A couple of weeks I attended Britmums Live for the first time. I had a wonderful weekend and had so much to say that I decided to split it into a few different post. You can read my first post here: 25 things I learned at Britmums.
Today though I’m sharing my top tips for attending Britmums Live.
1. Travel with friends if you can
I was lucky enough to travel down to London with a group of lovely North West Bloggers – it was quite possibly the most relaxing journey to London I’ve ever taken! In part because Pippa had booked everything (saving us a fortune on a group booking) and I didn’t have to think about anything – thanks for that Pippa! We were able to share a taxi to the hotel for less than the cost of the tube and it was just really lovely to have company to ease any nerves.
2. Book your hotel for two nights
If you can manage it I would fully recommend staying at your hotel for two nights. We stayed at a local Premier Inn which was within comfortable walking distance of The Brewery and cost us around £120 each for two nights. Staying that second night made a world of difference as it meant we didn’t have to rush about packing our bags up in the morning, dragging them to Britmums with us or worry about dashing off to catch a train at the end of the event. (I was surprised how many people actually left before the end of the conference to catch trains etc). We were able to spend a really lovely, relaxed evening in the hotel restaurant on the Saturday night. We enjoyed a few drinks (actual gin for me! What a treat!), some food and a good old chat about the weekend before going to bed.. It was a real pleasure and something I will definitely look to do again next year.
3. Plan but don’t be rule bound
I had a quick look at the conference schedule the night before (ever organised!) and made a quick note of talks I wanted to attend but I was determined to be relaxed about things. I didn’t want to be rushing around and stressing myself out. I rather feel that the more you plan your time at an event like this the more likely things are to go wrong and you’ll just end up being frustrated. Better to go with the flow and see what happens. This also goes for your evenings – we intentionally left our plans vague so we could just how we were all feeling at the time. With a new baby and a recently operated on tummy to consider we didn’t want the pressure of feeling we had to be anywhere.
4. Don’t feel you have to go to everything
It’s tempting to feel you need to plan out every moment of the conference – to work your way through the entire timetable planning which talks you want to attend and organising everything with everyone. You may well find that not every talk is relevant to you and in my opinion if that’s the case you’re better missing you, giving yourself time to think, to be sociable. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by everything that’s going on. I intentionally planned in gaps in my day, times where I missed a talk in favour of chatting with friends instead.
5. Be prepared to sit on the floor!
I spent a substantial part of the conference sat on the floor as a number of the talks I attended were really very popular! Luckily I wasn’t too uncomfortable and had some great company in Debs, Emma and Elisa. I found I was most comfortable if I managed to get myself sat against a wall. Of course it would be easy to say “Just get to talks early” but the timetable often didn’t allow for time to get between talks, particularly if the previous one you were attending over ran by a minute or two.
6. Don’t be afraid to check people’s name badges
Seriously. You won’t recognise or remember everyone no matter how often you speak to them online. Nobody is going to be offended if they catch you checking their name badge – that’s what they’re for after all. There will be people you’ve never heard of, people who know you but you don’t know them (akward) and equally people who you’re aware of who have never heard of you. It doesn’t really matter. Everyone is there for the same reason and more than happy to chat. Just stick a smile on your face and don’t assume people will recognise you! (You can always take the tack of Dave who tweeted me to ask me what I was wearing . . . he thought he’d seen me but wanted to be sure before he came to speak to me!)
7. Don’t just stick within your group, be brave & talk to other people!
As I’ve already mentioned I was luck enough to have travelled and be staying with a lovely bunch of bloggers who I (mostly) know very well. This didn’t mean we were stuck to each other like glue though. We each attended different talks, spent time with other people and just checked in on each other occasionally. We tended to sit in the same place in the main room so we knew we’d always find each other again for keynotes etc. If we’d remained in our safe, insular group I’d have never met half the people I did and my conference experience would have been wholly different.
8. Take photos. Take notes. Tweet.
You will be spending a lot of weekend on your phone. I was really shocked when I first attended a blog conference to see everyone attached to their phones and tablets. I’ve since got used to the fact that, in this situation it’s not only is it socially acceptable to tweet and take photos while someone is talking, it’s actually expected. I made lots of notes on my phone (using Google Keep) and also took photos of slides – I need to go back through them all at some point and make some to do lists!
9. Be prepared
I packed two phones, two power banks, Dave’s tablet (I’m going to get one of my own later this year!) and Jonny (my DSLR). I think this counts as prepared right? As it was I only really used one of my phones as I had taken the spare one for video and didn’t get round to it. I didn’t use my camera as much as I had expected either however the power banks were a life saver. You will never get through a full day at a blog conference without a power bank – between using Google Maps to find your way there and the constant taking of photos, tweeting, instagramming, sharing on facebook etc etc etc. Your phone battery is going to take a serious hammering. I loved my new Trendz one, it’s so pretty!
10. Remember to take clean knickers!
So whilst we’re talking about being prepared . . . yes, I was the one who remembered everything but clean pants. Honestly. You wouldn’t think I was an actual grown up with three small children to be responsible for you would you!?
So there you go – my top 10 tips for attending Britmums . . . I could go on forever but I think ten will do!!