It’s July 31st.  HOW is it the end of July already?  Eeks.  Must.  Go.  Pack.  I’ll be leaving in 10 days for some pre Wine Bloggers Conference fun, and meandering through Oregon experiencing the best of the Willamette with my friend from Fab OC Wine Chick.  Can we say I cannot wait?

But really, the point of my trip to Oregon is to attend the 5th annual Wine Bloggers Conference, where 350+ wine bloggers, food bloggers, travel bloggers, and industry people of all sorts will get together to exchange ideas, get to know each other, and learn from each other.  What a way to spend a weekend!

That said, there are a large amount of WBC Virgins attending this year.  Even those that have attended before have been guilty of not following some of these suggestion below, and have left a…lasting impression.  Here are a few things I have learned from my five conferences.  Five years and five conferences, the event has grown and changed – but most of these tips hold true no matter the size.

  • Get to know your sponsors.  We have a few hours on Friday to learn who has made the event possible; stop by and say hi!  You never know what relationships might form.  I will be there manning the WBC Scholarship table for the first time (YAY!), so if you’ve ever wondered what we’re about, please come talk to us.
  • Attend the keynotes with Rex Pickett and Randall Graham –  The keynotes are a fascinating way to get to know how the wine community thinks of bloggers, and also, how they became who they are.
  • Attend the breakouts –  There is a lot to learn.  Too many people don’t attend the core of the conference and they miss out.  While you need choose which bits are important to you as a blogger, not attending them is just a waste of your time.
  • Spit spit spit.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  Yes, there are moments (dinner, after hours parties) where I don’t spit and enjoy myself, but you are representing bloggers as a whole, and should have some decorum.  It’s a business conference at the core, disguised as a party.  Present yourself accordingly.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Our goodie bags are sure to contain an aluminum water bottle which you can use to fill up at every opportunity.
  • Don’t forget to sleep –  There is nothing worse than a blogger snoring in a session.
  • Enjoy your wine responsibly – no one likes a drunk blogger.  It is embarrassing for others, irresponsible, and sets a bad tone.  Additionally, it is not looked upon favorably by speakers and sponsors when the audience is only half full after a night of partying.  You will miss parts of the conference while sleeping off your hang over!  By all means, enjoy yourself.  I certainly plan to partake.  But if you cannot get your butt int he chair the next morning, please go to Vegas instead.
  • Engage in the spontaneous events – these are the best way to network with your fellow bloggers, writers, and industry professionals.  Going to dinner?  Sure!  Having a beer at a local brewery?  Awesome!
  • Go with the flow, don’t get overwhelmed – Don’t attempt to schedule yourself within an inch of yourlife.  Be prepared to want to do more than one thing at once.  There are always going to be multiple tastings and pop up parties; you can’t attend everything, so don’t even try.
  • Have an open mind –  You never know if there are wines you wouldn’t normally try, sessions that might make you think about something in a different way.  Try something new!
  • Don’t try to control things – Don’t worry about what bus you’rell be on or what winery you’ll be attending.  Even if you end up some place you’ve been 100 times before, just enjoy the experience.  This is not a traditional winery visit and trying to over analyze it will make yourself more miserable.  I know this from personal experience.
  • Bring a piece of yourself – something that represents your region, style, and / or personality.  This could be wine, but it could also be food, a book, or a t-shirt.
  • Bring business cards – Lots and lots of business cards.  Yes it may seem archaic, but it’s the best way to quickly introduce yourself with a memorable item.  The stacks of cards collected are reminders when we get home to follow, tweet, and read other peoples information.
  • Follow the #wbc12 twitter stream – Make sure your twitter account is not protected (my main account is, but I tweet under @luscious_lushes for public consumption).  We want to hear your thoughts!  This is the best way to share with the entire conference at once.
  • Don’t try to blog at the conference – Jot down your thoughts but don’t feel the need to be the blogger with the most posts during the conference.  It’s more important to be engaged than it is to be typing.  Editor’s note:  in previous years, I have said, blog before, during and after the conference; however, I have noticed that some people will be missing key events at the conference for the sake of blogging.  While inspiration can come anywhere at anytime (thank you Tom Wark for the reminder!) my advice is to participate fully.  If you find a golden nugget of thought, by all means flesh it out and post, but don’t hide yourself in the wi-fi matrix the whole time.
  • Find a party to attend – This is a great way to get to know people on a personal level.  Sponsors, wineries, and bloggers all host formal and informal parties during the event.  These will be communicated via twitter, email and facebook so this is a great reason to be active on social media.  Heck, you can be assured that if you just walk the hallways at the host hotel, you will hear where a party is after hours!
  • Turn around and say hello to your neighbor –   Don’t be shy, just say hi!  Many of us know each other online but not in person.  Some of us might know know each other at all.  The WBC is all about community so don’t isolate yourself as this will make for a lonely weekend.  This is a social conference, but you need to be proactive and be social.  Sitting around and complaining that no body asked you to play kickball is not going to make you have a good time.

