As I sit at my desk writing this blog, my mind wanders to 2014 when I attended my first International Food Bloggers Conference. It was held in Seattle, which is a mere two hour flight from my home in Juneau, Alaska. I was excited to attend and I remember a bit nervous as well.
I had been blogging for several years, but mostly for friends and families. Although I was fortunate to have my blog picked up by the Capital City Weekly, which is a weekly paper distributed throughout Southeast Alaska, I hadn’t really found my place in the blogger world. I also had no idea how many people, mostly women, blogged. There are a lot. I mean a whole lot. The conference itself had about 400 attendees. I can only imagine how many bloggers there are who didn’t attend. I would dare to say somewhere in the thousands.
From my previous conferences I learned a few things:
- Take an extra suitcase for all the cool swag the sponsors provide. They are really nice people and are eager to share their products with us.
Only take what really interests you. My husband and I live in a 390 square foot apartment. This does not offer a lot room for storing said swag. Be selective. For example, I brought home chia seeds, paella broth, chips, etc. All these things at the time were wonderful, but my second suitcase just barely made it under the 50 pound limit and to be honest, a lot of those items I didn’t even use. So far, I’ve kept a really cool cutting board from Sabra, some awesome wooden spoons, and a fantastic paring knife. This year, I’m taking an extra suitcase, but it will be my smaller one so that I don’t go overboard.
- Say thank you. At the gala event many of the people who are serving the delicious treats are either the chefs or key people from their kitchen staff. They love to hear your feedback and enjoy answering questions. I may not go to every station, but I do try to say thank you for being there and for giving me great ideas for my own recipes.
- Take notes! Oh my gosh, take lots of notes. I got home last year and was so thankful that not only did I have some great typed notes on my laptop, but I also had some wonderful notes that were handwritten. I’ve referred to them several times.
- Not going to lie, this one is hard for me. Most people think I’m really outgoing and comfortable in crowds. I’m just the opposite. I go to the event to learn and hopefully meet people, but I’m usually alone. I’d love to make new friends, exchange cards, and have someone to dine with. If you see a short girl with reddish hair standing all alone, that might be me. Please say hi! I’m actually friendly, just crowd shy.
- Think beyond the food. The thing that I am most interested in this year is that although the agenda
is packed with great food and wine, there is so much more to the culinary industry. I go to the conference with the goal of what can I learn to incorporate into my business and blog? Last year Kim Severson of the New York Times said “If you’re not composing, you’re composting.” True words that have helped me work on becoming a better writer.
These are just a few things I’ve learned from IFBC. I cannot wait to attend this week to add to the list.
I look forward to tasting great food, learning from wonderful speakers, and hopefully making new friends.