Problogger Event 2015: Orientation and Networking

August 21, 2015
networking event, event, networking, champagne

networking event, event, networking, champagne

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.

hotel room, racv royal pines, gold coast

view, outlook, hotel room, racv royal pines resort, gold coast, australia

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

  1. Bloggers are noisy
  2. Bloggers are passionate about what they do
  3. Bloggers are open and friendly
  4. 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
  5. 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!
  6. 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
  7. There is a lot of standing at networking events like this so take care to wear comfy shoes!
  8. 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,

Min-Signature

Linking up with Grace of With Some Grace for #FYBF

and with Sonia of Life Love and Hiccups, Bron of Maxabella Loves and Kelly of A Life Less Frantic for #WeekendRewind

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44 Comments

  • Reply Nicole @ The Builders Wife August 21, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Great post Min, it was so noisy and so busy, I felt so uncomfortable a few times, but when I had the courage to look up there was always someone smiling and making me feel comfortable. Bloggers are a friendly bunch xx

    • Reply Min August 21, 2015 at 10:37 am

      Thanks Nicole! The crowds and noise levels was way out of my comfort zone but I managed better than I had expected. It was lovely to meet you! Shame we didn’t get opportunity for any lengthy conversation. Hopefully next time! xo

  • Reply Lyndall August 21, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Hi Min, I’m so pleased I was able to help you find your feet at Problogger. It can certainly be daunting the first time, particularly for introverts! It was a wonderful conference again this year, and I’m so happy to hear you gained a great deal out of it. Cheers! 🙂

    • Reply Min August 21, 2015 at 10:39 am

      You were a lifesaver Lyndall – particularly on that first day! I really appreciated the effort you went to to check that I was AOK. Despite my nerves I really did enjoy the event and would love to go again if finances will allow! 🙂

  • Reply Susie | Head This Way August 21, 2015 at 8:58 am

    This post perfectly describes how I felt as well Min – my first ProBlogger as well! I can’t believe we found each other so quickly in the sea of people – meant to be of course. I too loved how friendly and open the other bloggers were – it was an awesome experience and I’ll definitely be there next year xx

    • Reply Min August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

      I was so relieved to see you appear before my face Susie – just in time for orientation! Meant to be! It was a wonderful experience that went by all too quickly. I’d certainly like to go again next year – if I can afford it! xo

  • Reply Ai Sakura August 21, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I’m glad you had a great networking session. I went for my first PBEvent last year and it was my first bloggers conference, ever. Kinda overwhelming but very helpful. Look forward to the rest of your posts!

    • Reply Min August 21, 2015 at 10:43 am

      It sure is a bit overwhelming when you first experience it. Maybe even on 2nd or 3rd times – who knows?! I’ll be better prepared for what to expect if I go again. Many people have summed up their experience and key takeaways in just one post. It would be a very lengthy one post from me if I were to do it that way – so a few posts is the way to go for me! 🙂 x

  • Reply Caroline@Mamma Raj Says August 21, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Oh I wish I could have made it this year to meet you and all the other bloggers…next year when the baby is bigger. It is good to read that there is a newbie orientation. With 700 bloggers it is a little scary to know what to do. Hope you had a great time and really enjoyed reading your post. The idea of the notes on the business card is gold!

    • Reply Min August 21, 2015 at 10:45 am

      Caroline – there should be enough #PBevent posts for you to read that you’ll feel like you were there and you’ll also pick up some great tips and bits of inspiration! I’m glad you enjoyed this post. More to come from me. I simply couldn’t sum it all up in one post! lol x

  • Reply Haidee August 21, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I’m so glad to read this because I’ve been thinking of saving up to go next year but was terrified of the networking side of it as I would totally do what you did and run back to my room terrified! I would need to touch base with a few peeps prior to meet up with or I will totally freak out at being alone with so many people as I get shy in social situations like that until I establish myself with a group 🙂 Good on you for feeling the fear and doing it anyway!

