So I went alone to a huge event all about blogging with over 700 people in attendance! I stayed in a hotel room at the beautiful RACV Royal Pines Resort at the Gold Coast, where the event was being held, for three nights! I can’t believe I just did that (someone pinch me!), but I did and I’ve got to give myself a bit of cheeky silent applause because the last few years have presented me with some challenges, including anxiety and a strong aversion to crowds, so this was quite an achievement!
I’ve thought a lot about how best to share my experience with you. I don’t want to just share my key takeaway learnings, I want to set the scene and share the whole of the experience from a newbie attendee for the newbies of the future. To best do that, I’ve decided it will be done over a series of posts. This post is about my first afternoon and evening – the day before the conference officially began. If you’ve never been to a Problogger event before and are contemplating it, I hope that my posts will set the scene for you and help you to understand what to expect.
DAY 1 – Thursday 13 August
I arrived around 2pm and checked into my room. The staff at RACV Royal Pines Resort made me feel like royalty when I first arrived. What a great start to my stay!
If you haven’t already, you might like to read about some dorky moments that centre around my lack of experience in hotel rooms here. One of them occurred within moments of arriving!
My room was lovely! I had two double beds all to myself. I felt a bit guilty about that but I knew that I’d need a room to myself (hello introvert needing recharge time!) and so sharing was out of the question. Here’s some phone snaps I posted to Instagram.
The conference doesn’t officially start until the next day but as it was to be an 8:30am start on Friday morning, it suited me to already be settled and only have to wander downstairs rather than a very early morning drive from Brisbane on the Friday morning.
I unpacked, had a coffee, and attempted to settle my nerves. There was to be a newbie orientation with Darren Rowse (founder of Problogger) for those that were at their first Problogger event at 3:30pm, followed by networking drinks with all and sundry at 4:00pm. I figured it was silly of me to hide away in my room when there were hundreds of bloggers already networking downstairs. I finally plucked up the courage to go downstairs and start networking. I saw hundreds of noisy excitable bloggers but none that I recognized and quickly darted for the lifts and back to the safety of my room. Oh dear – this was not in the plan!
Someone up there was looking out for me because I received a message from Lyndall of Seize the Day Project asking me if I had arrived and what room I was in. It turned out we were on the same floor. She was sharing with Shari of Teenage Survival Coach and so I went to their room and was able to arrive with them downstairs for networking – much better than being alone! This was the first time I had met both these ladies IRL (in real life)! I’m so grateful to Lyndall for thinking of me, and it wasn’t the only occasion over those few days that she checked in on me. She was so thoughtful and kind!
As we exited the lifts on the lobby level we heard a loud hum of noise! Follow the noise and you’ll find the bloggers! lol I soon ran into Susie from Head this Way (who I met at the Problogger workshop in Brisbane earlier this year in March) and bid farewell to Lyndall and Shari as Susie and I went to the newbie orientation. It was in the Hydrate Bar and boy there were a lot of people. It was so noisy you had to yell to be heard. Darren was delightful as he welcomed us and filled us in on what we could expect over the next couple of days. We were handed ‘Networking Bingo’ cards which presented a challenge to find people who matched a description – eg ‘Sleeps with their phone’, ‘Has a selfie as a profile picture’, ‘Works for Olympus’ etc. What a great way to help push people to mingle and network! There were also prize incentives! We completed our cards and put them in the barrel. No prizes were won but we had fun nonetheless! I handed out lots of my business cards and received many in return.
At around 4pm’ish all bloggers started to infiltrate the Hydrate Bar for networking. I saw and chatted with some Brisbane bloggers I had met before and met many, many bloggers who I knew online and was meeting IRL for the first time. It was all quite surreal!
Though I had planned to return to my room and shower and change before dinner, it was not to be! At 7pm we moved from the Hydrate Bar on to Kalinda Restaurant for a buffet dinner. We were part of a booking for 40 people! Huge thanks to Karen of This Morley Life for organising this and looking after all us stragglers! More networking, more meeting new bloggers, more exchanges of business cards and some yummy food and wine!
Finally, it was time to return to my room. I barely had any voice left and the conference hadn’t started yet! I loved the afternoon and evening, but the silence in my room was golden and very welcome as I recharged in readiness for the next day!
Key Takeaways from Orientation and Networking
- Bloggers are noisy
- Bloggers are passionate about what they do
- Bloggers are open and friendly
- Network online (at the very least), or even better meet up in person with a local blogger/s who is going, before the event so that you know someone (or some people) who are going to be at the event and can arrange to buddy up and look out for each other
- Darren Rowse really loves what he does! I could feel his excitement for the upcoming two day event and his pride for what he has built with Problogger and the ever growing #PBevent!
- At blogger networking events expect to hear lots of squeals of delight like this “errrmygawd hiiiiiii” as many people meet each other IRL for the first time
- There is a lot of standing at networking events like this so take care to wear comfy shoes!
- One blogger told me that she writes some notes on the back of business cards given to her to remind her of the person who gave it to her. I wish I had done that as I have many business cards with no recollection of the person who gave them to me
Stay tuned for my wrap up and key takeaways from Friday the first official day of #PBevent which will be followed by another post with a wrap up and key takeaways from Saturday, the second official day of #PBevent .
Ciao for now,
Linking up with Grace of With Some Grace for #FYBF