I was a Newbie at BlogHer 2014

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#BTE #BlogHer2014 – @SandraKohlmann, me, @WriteousBabe, @WillieshaMorris, @ForceExpansive, @Blueprint4Style, and @OfficialShootie

The last time I stood at the San Jose Convention Center was four years ago on a stretch assignment in trade shows and exhibits for a Fortune 30 manufacturing company.  Despite the good intentions and great mentoring from my executive sponsor, I felt out of place at the office and on that trade show floor.  No one looked like me or outwardly valued the same things I did.  I left that job not long after and another, then took a leap of faith by stepping off from work, and wandered a bit.

In the days prior to BlogHer 2014, I’d been whispering to my friends about how nervous I was to attend.  Then last Friday, I returned to the San Jose Convention Center and as I walked in the familiar physical space, I felt a bit of sadness from my former job.  I’ve only been blogging for a few months.  Yeah, I fully own that I’m a professionally trained writer, and these women publish regularly AND have followers.  No, they have passionate armies at their fingertips.  I pulled on the glass door to the registration hall and remembered how it felt to be an outsider.

When I sat down at the Pathfinder breakfast, the women of BlogHer 2014 welcomed me with warm smiles — as if I had been long lost — and they asked where I had been all of these years.

Over the next few days, many women continued asking about my story, something I had written and rewritten for years but as my words left my throat again and again — I learned about myself and being myself.  And these women listened.  They got it, like, not just polite nodding, I could see it in their eyes, they got me.  I met these women (see above) and in minutes, our collective energy at the front table was strong and positive enough to catch the attention of Richelle Parham (CMO of eBay North America, @RichelleParham) while she spoke on-stage.

#BestTableEver at BlogHer 2014
Our table unanimously agreed this was our hashtag! #BTE!  How could Richelle NOT notice us?

I met thoughtful women who speak their mind and they care.  A lot.  BlogHer women believe in civil disagreement.  They believe in keeping the conversation going.  They are creative and they iterate on ideas.  They’re friendly.

@sherilynwrites
Lisa Stone (President of BlogHer, @LisaStone) and me at BlogHer’s Newbie Breakfast

They asked point blank questions about technology, culture, policy, politics, innovation, publication, and blog monetization.  Everyone was there to figure out blogging and social networking – no one was an expert.  When I ran into new friends later in the conference, they offered introductions and to others on a similar path.  Giving, sharing, giving, sharing.  I offered my help too.  BlogHer women ask everyone to have a point of view, jump in, step up now, and be who you really are because the world needs you.

Yesterday, I left the San Jose Convention Center fortified with the smarts, fellowship, and business cards from my new BlogHer family.  Today I’m back here alone at the page plotting my own revolution but if or when I need anything, anything at all, this force of sisterhood is just a few keystrokes and click away.  Yes, I will return to the BlogHer conference and in some ways, I will never leave.

22 Comments

    1. Kim – it was fabulous! I couldn’t get over how friendly everyone was, in spite of my tendency to be shy (in large groups). Even though we were writing about different things, the default mode of listening was, “I hear this woman’s story, how can I help her? Who do I know? What book should she read? Can I connect her to someone?” I learned quite a bit at BlogHer, will be posting about that in the next week or so.

      1. Well Sherilyn, you know I share that same shy instinct. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the community. Can’t wait to get your help extending the same warm welcome 🙂

    1. I kept saying, “Okay, if nothing else happens, I could leave this conference happy. I got my money’s worth.” AND THEN I met you and the rest of BTE! Being in community, even in the rare moments when our table was quiet, well — there was a special energy at our table. I am so grateful to have been a part of it.

    1. #BTFE 2.0 wouldn’t have happened without you standing way in front of the line. Thank you, Williesha, for keeping us together.

  1. YES, #BFTE! I loved meeting you and TRULY the highlight of the trip for me was our time together at breakfast and lunch on Day 2, once I was jumped in to the girlgang with you excellent smart creative kick-ass women. Here’s to conquering the same space next year!! xo

  2. Love that you went and your time was great! Working with BlogHer in itself has been an amazing experience for me! Next year, I am making a pinky promise to myself to go! Here’s to more newbies at BlogHer, You and every other amazing woman in our blogosphere!

  3. I’m so glad I met you! I knew we were kindred spirits when I looked to my right during my sprint to the front row and noticed there was someone else crazy enough to actually flat out run to get a good seat. #BTE

    1. Javacia, have you considered trying out for roller derby? You know what you want, you’re unafraid, you can sprint…just sayin’. 😉

  4. Hi Sherilyn – great blog post! You really articulated so much of what many of us newbies felt and experienced. I was at your table at the newbie breakfast, by the way, so it was fun to read this and get to know you a little bit better!

  5. Wow, that is totally awesome! I was a newbie at this conference too and while I had a great time, I didn’t feel the same welcome that you did. I felt very alone for most of the conference, despite a few good conversations. I’m did get a ton of business cards so I’m hoping to make some online connections now. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi, Bonnie – Hooray for the ton of business cards! You put yourself out there and our fellow attendees wanted to learn more from you. This is such a good beginning – can’t wait to see what you create with these important seeds!

    1. It was wonderful to meet you! You seemed to be at every turn, whether it was us in conversation, or I’d see you talking with other attendees. Loved having your energy in my orbit. XO

  6. Sherilyn! I met you for only a brief moment, but you absolutely radiated and you have an amazing smile, I just have to tell you! I’m so happy to have gotten your business card. To find another Sherilyn/Cherylyn in the sea of beautiful faces was very awesome to me. It was my first BlogHer as well, and as I was representing a brand, I was a bit nervous that nobody would want to talk to me. I found the same things you did though. Everyone was incredibly interested and interesting! I loved absolutely every person I met and your post definitely resonates how I felt about all the new friends I made as well.

    1. Cherylyn – I am so delighted that you pulled me in to The Sisterhood with One Awesome Name! 🙂 It was delightful meeting you. I think BlogHer women are also pragmatic in the sense that, yes, there are people like you who are working at the conference to make a living but they are wise enough to know that there is a heart that beats underneath.

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