“I’ll be out of the office Thursday and Friday this week. I’m going to a blogging conference that will be mostly women. So, if I come back wearing something pink… you’ll know what happened.”
That’s pretty much what I told my team at work at few days before taking the train to Mississauga for Blissdom Canada 2013. Some context here: I work in video game development, so “normal” to me is a ratio of about 15 women for every 100 men (and that includes HR and Finance!). When I bought my ticket, I knew that this conference would be something completely different and I’m not talking about learning/networking/partying with around 300 women (and a few men) for three days. Something completely different is exactly what I was looking for!
My bliss started weeks before the event. I won my hotel room in a draw for participating in a pre-conference Twitter party. Amazing! Thanks so much to the Blissdom Canada Team and Delta Meadowvale! Check out the great room:
|The comfy bed at the Delta Meadowvale|
This was followed by a lovely welcome box I received in the mail. I’ve attended a lot of professional conferences and this was definitely a first.
|Sponsor samples from Sunlight and Philosophy|
On the subject of sponsors… All conferences have sponsors, but this is the first conference I’ve been at where the sponsors sincerely try to woo us. I came back from the last conference with a collection of stress toys (what does that say about project managers?):
|Stress toys collected at the PMI Global Congress 2012|
Arriving at Blissdom, my ride from the GO Train station was courtesy of the wonderful concierge service from Chevrolet Canada and I was greeted at the hotel with this adorable bear, who also supports pancreatic cancer research:
|Tempur-Pedic Bear from Sleep Country Canada|
Even our conference welcome bags were stuffed with Sponsor goodies:
|Conference welcome back Sponsor swag and the Sleep Country Tempur-Pedic travel pillow|
I quickly realized that these Sponsors got it. Here’s a conference with 300+ socially connected writers. This was the perfect opportunity to directly connect with consumers and influencers and, for some, it was a two-way connection. If you are looking for feedback on your brand, this would probably be one of the best groups from which to receive it. The Tim Horton’s #timspirations suite became a favorite hangout:
|One way to connect with your audience…|
But I didn’t go to Blissdom for the Sponsors. My goal was to learn more about blogging and to learn from the community. Within 30 minutes of arrival, I knew I was in the right place! I think “bloggers” does not adequately describe the Blissdom participants. This was the most diverse group of entrepreneurs I have ever met. I met a fascinating photographer, jewelry maker and kraftswoman in the conference’s Handmade Marketplace. At the opening cocktail, I met an inspiring woman with an organic seed business and a food blogger in search of yummy-ness, just to name a few. Throughout the weekend, I also connected with a Social Media Fairy Godmother, an Animated Woman and a Canadian Mom, who are all in my own backyard of Montreal. This really is only a few of the fabulous people I met. I could go on and on.
As for the sessions, some of my favorites were:
- The Art of Creativity, by Jason Theodor
- Taking That First Step microsession with Gillian Duffy
- The Power Hour, which included:
- An emotional panel on Social Media Etiquette, beautifully summarized by Common Cents Mom
The highlight presentation was Drew Dudley’s closing keynote. I wrote a summary of his inspiring talk on my business blog.
|Photo courtesy of Anna Epp Photography|