Back in 2010 I was very new to blogging. I started Raising My Boys in the summer of 2009 (well, I actually started in 2006, but that turned out to be a bit of a joke) and by the summer of 2010 I had made a number of great connections through my blog and Twitter. And everyone was talking about Blissdom Canada. This would be the first time the fabulous US social media conference would come to Canada, and the first conference of its kind in our nation.
Should I go? Everyone I knew and admired seemed to be going. Was I too new? How could I contribute? Could I afford it? I hemmed and hawed for a couple of months. Then one day in August (I think) I decided "to heck with it!" and went ahead and registered.
I immediately knew I'd made the right decision. It just felt so right, and I jumped right in to start participating in the online discussions leading up to the big event. Everyone was so excited!
Since the event was just downtown, I decided I'd save some money by staying at home and commuting in each day. But as the conference drew closer, I began to wonder if that wasn't the right decision. What would I be missing by leaving each evening to head back to Scarborough? As it turned out, I met a wonderful new friend at a different, day-long event a few weeks prior to Blissdom. When I mentioned, half-way through the day, that I was beginning to regret not booking a room she said, "Well, why not stay with me? I've got two beds, and wouldn't mind some help with the cost." I responded, "Really? Sure! Sounds great!" We exchanged contact info and went about the rest of our day. And later that night I believe both of our husbands asked us what the heck we were thinking?!
I agreed to spend the weekend in a room with basically a perfect stranger. But I knew where she lived online, and we had a really great time chatting at the event where we met. She didn't seem like a serial killer or anything.
And she wasn't. We bonded and ate pizza and stayed up late and became friends. And I got to experience the full conference from early morning until late at night. For 2011 and 2012, I stayed in a double room with 3 other women at any given time. I say it that way, because not everyone stayed the same number or selection of nights, but there were always 4 in total. I knew some of these gals before the conference, and some I only met during our stay. But all were wonderful and fun. Sharing the room with friends new and old added a bit of a sleepover feel to Blissdom, and definitely upped the fun factor, as if Blissdom Canada needed any help in that department.
So, what's the point of all this? A couple of things actually. Whether you're the type of personality who can share a hotel room, or you need your private space for a quiet sleep at the end of the long day, staying on site is a great choice if you can at all swing it. You get the whole conference experience and awesome opportunities for connecting outside of the official events.
Which is kind of the second point. So much that is wonderful, inspiring, and helpful at Blissdom Canada happens not just in the sessions, but in the break rooms and over the dinner table, or just while mingling in the brands area. You just need to open up your big smile, jump in and take a chance - you don't necessarily need to agree to share a hotel room with a stranger (sounds creepy when I say it that way, right?), just agree to let yourself approach someone. Maybe it's a face you recognise from a Twitter avatar, or the blogger whose writing you've been admiring. Maybe it's the rep from a brand you'd love a chance to work with. Feel alone or nervous? Approach one of the amazing and welcoming Community Leaders, or find another gal sitting alone and go say hi. You never know who you'll meet or what you might learn from each other!
Me? I've had my Blissdom Canada 2013 ticket since the moment they went on sale. I have 3 roomies lined up, 2 of whom I've roomed with before. I'm really looking forward to the energy and excitement, the learning and connecting. Have you seen my countdown widget over there on the right? I can't wait!!!
Blissdom Canada 2013 runs Oct. 3-5, 2013, at the Delta Meadowvale in Mississauga. Tickets can be purchased online. Early bird registration rate is available until July 31. And the Delta Meadowvale still has some rooms available at the special Blissdom Canada rate of $125/night, including parking and in-room wi-fi!