I recently went to the Next Blogger Network event in Shoreditch in London, and I’ll be honest, it’s one of the most scary things for me I’ve ever done! The week leading up to the event was spent either putting it to the back of my mind and pretending it wasn’t happening, or feeling so worried I got a massive ulcer on the inside of my cheek! However, I knew once I’d forked out the money for the train fare, I would have to go, so I went ahead and did that first so I couldn’t change my mind! In the end, I feel it was a very successful day and I’ve come away from the event feeling very proud of myself and ready to go out and find another blogging event to go to! Here’s how I managed it…..
In the days leading up to the event, the nervousness never really went away; but the downright terrified-ness did! I thought I was going to get there and turn around at the door and spend the day shopping instead. The thought of that was far more appealing! However there was a major turning point when I listened to the ‘Let’s Discuss’ podcast with an interview of Chloe Watts from Chloe Digital – a web design company for fashion bloggers. In it, Chloe talks about overcoming fear, and honestly, I found it so inspiring, I listened to it three times over to keep that feeling going! I know I’ll listen to it again if I find myself facing a scary situation because it left me feeling like an empowered strong woman that’s capable of doing anything if she puts her mind to it! I highly recommend you take a listen.
The other thing that really helped is that I did my homework so I was as prepared as I possibly could be. I didn’t know the names of the other bloggers who were going to be there, but I did know who the guests were going to be – that is how I discovered that podcast in the first place. Monica Beatrice Welburn from The Elgin Avenue was going be there talking about photography. So I went to her website to find out as much as I could about her. I found her podcast and listened to a couple of those. It also turned out that Chloe Watts was actually going to be there too. Her website is for a business, not a personal blog, so it was a bit more difficult, but I after a quick google, I found another podcast in which she was interviewed, so after a listen to that too, I felt like I knew her a little better.
Niomi Smart was going to be there, and I knew who she was and have watched a couple of her videos when they’ve cropped up as suggestions. She seems really nice and I like her, but she’s a lot younger than me and as her focus is often on healthy eating and exercise, I’ll be honest, I don’t find I relate so well to her! None-the-less, I went to her YouTube channel to see what she’s been up to lately, just in case I needed to know!
Lily Pebbles and Anna Newton from The Anna Edit were the other two guests, and no extra stalking was needed in this case as I already watch all their videos! So armed with all this information, I imagined scenarios where I might end up speaking to any of them, and what I could say; how I could connect with them without sounding like a desperate tiny blogger wriggling my way in in the hope of a leg-up in this competitive blogging world. All I would ever hope for though, was just not to look or say something stupid and make a fool of myself. If I managed that, then any conversation would be a success!
As it turned out, I was too shy to go up to any of them and say something, but I was happy in the knowledge that if I had ended up accidentally standing next to one of them, I would know what to say! And actually that did happen, and it was one of those chances that I’m very grateful for because it left me on a high for days! It just so happened that I got my coat on at the same time to leave as Anna and Lily. I tried saying something then by the coat rail, but they didn’t realise, and I ended up mumbling something to the back of Lily’s head while she looked for her umbrella. Someone standing nearby noticed what happened and smiled sympathetically. So embarrassing. Well, I was leaving, so it didn’t matter; I could cry on the train. And then I found myself waiting by the lifts at the same time as them. When the doors opened, I hesitated for a second. The polite thing to do would be to let two friends get in together so they could chat in private while I waited for the next one; but then I thought Chloe wouldn’t do that. Chloe would conquor her fear, get in there and have their phone numbers by the time they’d reach the ground floor.
Of course it didn’t go that far, but I did ask for a selfie, for which they were kind enough to oblige; and went on to ask about my blog and my bag. And then I suddenly couldn’t stop talking really fast and then I blurted out how I loved a couple of their recent videos I named, and then sort-of ran away. Yes! I did it! And I have the photo to prove it! (Because of course if there isn’t a photo on Facebook, it didn’t happen.) (And now all I’m imagining is how they’re going to look up my blog and find me on YouTube and really like me and want to be my friend.)
I feel like this blog post is getting a bit rambly now and I should rein it in and continue with my tips on how to handle a blogger event if you’re shy:
I also went armed with a few generic questions up my sleeve: Have you travelled far to be here today? Is there a blogging community in (insert county/city)? Have you been to many blogging events? How do they compare to this one? What’s the name of your blog? What is your blog about? (And then I had some follow-up questions ready for the various likely answers, such as fashion, beauty, lifestyle, parenting…) Are you working on a particular post at the moment? How long have you been blogging? Do you have a YouTube channel? Do you watch Lily/Anna/Niomi on YouTube? Have you heard the At Home With podcast? Whose are your favourite blogs to read? – I’m looking for new ones. Are you on Instagram? Do you find it difficult to keep up with all the social media involved with blogging?
