5 Notes to Self for Coping with Conference Anxiety

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Remember the cool kids at school? I was not one, and that sometimes comes back to me at conferences.

As soon as we sat down, tears streamed down her face. At the last event of Blogher Food 2011 Saturday night, the 40-year old, successful food blogger had asked if we could talk privately. We found a room upstairs, away from the throbbing dance party music.

“Some of the women at the conference are so mean,” she said, wiping away tears. She had met them before, yet they walked right by her without acknowledging her. Feeling overwhelmed, she said she’d rather be home gardening, or spending time with her children.

“It happened to me too,” I said. I was talking to a Famous Person when another Famous Person came up and discussed who they were inviting to dinner. Right in front of me.

And just like that, we were two high schoolers again. We desperately wanted to be adored, part of the in crowd and part of the cliques that gather. We wanted the cool people to notice us. We wanted to be cool too.

Feeling bad about her state of distress, I said most of the people at the conference felt the way she did (resisting adding “aside from a few clueless rude people.”) We’re all in a stressful situation, even though we’re thrilled to be there. That’s why we gather. According to the BlogHer Food folks, the number one reason attendees come is for the “community.”

But we don’t know all these people, and we’re not used to gathering like this. Who’s used to spending 15 hours a day or more with 500 people you hardly know? Who’s used to other people evaluating whether you’re worth sitting next to, talking to, rooming with, or inviting to a private event? It’s easy to get annoyed.

Even though I’ve attended writing and culinary conferences for more than 10 years (see liveblog of my session on recipe etiquette at BlogHer Food), I can’t always escape the anxiety that accompanies them. I love it when people tell me how much my book meant to them, but I don’t always know what to say after that. I get tongue-tied when speaking to Famous People. I spend a lot of time with friends and people I want to know, because it’s easier or more strategic than being with people who want to know me.

So before I get into coping mechanisms, I want to apologize. I probably snubbed people at BlogHer Food too. Please forgive me if I did not spend enough time with you or appeared to blow you off. I did not mean to.

And for the next conference (see you at IACP in Austin next week?), these are my strategies:

1. Don’t take it personally. It’s rarely All About Me. So the next time someone appears to snub me, I will  consider whether I imagined it, because sensitive people are prone to thoughts like that, and I need a thicker skin.

I will keep my social circle open and diverse, and not take cliques personally.  Here is why cliques form, from a site meant for teens.

2. Take time off. I’ll retreat to my room or go outside for some quiet time when I feel overwhelmed or tired. There’s no need to maximize every minute by being with other people. Time off will be more useful and positive than bitching about other attendees, as I just did above.

3. Focus on the positive. I will focus my energy on what’s working:

  • How lucky I am to be at a conference where I get to meet people I admire and learn
  • The pleasure of meeting people who read this blog or have read my book
  • The unexpected joy of hitting it off with someone I just met
  • How much I enjoy being with people in the same field.

4. Stop comparing. Someone is always going to have a better book deal, more readers, more speaking opportunities, more ad revenue, nicer clothes, more prestigious freelancing gigs, better writing skills, and more hangers-on. I’ll never win, playing that game.

5. Get some perspective. I return from conferences inspired about new projects, leads, and ideas. I meet lots of fascinating people and learn from them. Then I come home to my husband, friends and family, and to my work, and I’m grateful to get back to it all.

Photo courtesy of Photostock


  1. says

    Aside from the fact that you’re really the coolest of the cool, Dianne, it amazes me that you can still stomach conferences after such a record of attendance. I’ve crossed off the Big 3 in the US, and (IACP aside) I am pretty well certain I’m done with swag bags stuffed with turkey-squirters, a purse-full of business cards from people I don’t remember, horrifically-bad food, and the gaggle of former-high school semi cool kids that reek of overcompensation in that “always a bridesmaid never a bride” kind of way.

    I met one person I really connected with (besides the many I already know and love) who said it best- “No, like, what’s your real contact information, because I ACTUALLY want to be friends with you outside your business card and what you can do for me.”

    • diannejacob says

      Aww, LInda, really? I get so much from these conferences. I mean, I can see your points but there are so many other good reasons to go. For me one of them was meeting with you again. The last time I saw you was at Food Buzz. So I get to see you a few times a year, only because of the conferences.

  2. says

    LOVE this post, Dianne. I felt snubbed by a few people too. Definitely saw cliques form, but I think there are people who just like to hang out together and aren’t really much interested in meeting new bloggers. That’s unfortunate.

