Friday, August 5, 2011

SheCon Lovely: Leticia Barr

The SheCon Lovely feature is my way of introducing my readers to the new friends that I made while attending SheCon '11 in Miami, Florida in May. Rather than doing one post with only my thoughts on the conference and telling you about those that I met, I thought it would be more fun for you to read opinions from more people while meeting them firsthand through a guest post. 

To read what the previous SheCon Lovelies had to say, click here. To check out my photos (and some that I stole from my new friends!), check out A Working Mom's Closet on Facebook!

Last but not least, we have Leticia!

*Tell us a little about yourself and your blog.
My name is Leticia Barr and I’m the founder of Tech Savvy Mama, a site that assists parents in navigating the ever-changing world of technology.  I use my experience as a former teacher and technology specialist for a large DC Metro area school system to evaluate new technology along with educational resources for children of all ages and makes honest recommendations to her readers.  I split my day between working on blogger outreach and content development for ChicaLogic, a social media consultant, family internet safety and security expert, and being a mom.  I spend my writing weekly columns for The LeapFrog Community, Mom Blog Magazine and The Parenting Connection, consulting for technology and education companies, working as the behind the scenes editor on MyBlogalicious, and Tweeting.  Frequently asked how she does it all, Leticia replies that she doesn't sleep much!

*Have you been to any other blogging or social media conferences before? If so, which ones?

I am a blog conference veteran!  I attended BlogHer for the first time in 2008 when I had only been blogging for six months.  I felt like a fish out of water and totally overwhelmed by all of the wonderful things that I was learning.  My challenge was using my knowledge and figuring out how to incorporate it into what I wanted to do with my blog.  These days I love to share what I’ve learned in the 3 ½ years I’ve been blogging with other attendees.  I spoke at the inaugural Blogalicious conference in 2009, was on a panel about resource blogging at least year’s BlogHer in New York city, and most recently, presented a session at Type A Parent called Collaboration that Pays.  This summer I’ll be presenting a two hour session at BlogHer in San Diego called Social Media Tools 101 for new bloggers wanting to use more social media tools to amplify their writing and also teaching attendees how to write pitches in How to Write a Kick A$$ Proposal.  I’ll also be presenting about teaching through the use of online communities at the National Association for Education of Young Children’s national conference in Orlando this fall.   I’m no longer a newbie but find that there’s always something to learn at every conference I attend!

*What were some of your reasons for attending SheCon?

I was attracted to SheCon because it was a new conference and I wanted to see what it was about!  Plus they had great keynote speakers lined up like Guy Kawasaki and Aliza Sherman and I saw it as a wonderful way to connect with people I already knew while meeting new ones.

*Who were your favorite speakers and why?

I loved hearing Guy Kawasaki at the opening keynote.  Ironically, he spoke at my high school baccalaureate and certain things he said, were part of his speech to us 19 years ago which just goes to show that the things he talked about in regards to enchanting an audience still hold true and will probably never go away.

*What do you think is the most important thing you learned from the SheCon presentations?

The conference gave me a new appreciation for the work that any presenter does when preparing to speak. When I know I’m going to be presenting, I always want my audience to come away with something useful.  It’s an honor to be asked to speak and it’s a job that needs to be taken seriously.  It was disappointing to be waiting outside sessions with wonderful descriptions only to learn that the presenter wasn’t coming and attend sessions where it was clear that presenters hadn’t talked to their co-panelists prior to setting foot in the room.

*What do you think is the most important thing you learned from the conference as a whole?

Regardless of the size of the conference, there is always something that everyone can learn from attending.  I know some brands were probably quite disappointed by the sheer numbers of those attending the conference on the first day, but by the last day, they had a newfound appreciation for the relationships they were able to develop thanks to the intimate environment.  As a blogger, I appreciated the time to really get to know fellow bloggers even if I see them at other events.  SheCon wasn’t rushed and provided multiple opportunities for bloggers to interact with each other and brands.  Since I love forming relationships with those I work with, time spent talking to and getting to know others was invaluable.

I also developed a new appreciation for the things I usually take for granted at other blog conferences that make them run smoothly.  A correct agenda, signage, staff that is kept informed of changes that they can share with attendees, etc. are all things that help a conference run like a well-oiled machine.  It was admirable that SheCon founder Julie took on a monstrous task of planning her first conference and I think there were lots of learning experiences to gain from it on the conference organizer, brand, and blogger sides.

*What were your favorite events/activities?
I’d have to say the authentic engagement with fellow attendees was my favorite part of the conference. I was so thrilled to represent Clever Girls Collective at SheCon and share their network with attendees by building buzz around fun things like a cupcake truck and the largest pizza ever! Julie Pron, my partner-in-crime for the conference, were happy with the way that our work with the Clever Girls provided networking opportunities for attendees.  It was nice to be able to sit, talk, and get to know others on a more intimate level than at other blogging conferences where all you get is a quick wave hi as you shuffle off to a plethora of panels, meetings, and other events!

*What advice would you give to someone who has never attended a conference and is considering one in the future?

There are tons of blogging conferences that exist and many different reasons to attend, or skip, each one.  Consider location, price, duration, and reputation of a conference before you sign up.  Perhaps start small.  Day-long conferences like the SITS Girls’ Bloggy Boot Camp are held as one day events around the country.  From what I’ve heard, they are fun, intense, learning experiences that are made more affordable because the programming spans a single day.

Multi-day smaller conference like Blogalicious, Type A, Evo, Reviewers Retreat, or a conference that is tailed to your niche provide the opportunity to network with bloggers and brands in a small environment.  BlogHer is one of the biggest blogging conferences that brings together 3000 bloggers and tons of brands .  BlogHer is more about the quantity of contacts rather than the quality.  While I always feel like I don’t ever get enough time with one blogger or brand, the connections that come from being in the space for two days is amazing!

All conferences have great programming in terms of the panels they provide but also check to be sure that there’s something on the agenda that you want to learn about before you sign up. 

Here are a few more tips:
·       Subscribe to the conference newsletter to get the latest conference news but also a nice discount code from time to time, depending on the conference.
·       Bring lots of business cards and include your avatar on them.  It’s hard to remember who is who but having your photo or blog button on your card provides a great visual for when people get home and they are sorting through their cards.
·       Make sure you eat good meals during the weekend of the conference. Whether lackluster hotel food served at breakfast or lunch, or the desire to get out of the space when you reach saturation, find a good place to eat that serves something you’re craving
·       Protein bars are must-haves! A night of appetizers doesn’t make a dinner and it can be an excruciatingly long time between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner.  Pack your own snacks to ward off the hungries!

Leticia, thank you SO much for taking the time to answer the questions and give us such fantastic advice. I'm so grateful to have met you!

Well friends, that wraps up this year's SheCon Lovelies feature! I really had a blast at the conference and can't wait to go back next year. You can be sure I'll do another round of features afterward again! 

Have a FANTASTIC Friday everyone!

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