    • Reply Min August 21, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      You’d be fine Haidee! If I can do it, you can! The trick is to connect with at least one other blogger beforehand so that you can have a #PBevent buddy and not be alone. 🙂

  • Reply Fairlie August 21, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    This is a great summary of that first day experience…and it definitely resonates with me! As a newbie who knew no-one in real life prior to attending, I was blown away by how approachable and friendly all the other attendees were – but I agree, it takes nerves of steel to do that walk into a room on your own. I was really lucky that in the day prior I found out one of the bloggers who I regularly communicate with was regretting her plan to drive down and back from Brisbane each day – and I invited her to share my twin room. Such a great decision…as it gave me a buddy to walk into rooms with. That would be my biggest piece of advice to any newbies next year – to pre-arrange a hand-holding buddy for that first day. It just makes the whole experience so much more fun and less stressful! Looking forward to your followup posts! (Came here via #FYBF)

    • Reply Min August 21, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      Hi Fairlie! It sure does require nerves of steel to walk into something like this alone! I’m so glad I found some buddies early on because it made a huge difference. Pleased to hear you had a buddy too! Shame we didn’t meet but I’m not surprised as there were soooo many people!

  • Reply Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life August 21, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    I remember finding it funny just how loud bloggers were…after all, most bloggers are introverted and it certainly doesn’t seem that way when you are at ProBlogger. Glad you were able to get yourself to the networking and orientation event. I’m hoping I can afford to go next year but we’ll have to wait and see.

    • Reply Min August 22, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      I suppose there were a lot of them so the combined noise of their chatter would have contributed to the noise factor! 😉 I’d love to go again next year but it is all dependent on whether I can afford to or not!

  • Reply Denyse August 21, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    So great to read this post & know that it was a challenge for you even before you went.. But you did & this is so good. Loved reading this.. I know it’s very overwhelming at these kind of events especially when you are alone but once you find at least 1 buddy – as you did..it is cool! Bloggers meeting up is a classic because you already know much about each other from reading blogs so sometimes you get to move right on from the small talk! Denyse x

    • Reply Min August 22, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      I was wondering what on earth I was doing the day before Denyse – major anxiety. However, I did it and though it was overwhelming at times it was very enjoyable to meet so many people IRL that I knew online. So surreal and as you say – weird because you know so much about these people before you meet them! 😉 xo

  • Reply Kirsty @ My Home Truths August 21, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    It was so deafening in that bar on Thursday afternoon/evening! I wish I had’ve seen you there Min but so pleased we did get the chance to catch up later on. And I agree, Lyndall is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met – such a genuine, beautiful soul.

    Looking forward to reading your other posts on your experience at pbevent. Hoping to meet you again next year!

    • Reply Min August 22, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      It sure was deafening in that bar. My throat was in shock after that night! lol I was so glad to have met you Kirsty. Shame we didn’t get to have a proper lengthy chat but it wasn’t to be. Maybe next time! Oh yes Lyndall is kindness personified – so genuine!! I hope your knee heals up quickly for you post surgery. Thinking of you!

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee August 22, 2015 at 5:30 am

    Glad you had fun!! The resort looks nice too….(like the business card idea – but I doubt I’d remember to do it!)

    • Reply Min August 22, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      I sure did have fun Lydia. So much so I think I am still recovering!! lol It was a fabulous venue and the staff there went above and beyond!

  • Reply Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid August 22, 2015 at 8:20 am

    I went to the Sydney ProBlogger event earlier in the year so I was prepared for the noise, but the people! Wowzers! The place was packed, which makes it even more miraculous that we found each other. It was great to finally meet you in real life and I’m looking forward to checking out your follow up Problogger posts! x

    • Reply Min August 22, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      I went to the Brisbane ProBlogger event in March but I still wasn’t prepared for the noise levels! LOL It was one of my highlights to meet you Sammie. You didn’t disappoint at all – you were just as I imagined + more! Wish we’d had time and opportunity to curl up on a comfy lounge with a cuppa and have a good long chat! xo

  • Reply Pinky Poinker August 22, 2015 at 9:49 am

    I wish I’d taken more photos! And met more people… like you!

    • Reply Min August 22, 2015 at 3:00 pm

      I forgot to take photo’s too! I didn’t take my camera but I did have my phone! I would have loved to meet you – so bummed it didn’t happen – maybe the next one?! xo

  • Reply Janet aka Middle Aged Mama August 22, 2015 at 10:32 am

    The networking bingo sounds like a great idea!!!! I met Lyndall (Seize the Day Project) IRL at the Brissie Bloggers Meetup at the Greek Club the week before PBEvent – she is just lovely isn’t she!

