First time at a conference? 10 newbie tips

Katy Hill chats with fellow bloggersHow do you feel about going to BritMums Live in June?

Is it exciting or as it gets closer, are nerves setting in?

I first considered going to the blogging conference organised by BritMums two years ago. At that time, I had pretty much lost any sense of my own identity and rarely ventured out alone even to the local town. Life events such as post-natal depression, bereavement and relocation had taken their toll and I had lost my confidence (which was never that great at the best of times!) My blog was my sanctuary and something to hide behind.

Have you guessed yet? Yes, I bottled the whole thing and pretended I really could not afford to go.

The trouble was that I then saw all the posts and tweets and realised that I wanted to be there after all.

In 2012, I was asked if I would like to speak at the event and said yes as I felt that was the only way that I would end up going if I had actually committed to doing something. I also thought the organisers were rather foolish to take a gamble on me and would probably end up regretting it.

As the weekend of the conference got nearer, I told my husband that I could not face going alone and could he come with me to London just in case I could not cope and needed a quick and friendly escape route.

I arrived at the Brewery and the foyer was packed with people who looked like they knew what they were doing. I found my name badge and looked around at a loss as to who to speak to and wondering whether they would answer me if I summoned up the courage to do so. I could not do my usual and hide in the loos as I had disclosed on my blog for weeks that was what I was most likely to do.

I met the Butterflies who are the lovely bloggers that BritMums choose to ensure everyone is feeling comfy in a new environment. People started to approach me and say how they liked my blog or how we had tweeted together. It was a weird feeling – people actually seemed to think that I was OK. It was also thrilling to meet my favourite bloggers in the flesh.

When I had wobbly moments, I just went and got a cuppa or approached somebody that I knew would talk to me. I also noticed that some people were clearly very nervous and made the effort to start a conversation with them.

On the Friday night, I found myself with a lovely group of women one of whom somehow became my best friend in minutes. Later, she told me that I had appeared standoffish at first, so here’s to the power of Prosecco!

I laughed. I learned. I cried, but in a good way, empathising with parents who have overcome challenges with strength and humour. I can’t wait for June 2013 to come around, knowing I will feel that much more confident and will meet with friends and might just make some new ones too.

Here are my tips if you find the whole idea of BritMums Live a bit daunting

1. Remember you are not alone. Events are scary for many people and those who look the most confident are often quaking inside.

2. Use the weeks before BritMums Live to tweet with people who are going and perhaps to arrange to meet so you have a ready-made friend or two when you arrive.

3. Admit you are nervous. Showing vulnerability is strong and people will love you for it.

4. Small talk can be challenging so ask people questions to open up conversations. You can assume that anyone attending this event will be interested in blogging so ask them about that.

5. Don’t be surprised if a celebrity or someone you really admire speaks to you. They are human too.

6. Act as if the person you are with is really shy and try to make them feel at ease. That neatly takes the focus of your own wobbly feelings.

7. If someone scurries away from you, it is probably that they have their own issues and it does not mean that they don’t like you.

8. Remember that nobody starts off as an experienced blogger but all experienced bloggers know what it feels like to be a newbie in terms of blogging or blogging events.

9. Lots of people at this event will be there for the first time too.

10. Some people who would love to be at this event cannot be for all sorts of reasons including sad and tragic ones. Seize the day and come and have the most amazing time!

If all else fails, come and find me. You’ll find me in the loos!

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About Kate Davis-Holmes

Kate Davis-Holmes is a writer and blogger. She is married with 3 children. After obtaining a law degree from Cambridge University, Kate spent 20 years working in local and national organisations. She has experience of project management. media relations, events organisation, advice-giving and the facilitation of learning groups. Kate’s interests include bargain-hunting, reading, travelling and cookery. She has a passion for helping good causes and seeing women get a fairer deal in society.


  1. 05 May 2013 / 19:11

    I’m quite looking forward to being at a conference where everyone’s got something in common other than just work. My usual work conferences are full of sales men, and tend to be dull and repetitive, so it’ll be great to experience a more interesting one I really want to be at.

    However, I’m still trying to work out childcare, and will be going home in between, so not sure how the logistics are actually going to work yet. Hopefully will meet some other people doing the same thing who won’t be enjoying the evening together, so won’t feel too out of it on the Saturday.

  2. 06 May 2013 / 10:06

    I’ll be attending this years Britmumslive and I’m already nervous about it! I’m taking my little boy so he’ll be my ice breaker and I’m sure it’s going to be fine and we’ll have a fab time but there’s always that little doubt at the back of my mind thinking what if! See you in the loos 😉

  3. 06 May 2013 / 11:21

    Ah no need to be nervous! I’m coming again, this will be my 4th conference and I love them!
    Just remember everyone feels slightly nervous at these events, even me(!) as we all tend to hide behind that friendly monitor!

    I’m also going to be offering my coffee meet up beforehand like last year, so if anyone wants to take me up on that we’ll meet like last year and commandeer the local Starbucks the hour and a half before the doors open!

  4. 06 May 2013 / 13:51

    Thank you for this ….. I will look out for you … I will be the one looking at my phone for “important tweets and texts” if no one is talking to me 😉

  5. 07 May 2013 / 07:19

    Great tips, wish I was going! Next year I plan to be there. Hope you have a good time.

  6. 07 May 2013 / 14:05

    Thanks for this! I hadn’t really thought about it too much till recently, but it is a little daunting going to something like this without knowing anyone in the flesh so to speak. It will be my first conference and I’ll most likely latch on to those Butterflies! x

  7. 07 May 2013 / 15:02

    All in all, I think I’m just excited about going and FINALLY meeting all of these lovely people I have been tweeting for so long (I just hope we all recognise one another!). I know that nearer the time, butterflies will kick in and so I’ve very thankful that the actual ‘butterflies’ will be there to guide us through:) Not long now eek!

  8. 07 May 2013 / 15:12

    My first time too, so as a virgin conference (blimey, making up words that don’t exist already) I shall not only be hiding in the loo, I shall be engrossed in urgent work emails (that’ll be Twitter, then) on the phone and writing something critical down in my note pad. Unless, of course, I manage to strike up a conversation in which case I am sure it will be fab to talk blogging and all that malarkey.

  9. 08 May 2013 / 11:45

    Only recently bought my ticket – haven’t thought about being nervous…been so busy with work and life in general! I’m sure as time goes by the nerves will kick in somewhat!

    Sounds stupid, but what should we bring with us??!

  10. 09 May 2013 / 13:02

    I remember meeting you at BritMums Live! You were (are) very lovely indeed 🙂

  11. 13 May 2013 / 12:09

    Wonderful post and so very true. I felt the nerves accutely but had one of the best weekends of my life. Meeting you was so wonderful and a year on I know I have a BFF 🙂
    This year I am even more nervous as I’ve been asked to be on a panel. I feel such a fraud.
    Much love

  12. 15 May 2013 / 00:35

    My first time after watching all the tweets last year I decided there and then to sign up for this year. Really looking forward to it and thank you for some very sensible advice here. Which way was the loo again?

  13. 20 May 2013 / 17:57

    Oh no I chickened out too as wasn’t ready to reveal Bruce Wayne just yet…. Regret it now!

  14. I attended a session on which you were a member of the panel and I remember your warmth and wit very well. I do hope we can meet up and say hello properly this year. I am one of the butterflies and will ensure your welcome is as delightful as last time! :))

  15. 04 June 2013 / 23:08

    And I remember hearing you speak, you were fab! Looking forward to saying hi IRL.

  16. 21 June 2013 / 10:11

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