When I decided to attend Blissdom Canada conference this year, I had 3 goals in mind which were:

1. Observe

2. Network

3. Learn

I am happy to say I’ve accomplished all three.

Now the details…

My observations at Blissdom conference

From the time I signed up to the night before the conference, both Twitter and Facebook  were buzzing with the #BlissdomCA trends – impressive.  There were excitements, questions, confusions, anxieties (mostly from newbies like me) and uncertainties.  Questions were being fired and answered several times because others had  missed it.  Of course others found some of the questions redundant but it was hard not to missed anything.  We are busy moms after all.

I wish there was a forum where KEY QUESTIONS were posted and answered to make it easy for us newbies.   For out going, go-getter kind of people, this is probably not an issue but for moms who have not been “out” for a while; going to another city to meet a whole bunch of strangers without knowing what to expect is really daunting and scary.  It’s the equivalent of “zombies” for mommies.

Women having a blissful lunch

One of the highlights for me was the Marilyn Denis show.  I got there on time and met some wonderful ladies while in line.  Then had lunch with some of them which gave us a chance to know more about each other.  I saw and felt the passions for what they do in their eyes.    That alone inspired me. Then everyone had to go back to their rooms and I was left on my own.

Blissdom Canada 2012

Luckily I spotted @kellywilli  with the #Blissdom tag on, so I connected with her and we went together to the kick off party. Otherwise, I would have gone there by myself.  I could not access any social network on my phone and I was hoping I could use my ipad, but Sheraton didn’t have a wifi in the lobby, so I didn’t see several posts from fellow newbies looking for someone to go with.

I wish there was someone from Blissdom at the Sheraton to welcome newbies and direct lost souls….

The most interesting observation I’ve made was how our advance technology prevents us from networking in the real world.  Lisa Lannin pointed this out during our lunch.

Everywhere I went; people couldn’t stop checking and making updates on their phones.  I was glad my phone plan didn’t include social media and I hope I didn’t ignore the people in front of me.

Networking at Blissdom

Someone said that Blissdom conference was like “speed dating”.  I agree.  And like speed dating – it might not produce the results you wanted.   This doesn’t mean I didn’t get to really network with people – I did.  I think I’ve connected with some interesting people but not by passing out my business cards or briefly having a chat with someone or chatting with them on social networks.  I valued the intimate moments I had with some of the  most interesting women bloggers at Blissdom.  I listened and they listened.  I’ve checked their blogs and I hope they did the same.

I think networking and relationship building are time wasters  if there is no effort to reciprocate from both parties.

There were influencers at Blissdom and clearly, bloggers clamour to connect with them in the hope of getting noticed.   If you are not an influencer or famous on social networks with tons of followers; there is very little attention left for you.  So one can feel left out.  I was looking for a big sign that says “if you are an  unknown blogger – hang out here” but found no such thing.  I would have been happy to chill with these lonely people.  From the feedback I’ve read, there were many who were feeling a bit left out which got me thinking… is following influencers (who  might not reciprocate the attention) really productive and beneficial?

What I learned at Blissdom

Being new to Blissdom, I didn’t know what community leaders were. I thought they were people who will lead us and show us what to do and where to go.   Then I found out they were the one delivering these micro-sessions.  Okay – good so far.  Then I started to panic and felt overwhelmed.  I was sitting at the wrong table!  I would have paid good money for someone to stand up and tell me what to do at that moment.

By the time I figured out what was going on, the table I wanted to be at was full.  Luckily my second choice wasn’t.  By the time I was getting the hang of it – it was time for lunch.

Despite all, I managed to learn some valuable tips from Shelagh Cummins of Mombiz.  I thought I had this elevator pitch down pat but when she asked me for it, it came out so jumbled I couldn’t even understand it myself! “What the F$#@ was I talking about? ” Was the phrase that kept playing in my head throughout the day.

While I don’t yet consider myself a “writer”,  Ann Douglas inspired me to be one.  I’ve been meaning to meet her in person and I thank Blissdom for making this happen.   I wasn’t ready to make a”pitch” anytime soon but I thought I’d check out the PR session anyway.  Glad I did.  Alison Burke and her associate who’s name escaped me at the moment (it’s not on the microssion list) dazzled me with possibilities.

The afternoon was a blur to me.  I became brain dead midway through the conference  – too much information going in and nothing was going out.  At least the micro-sessions allowed for discussion which helped me process the information and making it useful for me.    The speeches I thought were more self-promotional than inspirational.  The techie stuff was not new to me but I am sure it was new news for the majority in the room.

I did however learn something new from Jian Ghomeshi.  Not from what he said but how he presented himself.  He was funny, relevant and really connected with his audience.  THAT to me is something to aspire for.  I didn’t know of him before Blissdom but he was so smooth I just had to listen to him again on Q.

My overall take…

I think it’s a wonderful conference but I think one would need to attend several times to get to know the process, the program and figure out how it can benefit you.  Otherwise, it’s a jungle.   The Blissdom chicks are working hard to improve the conference every year and that’s a good thing.  So if any Blissdom chicks are listening, please give me more opportunity to learn in a smaller group setting.

The “fun stuff'” are awesome!  But it’s not for everyone.  As Susan Cain said – some people just want to chill with a cup of coffee (or wine) and enjoy someone’s company (without the loud music).  That would be a bliss for me, even though I consider myself  an extrovert.

I could see that many bloggers went to Blissdom with results in mind; to further their business.  Some went there just for the experience and the fun of it. Whatever your purpose is, it’s best to know what you want to get out of the conference and create your own agenda.

My biggest regret was: I wish I had a chance to ask bloggers who were using blogspot.ca for their blogs , how they intend on “branding” themselves and further their business or hobby if they don’t own their domain name.  What would they do if Blogspot decided to close down?  The way I see it; having a blog, growing your readership and content on someone else property is dangerous and unpredictable.  The more I visited fellow bloggers blogs, the more concern I got.   I don’t know if they realized they could lose everything they worked hard for.

I guess that question is for next year’s Blissdom.

My Blissdom Blogroll

As I mentioned, I’ve been reading blogs by fellow Blissdom attendees and will be adding them here as I go through the list:)

1. 80Twenty – the balance between good and good for you. An awesome food blog.

2. Emma & the Elements – the emma series books. I’ve got the book and midway through it.

3. Weewelcom – a resource for parents.

4. Mommyisweird – well, that says it all.  You’ll find that she is fabulous. Only her kids thinks she is weird.

5. JulieNowell – a blog of mom who is trying to change the world.

6. Highly Irritable – well not really….