While I was preparing for the conference, I scoured the TBEX Fort Lauderdale website, Twitter, and other travel blogs for tips on the event. They mentioned bringing business cards, notebooks, and even power strips if you want to make friends easily. I learned invaluable information from the lectures of this travel writers convention. Here are a few surprising things that I learned that nobody’s mentioned yet.
Surprising things I learned at TBEX
Bryan Richards noted on his travel blog that being a newbie to the event can feel a bit like being in high school seeing all the cliques immediately form. I could see what Bryan meant once I got there. Even though the people there are overall friendly, it can be rather intimidating to invite yourself into a group already deep in conversation. There’s also no guarantee that you will make a great connection once you take the leap to join in. Really, it’s a moment of serendipity when meeting someone exactly whom you are looking for.
1. Some people won’t want to talk to you…
And that’s okay. Although we’re all in the same industry, many come for different reasons. They may be from a company looking for bloggers with substantial followings. Perhaps they are looking for bloggers to pay for their service, like travel insurance or online blog classes. As someone who wasn’t looking to pay for a service, it was a big hint to me if their name-tag said “travel industry professional”, that they were less likely to want to converse with me than if it said, “travel blogger”. Depending on your goal for being there, they may not want to spend their valuable time talking to you. Don’t fret. Wish them well on all their endeavors, pick up your drink, and walk away.
2. Sometimes it’s YOU.
As opening keynote speaker, Carol Cain, said, don’t walk around telling everyone you meet that your blog just went up as of fifteen minutes ago. Cue laughter all around, but it’s true. A majority of people I met lead had just launched their blog the day before, showed me pictures of their terribly laid out website, or hadn’t even started. If this is your weakness when coming to the event, put your best foot forward and own it. I was guilty of this on the very first day. I met Dave Lee from Travel Blog Success, and after shyly introducing myself as a new blogger I asked him if he’d be willing to write a guest post. Dave responded with an uncomfortable look away as he answered, “Um… no.” Although put rather bluntly, Dave showed me that you need to show what you can offer that would make other people’s time worthwhile. By the end of the weekend people saw what I really brought to the table. If your website is lagging, talk about all the places you’ve been instead. Put a positive spin on whatever is going on in your journey. This tactic also works for conversation with new people in all areas of life because people tend to gravitate to positivity.
3. Show you’re ahead of the game
Speaking of a positive spin, I turned what could have been a weakness into a social magnet. TBEX advice across the board highly recommended bringing business cards. Rightly so, as they were as common as a handshake around the convention center. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any. Instead of admitting that and sadly looking at the ground, I one-upped everyone by exchanging the business cards I received with my “virtual business card”. Oh you know, to be environmentally conscious, save them all a step from adding the info onto their phones themselves, and seem as tech-savvy as Wetravel. Sounds a lot better, right? While I was searching for an app to organize the business cards I would receive, I discovered one that could also send back my own business information. Scannable by Evernote let me scan a card into my phone’s contacts and gave me an option to send my information back. Not only was it a useful tool to help me organize and network, it also helped me represent what Wetravel is all about. As any app that sounds too good to be true, Scannable does have it’s moments when it’s not perfect. Sometimes a person has a very glossy card or funky font which makes it difficult for the app to read, in which case you’d have to edit it manually. You can either just save that for a later time to keep the attention on whom you’re speaking with, or use it as an excuse to step away for a moment because…
4. It’s Going to be Exhausting
They say you will encounter a lot of people. They don’t tell you how incredibly exhausting it is constantly meeting people and keeping up with conversation–not to mention the energy it takes to do all this with an upbeat attitude. One of the speakers, Emma Sparks who did a fantastic presentation on, “Self-Editing Skills for Travel Bloggers”, told me her throat was getting sore when I asked her how she had been handling meeting so many people. Definitely by the end of day one there were some zombies half-heartedly present.
5. It’s Also Going to be Amazing
Alright, so everyone does say this, but it still took me by surprise how much I enjoyed myself. The talks are inspiring, the food is amazing, and it will all be worth your time and money. I have connected with many wonderfully talented, hilarious people whom you will meet very soon here in upcoming posts. The pre-bex tours are free to do, so come early to the next TBEX conference and stay later if you can to enjoy the area.
I’d like to say a big thank you on behalf of WeTravel for all the wonderful bloggers who share their stories with me and letting me feature them on this blog. If you would like the complete notes I took from the lectures of the conference, or have any inquiries please reach me or our blog editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.