Back in The Windy City

Work took me back to Chicago last week for the BlogHer conference. Our client event was a great success (thank you bloggers who participated!) and we had a little bit of time to enjoy some great restaurants and… The Skydeck!

As i mentioned previously, i have always wanted to visit the Skydeck. I’ve heard the views are astonishing but my real reason for going is to make progress towards overcoming a deep-rooted fear of heights. I don’t want this fear to paralyze me from living life and taking risks (acceptable risks like going on a Skydeck, not stupid risks such as not wearing a seat belt).

Weather be damned, since the skies were grey and a bit rainy, i grabbed two co-workers and dragged them with me. It’s a complete tourist attraction but it was so much fun. I could feel my stomach drop and my head started playing tricks on me as i stepped out on the Skydeck for the first time.

This is me (and two co-workers) 1,353 over Chicago. We like this photo because the shoes represent our personalities.
This is me (and two co-workers) 1,353 feet above Chicago. We like this photo because the shoes represent our personalities.

If you go to the Skydeck, i strongly recommend putting down your own camera for a few minutes and walking around to observe other visitors. Yes, they are tourists but seeing how others experience this is interesting. Everyone has a different story based on family dynamics, age and their own fear of heights.

Part of the fun of the Skydeck is watching other people stand on the deck.
Part of the fun of the Skydeck is watching other people stand on the deck.

In the event the Skydeck and conquering a fear of heights is not your thing, i am happy to pass along On the Go Joe’s brunch recommendation.  I’ll let his video explain the rest.

Prior to attending the conference, Patrice Yursik (aka, the amazing @afrobella) shared fantastic recommendations for what do, see and eat in Chicago. I can’t recommend this post enough and hope you’ll check it out. In addition to offering her personal favorites, Patrice offered excellent alternatives for places to get great deep-dish pizza and hot dogs. Of all the “what to do” posts i saw, this was the biggest differentiator and what makes hers the best.

Not so juicy thoughts about going to BlogHer

Today, i am heading to Chicago for the blogging conference, BlogHer. This is not my first trip this rodeo. I know for sure its my second, possibly even my third but i lost track.

What’s different about going to BlogHer13 is that i finally stopped talking about blogging on my own and started doing it. HoRAY!! This will actually be my first time attending a social media conference where i am doing what i spent a lot of time talking about doing. (To think, i never would have called myself a procrastinator.)

As i fly the friendly skies i’m wrestling with what to do. I’m attending for work and have a full conference pass where i could participate in sessions outside of work/client commitments. Or, i could use my free time in other ways and continue exploring Chicago.

I’m conflicted about this decision and probably shouldn’t be. Why might you ask? For one thing, i am a terrible networker. I like people, i am just painfully shy and uncomfortable in new situations. It’s hard to network let alone strike up a conversations when you choke after ‘hi, nice to meet you.’ Then of course, i’m attending the conference on behalf of/with a client so if someone says something good/bad/indifferent am i obligated to report back? I think yes, even if i’m at a session on my own time.

And where does transparency fits into all of this? If i meet interesting, like-minded people shouldn’t i immediately volunteer that i’m in PR? That should be fun (not, but still necessary) and certainly won’t make being shy and socially awkward more obvious.

What i wrestle with the most is how conferences like this bring out the best in some people and worst in others. Having been to BlogHer and Blissdom (with clients, as an exhibitor) i’ve seen how conferences are a learning, networking and relationship building event for most. And i’ve seen how they are complete swag-fest for others. That same swag was (sometimes) thoughtfully selected by company’s is often trashed when people realized it wouldn’t fit in their suitcase on the way home. I’ve been yelled at by conference-goers, for not having the right food, samples, brochures and premium items. I take pride in my work so this is frustrating and upsetting. In the end, you can’t win them all. And by no means, am i saying this best of/worst of phenomenon is unique to blogging. It’s not. My own industry is equally bad when it comes to big events and celebrations. (Words that are true but will no doubt haunt me for years to come.)

Ultimately, i hate seeing people behave poorly or treat others badly. That’s why i was never much of a party-girl, what’s fun about watching people drink too much and then do stupid things? I would be crushed to forego an opportunity to explore only to end up spending my Saturday sitting next to the person who was unnecessarily mean to me or a co-worker.

If you are attending BlogHer and this means anything to you, i would love to hear from you. And, gulp, maybe even meet up?  I muse about miscellaneous things, love travel, shoes, my nieces and nephew. I’m also quite the talker once feel comfortable with someone, which surprisingly does not take long.

If you are attending BlogHer and this doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay. I would ask one small favor. When Brand X is out of freebies, or Company Y’s representative is not as hip as you’d like, be kind. These people are doing the best they can to make you, the blogging community, happy. Yes, there are hits and misses but ultimately they just want to make you happy and do a good job. Offer them a smile, or a kind word, say thank you. I guarantee you will make their day.