Here is what I think I will be doing:
Thursday August 16th

Returning from the Salem pre-conference excursion,  the official welcome reception will be hosted by the Oregon Wine Board.  Those who are already in twon will have a chance to get to know their fellow attendees before the madness.  There are also some pop up events in the works.  Join the facebook group to learn more!

Friday, August 17th

  • 10-12 Meet the Sponors – I’ll be there with my WBC Scholarship crew, selling blogger bling ribbons, and meeting the other sponsors.
  • 10-12:20 Argentinian wine pariing walk aroudn lunch – the perefect time to grab some food before the confernece begins.
  • 12:30 – Keynote with Randall Graham
  • 1:20 – Live wine blogging; Speed dating for whites & roses!
  • 2:30 – winery visits!  Wherever you end up, it will be a great afternoon & evnign!
  • 9:30 – back at the hotel, the free form Night of Many Bottles offers you a chance to share your favorite wine, and taste some other favorite that attendees have brought.

Additionally, there are more pop up parties on Friday nigtht!

Saturday, August 18th

  • 9:25 AM Three Blogger-to-Blogger Discussions
  • How Bloggers Influence the Wine World
  • 10:45 AM Breakout Sessions
  • The Winery View of Wine Bloggers
  • 11:45 Lunch at a local brewery nearby
  • 1:15 PM Three Breakout Sessions
  • The Art of Oregon Pinot – A Clonal Tasting
  • 3:35 PM Keynote Speech – Rex Pickett
  • 4:20 PM Live Wine Blogging – Reds
  • 5:20 PM Pre-Dinner Reception with New Wines of Greece
  • 7:00 PM Dinner with King Estate Winery
  • 8:45 PM International Wines Night
  • 10:15 PM Unofficial Post Parties

Sunday, August 19

  • 9:30 AM Q&A with Wine Blog Awards winners who are present
  • 10:30 AM Ignite Wine!
  • 11:15 AM  Preview of 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference

On Sunday I am off to Carlton to taste some more delicious wine and have fun.

Finally, above all have FUN.  Don’t take yourslef too seriously, and engage.  Join a

past blogger bling - we will have some new ones, and some of these, and some others!

conversation, meet new people.  Say hello to random strangers with WBC badges on.  We don’t bite!  Buy blogger bling ribbons, they are a great ice breaker.  What’s a blogger bling ribbon?  They are ribbons that stick on to your name badge.  Some are just silly, some identify you, some show a bit of personality.

See you soon!

If you are a registred attendee of the WBC and you are on Facebook, please join this group. Unofficial WBC 2012 Facebook Group

And, LIKE the official page HERE  Official Wine BLoggers Conference Page

6 thoughts on “How to be a good conference attendee”

  1. I've noticed several vets recommend not trying to blog at the conference. While I understand the intention of trying to de-stress the occasion, I'd argue that that suggestion is merely stylistic. If someone is inspired to blog, they shouldn't feel like it isn't acceptable. If someone can blog AND take in the conference events (everyone is different after all) then why not?

    On the flip side there is the school of thought "strike while the iron is hot". Memory fades and notes are only so valuable when one gets home. With this in mind we might think more of promoting some measure of blogging in hopes of not missing things when they are most visceral.

    I don't see a clear right or wrong way and maybe just wording the suggestion differently might convey the same idea with the absoluteness connotation.

    Jason

    1. Agreed. Please see editor's note on that subject. I have in fact, in the past suggested that people DO blog before, during and after, but I want to discourage people from missing events for the sake of blogging.

  2. Great tips, Thea! Spit spit spit and dump so you can enjoy wine at dinner. Avoid coffee and drink water!

    As someone who has attended all WBC (except Virginia because I was in Oregon!) plus EWBC09 in Lisbon, I've blogged during most conferences I attend–WordPress WordCamps in SF etc, WBC 08, 09, 10 and EWBC 09 etc. I turn my notes into posts and I tweet less.

    However, don't miss out on the conference because you're engaged with social media–blogging or tweeting or otherwise lost on your phone…

    See you in Portland!

    1. NEVER avoid coffee! I think that would be a dangerous thing! However, yes. Drink TONS of water, spit a lot, and drink coffee 😉

      On the second point, please see my editor's note. I agree, turning notes in to posts is great – but I have seen too many people ignore key events for the sake of blogging. Taking NOTES and ideas is key, and I do the same, but as the conference grows, it is more and more challenging to create a well written and worded post while AT the conference. Tweeting is an excellent way to participate IN the conference, but yes. Don't miss the conference because you're too wrapped up in your ipad. And don't miss out on a party because you're ignoring others around you.

      This conference is all about participation – if you skip off and do your own thing you are isolating and will get what you give.

  3. Regarding blogging during the event: Jason, I completely get the whole "strike while the iron is hot" idea, but on the flip side, you’ll miss moments as you hide in a corner to write about past experiences. Capture the moment by being on the front line, meeting as many people as you can, building relationships, taking notes, photographing and creating video of those experiences. The experiences that stick in your mind will make the greatest stories, and you’ll have plenty of time to write about them while you spend an hour at the airport waiting for your plane and during your flight home 😉

    1. Precisely my point Pamela! There is a happy medium – take notes, flesh them out during breaks, or at the airport.

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