    I tried to meet as many people as I could… and was upset that there wasn’t more time. I felt like I missed so many. Even you and I couldn’t seem to grab a few minutes to chat! I’m one that loves learning from everyone… no matter if they’re in the “popular” crowd or not. Twitter has been such a great avenue for introductions to such a wide variety of bloggers. Turns out I’m a little shy to approach people in person at the conferences!

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Lori, for being the first to reply. You wrote a great footnote to my article, that you love learning from everyone, no matter whether they’re popular or not.

      You were one of the people I thought of when I wrote my apology, since we weren’t able to connect. I’m glad you didn’t take it personally.

      And yes, attending in person is different from email, Twitter and Facebook from our computers. The latter forms of communication are so much safer.

      • says

        I wish I had met both of you at the event! I saw Lori speak, which was awesome, but missed the session entirely when Dianne spoke. I heard it was great!

        I tend to just do what feels right at these events, and I look for people who give out a positive aura (sounds goofy, but it is so true!) rather than trying to find and meet specific bloggers that I admire. I learned long ago that they often aren’t nearly as “wonderful” in person as they appear online. And if they are, then I will meet them by following that aura :)

        • diannejacob says

          Thanks Alisa. You can read the liveblog of the session on the BlogHer website.

          Listen, everybody at these things feels awkward and may have inadvertently done the wrong thing. I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.

          • says

            Yes, I agree, I think that’s what I was saying. Perhaps what I wrote didn’t come across correctly? I don’t really care who the people are at the events (newbies or supposedly “famous” people – that term always gives me a giggle!), if they are giving off a good vibe and open to meeting new people, then I want to meet them.

            Yes, you can read my liveblog too! I was moderating also :)

  3. says

    I’m not a naturally extroverted person. The social part of conferences are hard because it seems like everyone already knows each other.

    For BlogHer Food, I pre-empted some of the “I don’t know anyone” feelings by planning specific time to meet with people I knew or wanted to know. I was there early and scheduled dinner with five unknown bloggers who wanted to eat at Cakes & Ale. (Best meal of the conference, by the way.) I contacted another friend and make general plans to eat together on Saturday night. During the conference I tweeted to meet up with a few other bloggers I follow during the breaks. These social touchstones helped me stay afloat amidst lots of unfamiliar faces.

    • diannejacob says

      Lovely, Rachel. I vacillate between trying to set up dinners every night so I won’t be casting about with nothing to do; and having it all planned out.

  4. says

    I appreciate this post so much. It is for these reasons (and not quite ready to leave my youngest for multiple nights away) that I have a hard time signing up for these conferences. In the past I felt as if they dealt too much with making a business out of the blog and how to make more money, get more traffic, etc. It didn’t feel passion driven and led from a place of sincerity. To me it made blogging feel “icky”.
    Now that I’ve met such incredible people through blogs and twitter I would love to go just to nourish those relationships and to actually meet these people in person.
    It seems to me that the conferences are becoming more than just the business aspect of blogging. I appreciate that and plan to suggest some other panel ideas.
    Here’s to hoping to attend another conference soon.
    Thanks Dianne.

    • diannejacob says

      I don’t mean to imply that that’s all there is to attending the conference. Not at all. I’m just addressing one aspect of it that some people (like me) find trying. I hope you do go to a conference eventually. There are tracks for everyone: career, brand, writing, community, etc. It’s not just about business.

      • says

        Oh I know that’s not what you meant. I got that. I have been to conferences in the past, when they were a new thing and blog as business was a huge focus. From what I’ve heard from friends the conferences have evolved quite a bit. I really do look forward to attending another conference. Mostly I just really appreciate you throwing out there what so many of us feel. It makes the community that much more genuine.

  5. says

    Thank you for this post. As a brand new food blogger, I know I had a lot of feelings of the ‘cliques forming’ and huge gaggles of the cool kids hanging in pockets that were impossible to be a part of. I felt snubbed, ignored, abraded and abused, but I also felt lifted up, inspired, hugged and engaged. An emotional roller-coaster to be sure.

    The pressure to be ‘always on’ for 3 days had completely burned me out, so I decided to take a different take on the #newtome game that BlogHer had decided to spring to try to wrangle even more tweets at their Saturday night party. I used the opportunity to actually engage with those folks who were trying to learn one thing about me and I had three fairly intense and genuine conversations with people I didn’t know. I came away feeling very touched that I truly connected with these people and I’m happy I did it.

