BlogHer '11 was my first blogging conference. Some have asked me if it was overwhelming to attend such a large conference, especially as a first time attendee.
I am able to honestly answer that I never did feel the largeness that the numbers of BlogHer '11 would suggest (4,000 attendees!) and I know the reason for my feeling at ease: it was arriving a day early to BlogHer to attend Pathfinder's Day.
I made the decision to begin my BlogHer '11 experience with the Pathfinder's Day pass, an idea that another first time conference attendee had suggested. Pathfinder's Day is an add on pre-conference workshop held the day before BlogHer's official opening of Friday, August 5. Passes for this day are limited to 40-50 attendees per each of the five potential blogging paths offered.
I, along with the other Pathfinder attendees, began our Thursday morning with what felt like an intimate breakfast, since there were only 250 of us at most. Our keynote speaker was personal brand expert, Sandra Miley. Only in such a small setting would I have been fortunate enough to find myself seated right next to this intelligent, charming woman.
Sandra and I were able to sit together and exchange points of view regarding the importance of being authentic, and finding your own unique voice. Here I was, only at Pathfinder's Day for twenty minutes, and already incredible things were happening.
As exciting as it was to to have breakfast with Sandra, it was her message to all of us at the Pathfinder's community breakfast that anchored me through my days at BlogHer. She spoke of how being who you are, and no one else, that results in the trademark that is you.
I carried these words in my heart for the next few days, and they came to my rescue many a time as I would find myself slipping into the comparison trap of thinking I had nothing new to offer, that everything that needs to be out there is already out there. I would think of Sandra's message, and keep on reminding myself that I am the only one that can write my words.
I thought often of how different BlogHer '11 would have been for me had I not been there to hear the opening address of Pathfinder's Day.
I chose the "Your Blog As Life Changer" path, facilitated by Gwen Bell and Karen Walrond of chookooloonks.com. We spent our morning writing down our thoughts to some very intimate life questions. With only 50 of us together, that afternoon we talked about what was important to us, to our lives, and our blogs. Our lunchtime keynote speaker was just as exciting as Sandra Miley. We were treated to an inspirational presentation by author and self-esteem expert, Jess Weiner, who spoke on the collective power that is us.
Over the next two days, I kept running into people I had met at Pathfinder's. I got to know others I already knew online at Pathfinder's. All of this initial face to face contact was possible due to the smaller setting of this pre-conference workshop. I remember finishing PFD feeling relaxed, excited, and ready to ease into the BIG day of the official BlogHer kick off.
I had made new friends, gotten my feet wet, and this pre-conference workshop felt like the most important day I had spent at BlogHer. These are the reasons I will attend Pathfinder's Day again.
Deciding to add on the Pathfinder's Day pass for this worthwhile pre-conference event for BlogHer '12 is an easy choice for me. The mind boggling part will be over which of the five paths to choose.