I actually wrote these questions down in a little notebook and memorised them on the train journey so that I’d be unlikely to look like a rabbit caught in headlights when a conversational situation arose. (Feel free to copy my questions! If we ever meet at a blogging event we can say the same things to each other!)
These are the sort of questions I knew I was likely to be asked as well, so I also had my own answers prepared. Thinking on the spot is not my strong point, and I was totally caught out when people asked me what my blog was about at the Mumsnet thing I went to last year. Completely stupid I know, but I just didn’t know what to say! So this time I was prepared with a two-sentence answer that took me a long time to perfect. I hope it sounds friendly; not too pitch-y, but interesting enough that they might want to actually take a look at it. It goes like this: ‘It’s called When I Grow Up, so the idea is I’m trying out different things and blogging about them while I decide what to do when I grow up. So it’s basically a lifestyle blog with fashion, travel and things like that, with a bit of a creative edge with photography and artist interviews too. How about yours?’
I hope if you met me at the Next Blogger Network event you don’t now feel that our conversations were false or contrived. These are all things I want to say; I genuinely want to meet and talk to new people, but unfortunately this is the only way I can manage to do it.
Along with all the podcast and YouTube research on the special guests before the event, I also thought I’d arm myself with as many techniques to feel as confident as I could. So whilst working, I listened to several videos about how to stop shyness
How to make people like you, and others from the Charisma on Command channel; along with any random video that was suggested to me on the same topics. I’m basically majorly out of practice with socialising and needed all the help I could get. I think they worked, and helped me have the confidence to walk through those doors rather than go shopping.
I still felt a lurch of fear as I stepped into the room and everyone was already talking to each other; so I made a bee-line for the manicure queue. Luckily there, I managed to strike up conversation with the person in front who was also on her own. My attempts weren’t always successful; there were a couple of people who made it clear they weren’t interested (or perhaps they were even more shy than me); but actually I was successful, because I had the courage to make the attempt in the first place. There were also a couple of times I felt stuck; so I fiddled about on the Flatlay table on on my own for while, hoping that someone would join me. They didn’t, so I went outside on the balcony on my own, with the handy convenience of needing to do a bit of vlogging for my YouTube channel, so I didn’t look too much like Billy No-mates.
Then when other people came out, they were pretty much forced to talk to me, and all was well again! There was an atmosphere of friendliness and openness and I spent a long time talking to the lovely Sarah from Extraordinary Chaos, and Mandy from Mummy’s Magical Mayhem; along with meeting several other bloggers.
And lastly (and I wasn’t sure whether to add this one, but in the interests of honesty I decided to) well, far be if for me to be the person to advocate drinking, but we’re all adults here, and we all know that a glass or two of something alcoholic helps us feel more relaxed and likely to talk comfortably. At future events I know for me, it might well be a good idea to accept that glass of sparkly as I walk in the door, however if you know you have an addictive personality or go to these events often, this probably isn’t the strategy for you! I hardly ever drink (particularly at the moment when I’d rather use my SW syns on chocolate), and I had been too nervous to eat anything; so all it took was one tiny glass of prosecco and a mojito a couple of hours later, and I felt relaxed enough to walk around and start conversations with several strangers. Not an ideal tool I know, but I’m responsible, and let’s be honest here, it really does help!
This was my first blogging event like this, so I don’t know how it compares to others, but I had a really enjoyable day, and it was wonderful to listen to the guest panel; get instagram advice from Monica, and generally chat to other people who know what it is you actually do! So if you’ve got the opportunity to go to something like this, I really would recommend you bite the bullet and just do it! Give yourself a self-affirmation mantra in the days leading up to the event, such as: ‘I know I have the courage to go to this and have the confidence to talk to people.’ Say it over and over and mean it. Try some of the things I did to help myself along with the day, and please let me know if you’re shy, but overcame it. Let’s share more tips in the comments. 🙂
Bettye L RainwaterNovember 29, 2018
Oh my gosh you sound exactly like me! I love networking-type events in theory, but in reality they scare the crap out of me!!! I was hysterical reading the bit about you mumbling into the back of Lilly Pebble’s head and the other person seeing you, I can totally see it happening and feel how that would have felt! And I do the same thing practicing “conversation starters,” ha ha.
That said, I really wish there more events like that near me. As anxious as they make me, I’d still like to go!
HelenNovember 29, 2018
Hi Bettye, It’s so annoying isn’t it when you’re completely torn with really wanting to do something, but also really wanting to hide at the same time!! I wish there were more events near me too, because I think the more I do them, eventually the easier it will become, and in the mean time, I’m starting to be better at caring less what other people think of me, so hopefully it will be easier to handle when I make a fool of myself!