    Thank you for coming up to me when I looked lost and just chatting with me. It was a true pleasure to meet you this past weekend.

    • diannejacob says

      How great that you used the tweeting game to your advantage, JIm. It was the last event of the conference, and you made the most of it.

      You made it easy for me to come up to you and say hello. There’s something very approachable about you. That’s a good thing at a conference.

      • says

        The game definitely would’ve been a lot easier if it was a little quieter in the room. I know I felt like I was straining to hear anyone talking to me over the music at the party.

        How nice it is to hear I’m very approachable. I hope I can infuse even a little bit of that into the writing on my blog. After chatting with you and Nancy and David at breakfast, I feel reconnected to my roots as a writer. I can see the pastry and the blog being a vehicle for me to get back to the soul of my craft.

        Thank you again for being so gracious to an absolute stranger.

  6. says

    Dianne I feel snubbed by people all the time at those conferences. And on Twitter. I guess if they are going to treat people like that, I shouldn’t care or want to be friends with them, right?

    I am definitely not part of the cool kids club either but I am sure there were people there who though that I was rude or snubbing them. Truth be told, I am still suffering from quite bad vertigo from my viral infection (to the point of being hugely dizzy when I had to hug tall people like Linda!) and I found the conference a bit of an assault on my senses. I guess what I am trying to say is that we never know what is going on in other people’s lives and why they act like they do so to perhaps give people the benefit of the doubt? I am sure many of the people who met me thought I was not friendly or kind of out of it and maybe rude but I was trying so hard to keep it together and put on a brave face.

    At the end of the day, I was so happy to connect with new friends and reconnect with old ones (like you!). But the cliques were definitely there. For sure. It made me very sad to read the story about the famous bloggers talking about their dinner plans in front of you. That’s just rude. So sorry you have to endure that kind of stuff too but I guess it goes to show you that even famous people (like you) are human. But really, that is what makes you endearing and other other people, not so much. I so wish I had made a specific time to have a drink or dinner with you – my loss :(

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Mardi, yes, I’m so sorry that we didn’t spend much time together. My loss, not yours.

      You gave yourself the answer — you never know what is really going on with people, so why assume they are snubbing you? Maybe they are not feeling well or in their own little world.

      Re the story about the Famous Person, as a result of this post, I had a discussion with the friend of the FP, who explained that the other Famous Person was planning dinner with a good friend. I had IMAGINED she had invited a big group of people and I was not cool enough to join them. So there you go. Completely my own fault thinking it was about me, when it was really about one friend trying to get together with another.

  7. says

    It is good to know that I am not the only one out there who feels this way! I am so blessed to have a group of blogging friends I know, care about, and can’t wait to see when I go to these kinds of events, but I always want to meet new people and I always worry that these new people will judge me and find me lacking in some critical way. It feels very high school and must stem from my own issues with cliques when I was a teen. Popularity is so subjective and has little meaning to me, but I always seem to assume it means a lot to others and I need to change that mode of thinking.

    I need to try and remember that more people are like me and just introduce myself to as many people as I can, connect with as many people as want to connect, and cultivate real friendships. That is why I attend food blogging conferences. Those who ‘snub’ me or act disinterested need to be forgotten. The problem is not with me, and if it happens to you rest assured you are not the problem either.

    Finally, if you ever see me at a conference, or ANYWHERE else, PLEASE come on over and say ‘hi’ because I guarantee I want to meet you. 😀

    • diannejacob says

      Kelly, I’d love to meet you too.

      Listen, we worry too much about what other people think. It gets in the way of enjoying the conference. No one is judging you and finding you lacking, believe me. And that’s what’s great about seeing friends at these things — people who already adore you, balanced out with people who will adore you once they meet you.

  8. says

    Having only been to one bloggers’ event at Camp Blogaway, I really didn’t have those encounters. Well, I just assumed I’d be ignored by cliques like in all paths of life, I suppose. The self-imposed “time out” for an early bedtime to regroup definitely helped me. Being a retired psychotherapist is kind of fun at such events. I love to sit back and watch the show!

    • diannejacob says

      You definitely have a lot of tools the rest of us could use, Liz. I haven’t been to Camp Blogaway yet, but I guess the same thing happens at every conference. We all (not you) just have to get better at handling ourselves.

