On Saturday September 10th, 2011 I attended the Minnesota Blogger Conference held at Allina Commons in Minneapolis. The day started bright and early waiting in line for coffee and making connections. First of all, I’d like to give huge props to Missy Berggren and Arik Hanson. This day would not be in existence if was not for their idea to create it! It was also clear that the planning team worked well together and of their contributions are so very appreciated!
Keynote – Lee Odden, Top Rank Marketing
Lee was a great kick off to the event. He channeled his inner Dr. Suess and presented his background information in rhyme form. He explained how Top Rank went from a basement start up the great company it is now.
What you should know:
- You have to have a reason WHY you’re blogging. You need a purpose; you need to make it clear. Someone should be able to figure out what your blog is about within 10 seconds of landing on the page.
- Content is king but creativity is queen.
Session 1: Paul DeBettignies – Power Networking
This session was very relaxed. Paul didn’t speak at us, but rather was hosting a conversation. Paul was introduced and immediately turned the focus on the group. He asked anyone who was attending but didn’t know anyone to stand up and introduce themselves. In a group of about 50, this could be daunting to someone who may be bashful. One by one, people introduced themselves. There was back and forth conversation while introductions were being made. I was able to make an immediate connection with a woman who is involved with Ad Fed. I walked up to her afterwards, introduced myself and we ended up sitting together for the 2nd part of lunch!
What you should know
- You’re always networking! This phrase pops into my head whenever I start a conversation with someone I know. And it is so true! You never know if the person you gave your business card to will need someone with your expertise down the line.
- Know the cool kids. When I first decided that I wanted to join something, Ad Fed was the first place I went. I dove right in and joined a committee. I was very nervous to attend my first event but luckily I knew the cool kid. Cory Vandenberge is our leader on the special events committee and he is so great about introducing you to someone you don’t know at an event. I’m grateful for this and when Paul was talking about making sure you know someone at an event you’re attending, I immediately was reminded of Cory. I hope to return the favor to someone down the line.
- Have a plan. If you can get a hold of the attendee list, scan the names and the organization they’re representing. Check out their website and LinkedIn profile. Make a point to find this person and introduce yourself.
Session 2: Panel – Building Communities Online and Offline
Kate O’Reilly was an awesome moderator. The panel speakers were Jen Emmert, Stephanie Meyer, Ian Schwartz and Meghan Wilker. Meghan talked about how #summerofdresses got started; Jen talked about how her blog has aided in her weight loss and she’s inspired others. I am glad that Ian was representing St. Paul and STP Tweetup!
What you should know
- Have a designated host. If you’re planning a meet-up, make sure someone is in charge. This person should make a point to talk to everyone that is attending.
- Know your venue. Make sure your venue has a good cell connection and having Wi-Fi would be great if it is possible.
Lunch: Taco Bar
Lunch was great. The taco bar was delicious. I was jealous of Jason Douglas for making a taco salad, I didn’t even think of that. I enjoyed the long lunch break. I spent the first half talking with a few people I knew and didn’t know and then enjoyed the second half with an almost stranger.
Session 3: Kate Hopper – Make Your Writing Sing
I was really looking forward to this session because I find myself being so uptight in my writing and having a hard time adding creative touches. Kate’s session was awesome; she is a natural teacher and a wonderful writer. She had us do two free writing exercises. Funny enough, both of mine ended up being about my Grandma. Grandma gives me great material and inspiration.
What you should know
- Use concrete sensory details. Taste, touch, smell, sight and sound will add more to your writing than you’ll ever know.
- “Words can change the world”, my favorite quote from Kate.
- Free write. When you sit down to write, don’t think about the grammatical corrections or spelling. Just write what you feel and go back to edit.
Session 4: Erica Mayer – Vlogging: Lessons to Learn from TV
Erica works for WCCO and has experience behind the camera. In fact, she’s a wonderful photographer and, from what I saw in her session, videographer as well. She had a wonderful way about her that made everyone in the room feel comfortable. She shared her experiences with the wonderful Don Shelby and learning that silence is greater than the word “um”. Even though I don’t have a desire to be a vlogger, her session was still very informational, interesting and fun! I was paying such close attention that I wasn’t even taking notes!
What you should know
- Silence is greater than the word “um”. Your viewers don’t want to hear you stumbling over every word.
- How to not look fat on camera. I’m a pro at this, well, at least I think so. But, photos from a top angle will be more flattering. Same goes for videos. Set your camera up just above eye level.
- Have a plan. Know what your purpose is, people have a short attention span.
- Don’t use tools just because you have them. Maybe your video editing tools have the open to have floating hearts across the screen, don’t use it. I relate this to the font Comic Sans. Just because it exists does not mean it needs to be used. Ever.
Overall, I had an amazing time. I met some amazing people and great connections. I’m looking forward to seeing the things I learned come to life!
A huge thank you to the sponsors: Top Rank, Allina Health and Kare 11. The fact that the event was completely free and in amazing venue made it that much better! Also, huge thanks to Mandy of Glimpses of Soul photography! She donated her time to take head shot photos of any attendee that wanted them in return for a donation to Read Indeed, the charity for the event.