Thanks for the feedback! :)

Great to have met you too and SO looking forward to San Diego!

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36 Kris Cain June 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Great post and awesome tips. It is always great to see you!

Kris

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37 Janice July 1, 2011 at 3:53 am

THANKS Kris! And so great to see you too!

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38 Ellen June 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I think that tapping a nap is just about the best tip I have ever read. Although the others are pretty damn good too! As always, adored seeing you! I still say you need your own talk show, Janice!

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39 Janice July 1, 2011 at 3:54 am

Ellen – you are SO awesome!!! I love you! (And yes – I would LOVE my own talk show! LOL You know my Dad had one for 25yrs right?)

And I always try to steal a nap — esp so I can keep partying till 2am! :)

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40 Angela (CPA Mom) June 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I went to Blogher 2007 and had such an awful time I swore never to go to a blogging conference again. I was completely frozen out by people.

I met up with a couple of bloggers on vacation later and THAT ended up crapping my face too.

Met another local blogger…turned out she was not my friend at all – she was using me.

So it was with some great amount of trepidation that I went to Reviewers Retreat 2011 and….HAD A BLAST!!!!! Everyone was so welcoming and it helped to have my family with me too so I had NO TIME or energy to feel sorry for myself anyway :-)

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41 Janice July 1, 2011 at 3:55 am

Oh Angela – I am SO sorry that you had some terrible experiences!!!

BUT how fabulous that you had a GREAT one with the Reviewers Retreat! SO happy for you! :)

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42 amber June 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I got totally overwhelmed last year and didn’t make the most of it, to say the least. This year, I’m determined to do better!

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43 Janice July 1, 2011 at 3:56 am

Aww – so sorry! BUT great attitude for this year! And please make sure you give me a hug – ok???

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44 Kate Hayes July 1, 2011 at 9:32 am

Thanks so much for writing this post! I am getting ready to go to BlogHer – my first conference – and keep waffling back and forth between excitement and “Why in the heck am I doing this again?” Luckily, I do have an “experienced conference blogger” for a roommate and a small network of friends from the Boston blogging community who will be there. But I know that I can’t plan to hang on their coat tails the entire time. I appreciate all the tips I can get!!

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45 Nolie July 1, 2011 at 11:44 am

Loved my time at Blissdom Canada 2010 where I got to meet you. Which by the way people if you don’t know, Janice is just as awesome in person. I did have about an hour where I wanted to go home due to some drama I heard about. Even called Tobei begging him to drive the 3 hours one way to come pick me up. He refused. So I let it all go and decided to make the best of it and I had a blast. Wish I was going this year.

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46 Adrian July 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I have been to a bunch of conferences and usually I have an awesome time. Yes, I do get that clique thing going on occasionally, but then I just drift over to a more receptive group of people. Usually I find one or two good friends that I click with and I just spend time with them.

My problem is sitting through the presentations. I’ve noticed since I’ve discovered FB & Twitter, I have the attention span on a gnat. It is SO hard to sit still for an hour or more unless it is a really riveting presenter. I do poke around on my phone and tweet a bit, but there is no battery life long enough to last through an entire conference (by the way, my iGo portable charger that I got at a conference – rocks!) but sometimes I am just BORED out of my mind. Maybe I need to bring a coloring book or something, or better yet get an iPad so I can play games or something without killing my phone battery.

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47 Jennifer James July 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Love this and loved seeing you! Can’t wait to see you at Blogher!!

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48 Cathi July 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I just returned (as you did) from Type A and mentioned to Susan on the Messy Twins post that I was on the same small plane as you from SVL to ORD. I regret not introducing myself and…I look forward to finally meeting you both at BlogHer in San Diego.

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49 Cathi July 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm

AVL not SVL! ;D

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50 Nota Supermom July 2, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Very timely for me. I’m going to Evo in Utah this week and I’m so nervous!

I am fortunate to have found roommates. Still, I’m just a small-time blogger and I worry about fitting in.

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51 brandy July 2, 2011 at 11:40 pm

We did not talk at Type A much but I was in a group you were in during this conference last week and loved your energy! Type a last week was my first conference ever and I had this moments of feeling lonely but I let them pass and moved forward. I had an awesome time! Great tips!

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52 Becca - Our Crazy Boys July 3, 2011 at 1:12 pm

What a great post – I’m trying to not be overwhelmed by BlogHer, but I already am, and there are 30 days left until I leave!

Thanks for the tips :)

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53 Jen July 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Thanks for these great tips… The one challenge I continuously have after a great blog or tech conference is taking advantage of the great contacts made there. As I return to work post-conference, I haven’t found time to sneak in time to reach out and chat with my new contacts beyond a quick Twitter or Facebook (and after BlogHer11, probably Google+) conversation. I’d love to hear tips from the group!

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54 Ana L. Flores July 5, 2011 at 3:38 am

You and I have only had conference encounters and they have all been beautiful and formed a bond that´s still blooming. I, too, admit to being a conference-addict!! I have way too much fun, make amazing friends, connect nice business deals and learn and grow.
I do need to take your nap advice. At least I´ll think about it…such a hard one to do!

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55 Gabrielle - Design Mom July 6, 2011 at 5:11 am

I love this post, Janice! You are such a great example of putting yourself out there and getting the most out of any situation.

So sad I won’t be at BlogHer this year! You are one of the bloggers I’ll miss the most.

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56 Belgie July 14, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Your wrote some usefull tips. Share a room is a very great idea.

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57 Ellen July 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Love this Janice! My first Blogher this year…a little nervous and excited. Soaking in all of the tips! Can’t wait to see you there! xoxoxo

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58 LaTersa Blakely July 15, 2011 at 11:39 pm

This was an awesome post. Great tips to use when I start going to conferences in the future. Thanks for sharing great inspiration

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