    • Reply Min August 22, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      The networking bingo was fun Janet and really got people mingling! Lyndall is one in a million – love it when I meet someone who is kind and genuine like her! xo

  • Reply Ingrid @ Fabulous and Fun Life August 22, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Networking even in small groups is out of my comfort zone, amongst 700 excitable bloggers would have terrified me but I do wish I could have attended ProBlogger even so. Maybe next year I’ll be lucky enough to attend!

    • Reply Min August 22, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      Haha – I know exactly what you mean Ingrid! I’m not a networker – I go quiet and freeze up. I did the best I could and hopefully didn’t make too much of a dill of myself. I managed much better than I had expected. It was adrenaline I think! lol If I can do it you can! Hope to see you there next year! 🙂 x

  • Reply Vanessa August 22, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    I feel like the group I was with *may* have contributed to number one on your key takeaways list haha

    • Reply Min August 22, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      You know I thought that was the case Ness!! I was just being kind not outting you! 😉 LOL p.s. how did we not meet??

  • Reply jess August 24, 2015 at 8:41 am

    I loved this post! I actually prefer this detail on what actually goes on at PB, instead of the ‘what I’ve learned’ posts. Makes me feel like I was there (and scares the introvert in me!). Glad you found your feet.

    • Reply Min August 24, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post Jess! It’s not all that scary if you have a friend to keep you company! 🙂

  • Reply Toni @ Finding Myself Young August 24, 2015 at 9:57 am

    I wish we had’ve caught up with you more over the weekend Min. Cate and I nearly ran for the lifts as soon as the talking started because it was SO LOUD.

    • Reply Min August 24, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      I know – me too Toni! I walked around like a stunned mullet for most of the event. I felt like I was outside my body looking on at times. It was all a bit surreal for this first-timer! I do wish I’d had the time and opportunity to have had more in-depth chats with the people that I met!

  • Reply Ness August 24, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    OMG it sounds bloody overwhelming! Somebody like me would fade into the furniture. Well done for getting there and surviving as an introvert! You definitely deserve that applause xo

    • Reply Min August 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      Ness – I DID fade into the furniture and that was ok with me. I can’t stand any attention on me. You’d be fine! The key is to have a buddy. If you’ve got a buddy to hang out with than all is AOK! 🙂 xo

  • Reply Mrs W August 24, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    That’s a very useful wrap up from a newbie’s perspective. I’ve never been to a blogging event before, and I’m not sure I could do it! Like you (and many others), I feel soooo uncomfortable when in a situation where I’m alone and know no-one. Good on you for taking the leap!

    • Reply Min August 25, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      I’m so glad you found it useful! I think sometimes we can surprise ourselves by what we can do if we want it bad enough. I also think it is good to stretch our comfort zone bubble now and then or we get a bit stagnant and don’t grow. I’ve learnt stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise and I’ve met some fabulous people that I wouldn’t have otherwise AND I faced a fear! I’m sure you could do this too! 😉 xo

  • Reply Grace August 25, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    So glad you had a great time, Min! I was checking out my IG and FB feed the entire weekend! Love how Lyndall and Shari took you under their wing on the first day. I love Shari – such a good egg, that one! x

    • Reply Min August 26, 2015 at 11:18 am

      It was an amazing experience Grace and yes thank goodness for Lyndall and Shari for taking me under their wing on that first day! Sadly, I didn’t get opportunity to sit and chat at any length with either of them (or anyone really) but hope to get to know them better with time! p.s. it’s usually me following it all over IG, FB & Twitter!! 😉 x

  • Reply PatrickC September 6, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing all of that Min, especially the raw honesty of your concerns and anxiety. That’s really brave and also inspiring for those of us who feel the same. It inspires us to know that we can also do it. I loved the photos, especially the one of the view out of the curtain framed windows and the one of you relaxed watching T.V.

    • Reply Min September 7, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks Patrick! There are many people out there with similar anxieties as me so I wanted to let them know that if I can do this they can too. I’m glad you liked the photo’s. They’re all just phone snaps. I didn’t take my camera!

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