Like many bloggers, I’m getting ready to attend BlogHer in my native habitat of NYC. Looking through the Twitter stream for the conference, you would think that all BlogHer is about is parties, private and otherwise, and swag. If you have been to a BlogHer before, you know that’s not really the case. But if you haven’t gone before, you might think this to be true. I am here to tell you that it is oh so not.
Back in 2007, I attended my first BlogHer in Chicago as a blogger and a sponsor, as my company had a table in the 15 table “exhibit hall”. As a seasoned marketer, I had many conferences under my belt. But as a blogger, I was a complete and total newbie. I was insecure, anxious and a bit neurotic. More than usual. I felt like I didn’t belong, that my tribe wasn’t in the house, and did everything I could to psych myself out.
I remember being in the rather large ballroom at Navy Pier, looking for a place to sit feeling just like that girl in junior high school who couldn’t find any friends in the lunchroom. I started to stress, and that’s when someone gestured to the seat next to her. She was inviting me to sit next to her. A welcome gesture at a moment where I really needed it.
We began talking, and that was how I met Susan Niebur. It was a friendship that continued to be carried out over the interwebs and at the subsequent BlogHers we attended. She taught me that there is nothing more powerful than the bonds that we create between us. She gave me the courage to set forth at the conference and do amazing things. I will be forever grateful for the kindness she showed me then.
I feel genuinely sorry for all the bloggers coming to NYC thinking that they are not a success if they don’t get that invite to the exclusive private party or get the biggest bag of swag. I wish my blog was long enough to list all the women who I met in the first years of BlogHer who I am so honored to call friends – Susan E, Devra, Shannon, Stimey, Cecily, oh…I could go on and on…
This year, our dear Susan will be very much on our minds. She will be remembered by many and featured as a Voice of the Year, something that she was able to participate in 2 years ago. But there is something every one of us can do in her memory.
This year, if you are going to be at BlogHer, do me a solid, will you? Carry on the amazing spirit that Susan brought to our community by reaching out to a new comer. Smile at someone you don’t know. Make the effort to help someone who is feeling out of place welcome. Because that is what BlogHer is about – community and friendship. Remember the woman who reached out to others to make them feel welcome, and do the same for someone else. You’ll be doing as much for yourself as someone else, and who knows? You might make a new friend and it will do a heck of a lot more for your self-worth than any piece of swag will.