Different Is Bliss! Blissdom Canada 2013

“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 photographerjewelry 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 highlight presentation was Drew Dudley’s closing keynote. I wrote a summary of his inspiring talk on my business blog.

So, did I come home wearing something pink? You betcha! My nails were polished bright, sparkly pink at the pyjama party the last night of the conference.
Photo courtesy of Anna Epp Photography
To read more about Blissdom Canada 2013, check out the blogs linked up on their wrap-up post.
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