If you’ve ever gone to a blogging conference, you probably know Marie LeBaron of Make and Takes. Marie is so many things: a well-loved member of the blogging community, mother of three, Nielsen Power Mom, co-organizer of the SocialLuxe Lounge at BlogHer, crafter and conference junkie. Marie is slated to pen her first book, a manual for crafting with kids, with Wiley Publishing.
How many total will you go to this year? Probably 3-4 more.
What criteria do you use to select a conference to attend? I look at who attends, what the panels/sessions are and who’s speaking, if it’s in-line with my goals for my blog.
What arrangements do you make at home to make your absence smoother? I’m lucky to have a lot of family nearby. My mom and sisters all pitch in, and my husband takes the nights and weekends. I’m blessed to have their support.
What’s the most useful session you heard in January? It was from Alt Summit, and they were talking about collaborating. Collaborating with other blogs, working together to be a larger force, combine ideas, and have fun!
What was the most unexpected surprise during your January world tour? Ha, “world tour”! I loved CHA. I have never been to this convention and I was surprised to find that so many amazing crafty companies are housed in one room! It was craft heaven.
What do you love most about conference-going? I know I’ll make great connections. Whether it’s with other bloggers or brands, I’ve come away from every conference gaining more knowledge and experience, ways to improve my blog and my business.
What are three qualities of a well-planned conference? Well thought speakers, useful sessions, and sponsors who are ready to align with bloggers.
What is one mistake conference planners sometimes make? Um, that’s a hard one. They all do a pretty good job. I’ve been to a few of the same conference years in a row, and they seem to change things up to improve every time.
What’s the best swag you’ve ever gotten? Chocolate. I’m a fan of treats!
What’s your favorite conference city? New York was pretty fun with BlogHer ’10. But I also loved Park City for EVO.
Must-have five things in your conference tote? In your suitcase? Bring a note pad, I always have brainstorms during sessions; flats, no heels until night time; phone for tweeting, lots of tweeting going on at conferences; business cards, pass out as many as you can to brands and bloggers; sweater or scarf, those rooms seem to get chilly.
Do you have any advice for those who feel uncomfortable/awkward once they get to a conference? Dive right in. Take a deep breath and go for it. Chances are the person next to you is in the same boat. Everyone is there to meet new people, so try to get out of your comfort zone, say hi and hand them a business card.