Taking the “Mom” Out of BlogHer (& Other Thoughts)

I can’t believe I’ve only been blogging for 2-1/2 years.  So much has happened and I’ve learned so much about myself and the world since this all started.

This small blog that you’re reading has led to so many opportunities and has truly been a window both into myself and what I want to do in life. Because of social media, I’m plugging back into skills and abilities that I thought were long gone, particularly after I had the kids.  It basically pulled me out of the darkness. Because of social media, I truly know that anything is possible and I don’t have to wait for things to happen.  Because of social media, I’ve become a better marketer and it’s led to new career opportunities.  Because of social media, I’ve also found a new network of friends around the world.  These are women and men who inspire me to no end and have helped me find my inner potential.

This isn’t easy to explain to my non-social media friends.  When I told a close friend that I was about to head off to BlogHer 2012 in NYC this past weekend, she naively stated, “I’m sure you’ll do some great networking there.”  I’m not sure if you know anything about BlogHer, but BlogHer for me is not just about networking.  It’s about meeting and seeing people with whom I have real connections.  These connections started online but they’ve translated to my real life and qualify as deep and meaningful.  Many of these people are my friends now, and conferences like BlogHer always gives us the chance to meet and hang out.  I read their blogs, they follow me here or know what I’m to through my various outlets, we communicate daily on Twitter and Facebook and somehow the bond we have formed is far greater than anything I have ever known.  These are women who inspire me, and to be able to spend three days in their presence is just plain fortuitous.  It’s an honor to meet so many of these women, many who, like me, are using social media for work and have re-discovered their love for writing, or are using their words to move mountains and make a difference in the world.

They’re not all moms – they’re WOMEN.  BlogHer is not a “mommy blogging” conference although I was saddened to hear the term used throughout the conference over and over again.  There are a lot of moms in the room, but there are also plenty of women without children.  And there are all kinds of bloggers, as well as women like me who use social media to advance their profession (for me, as a marketer), so I wished that the term was used more carefully, or not used at all, and I wondered if I was the only one in the audience slightly irritated by it.  If you looked carefully at this room full of inspirational and powerful women (and men), you would have seen so much more than a room full of “mommy bloggers”.

I was inspired by BlogHer’s key note speakers, it was impossible not to be. They each yield a certain amount of power in this world and understand the power of blogging and of this particular audience of over 4,000 women. Check them out:

Women are not a monolithic group, you are not an interest group.  You make up more than half of our country and nearly half of our workforce, not to mention 80% of my household if you count my mother-in-law. – Barak Obama. Check out Obama’s BlogHer speech here.

Tweeting gets your message out instantaneously. I use Twitter for research and instantaneous surveys. I get thousands and thousands and thousands of responses when asking questions on Twitter. – Martha Stewart

“It would take a pretty fantastic group of people to convince me to spend a Saturday afternoon during the dog days of summer in a hotel conference room.” – Katie Couric

Solutions are complex and require a functioning healthcare system, which isn’t available everywhere around the world. We need to start in a place where we all understand and build awareness from there.  – Christy Turlington – (Yes, that’s me – more on my fondness for everything Christy and her fabulous non-profit, Every Mother Counts, in an upcoming post.)

This year’s BlogHer conference was different for me in that after 2-1/2 years of blogging and handling community and social media marketing for various companies, the sessions weren’t as helpful for me as they could have been. I had several friends who avoided the sessions altogether and came to BlogHer for the connections.  Though I did pick up several tips in some of the sessions I went to, I decided to focus my efforts on Bloganthropy and went to several sessions on using my voice for social good.  You may not realize it, but I have managed to use my voice for several causes in the last two year (particularly for the folks at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where I raised tens of thousands of dollars through an integrated campaign that I ran for my company) through my work and here on this blog. Advocacy is a huge part of my parenting style, and how I want to use my platform.  Bloganthropy.com hosted a panel with many wonderful bloggers, including one of my friends, Emily Vanek, who use their experience to benefit others. They have figured out to use social media to save news, create laws and their words have helped so many.

A few highlights of the conference for me included Voices of the Year in which my friends Varda Steinhardt and Shari Simpson and so many others read posts straight from their heart, defining the essence of how blogging can touch the lives of so many simply by sharing a story or rite of passage. I also enjoyed a glamorous Lifetime Moms party at Lord & Taylor where I had the chance to meet some of the current Project Runway designers, get a makeover (I told the artist to go easy on this non make-up wearer and she did) and find out about new falls trends.  I joined the gang at Nickelodeon, my old stomping ground, to hear about their new upcoming programming block, which I’ll write more about on this blog in the days to come.  I met the wonderful actress Kristin Davis, now starting in The Best Man, on Broadway, at an event for Zarbee’s Cough Syrup.  I reunited with the crew from all the 10 cities for Listen to Your Mother and I helped my friend, Ann, run the open mic for all BlogHer attendees.  It was a night of openness and amazing stories, one that I will not forget for some time to come.

As always, I found myself wondering if I was making the most out of the conference.  I was never quite in the right place at the right time, however I left happy and content.  I saw my soul sisters.  I feel as though as I’ve arrived in this world and I was exactly where I needed to be this past weekend.

Next year the conference is being held in Chicago and I’ll be there, but hopefully by that point, I’ll figure out what I want to get out of it and make it happen. Meanwhile, I’m getting closer to that point and after being in surrounded by so many powerful and amazing women this past weekend, I’m on my way.

Disclosure: I fully funded my own trip to BlogHer.

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  1. Never in the right place at the right time, eh? I can’t IMAGINE why that was…or who led you astray….*giggle*!

  2. Thanks for the recap! Yes, the “mommy conference” thing or whatever they call it would bug me too.

  3. I’m glad you had a good time, and were able to find a way to make it meaningful for you. I am struggling with some of the same issues, but I’m hoping to attend next year. That means I’ve got a year to figure it all out. 🙂

  4. Great getting to see you! I agree that the keynotes were inspirational, and also that the sessions weren’t necessarily as beneficial as they might have been. As BlogHer continues to grow hopefully they can find a way to gear the learning to the many different people who attend the conference, which I’m sure is easier said than done!

  5. So nice meeting you in person!

    And yes, as a BlogHer Co-founder with *no* children, it’s frustrating when people don’t realize that the conference is for everybody. I think we all know that sometimes it’s easier for people to lump women into that “monolithic bloc”, then appreciate our diversity and UN-alikeness 🙂

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