  9. says

    This is a great post. Walking into a conference like that is akin to entering the high school cafeteria at a new school. All of those insecurities we thought we had gotten over years ago come flooding back. If you’re the slightest bit shy, it can be downright painful. Yes there were cliques at Blogher Food and yes there were people that were less than nice but I’ve learned to not take it personally. Everyone deals with stressful situations differently so what appears to be indifference or rudeness may be how they cope. Shake if off, move on, and focus on why you came to the conference.

    Reaching out to people before the conference via Twitter or Facebook can help alleviate some of the anxiety. Also a brief retreat can work wonders when you start feeling overwhelmed.

    • diannejacob says

      Great advice, Janet. It sounds like you are good at moving past the thoughts that temporarily derail us at conferences.

  10. says

    Hi Diane, Thank you for this post. I’ve printed it out and saved it in a binder I have of articles on blogging. I am going to my first conference in July (EVO’11). Although I’m excited, I’m trying to keep my head level because I know that conferences can also have negative aspects. I’m trying to keep my expectations low, so I am not disappointed if something doesn’t turn out the way I am hoping.

    I was never one of the “popular” girls at school and I was occasionally snubbed and snickered at (they thought I didn’t notice!). I know what it feels like to be left out, so I make sure not to do the same to others–including other fellow bloggers.

    Blogging has been one of the best creative pursuits I have taken on in my life and I have made many new friends (you included!) through my blog, Facebook fan page and Twitter (especially Twitter!). Although I am occasionally plagued by feelings of inadequacy regarding my blog, I try hard to remind myself why I started writing it in the first place and that it was NOT to get a cookbook deal, TV show or magazine byline (although if I got one of those, I wouldn’t complain!).

    I love being creative, I adore cooking and baking and I am re-discovering my love of photography and writing. My blog is not a money-maker, I do not run ads at the moment. I just want to get better at cooking, baking, writing and photography–those are the creative pursuits that make me feel fulfilled in my life. My husband is my biggest fan and I have a lovely group of friends, both old and new who consistently cheer me on.

    I am proud of the fact that I am an entirely self-taught blogger, cook, baker, and photographer. My writing is partly a natural ability and also something I honed in college as an English literature major. Being self-taught is sometimes frustrating and it’s slow-going, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have learned so much from others, I’m not afraid ask questions or ask for help and advice. I just recently got your book, “Will Write for Food” in the mail and am reading it as part of my blogging and writing self-education. Thank you for writing such honest and thoughtful blog posts. I hope we can meet someday so I can thank you in person.

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Flavia, thank you for all the kind thoughts. You sound like you are making your own fun, learning a lot, and feeling satisfied by the creativity of blogging. What’s better than that? I will not be at EVO (what is it?) but look forward to meeting you one day and signing that copy of my book to you.

  11. says

    Dianne: amen. You were tremendously gracious: and you were one of the people I “wanted to know”. I honestly brush off any attitude that is given to me, it is not relevant, people have their reasons, i might never understand them, it is their problem, not mine. There is just waaaaay too much goodness for me to absorb that I want to leave space in my brain for the ideas, the new people, the possible projects, the human connection, the positive energy, the learnings, the list of things I want to do better, and all the rest, lots of it. I could care less of bad food, bad swags, bad taste, bad manners. That’s always going to be there: I see it as “distracting noise” and try to ignore. Thank you for continuing to inspire us to write better: so glad you still come to conferences and share your wealth of knowledge. Despite the noise, of course. 😉

    • diannejacob says

      You have the right attitude, Amelia. You focus on what you love about conferences, and brush off the rest. Well done.

  12. says

    I had a couple of issues with the conference (cough, cough) and did indeed feel snubbed a few times. I met some amazing people, though, and wouldn’t trade that for the world. In the end, I think BHF is just too big an event for me to feel truly comfortable and I will probably choose to attend smaller conferences in the future.

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Winnie, well, that’s your decision of course, but I think all conferences will bring up these issues if they’re inside you. I’m going to study all the good advice from people here in the comments, for next week at IACP.

      • says

        You know what? You’re right. Next time I go (and there will be a next time), I won’t take anything personally and I’ll just focus on learning, having fun, meeting new people, and reconnecting with friends. That’s really plenty to do in a two day span…why clutter up my head with silliness about snubbing that may or may not be happening…

  13. says

    Dianne, I truly suspect, after reading multiple posts like these after conferences, that pretty much every single person feels this way, even the Mean Girls. I found out at my high school reunion that one of the most gorgeous girls had a miserable time in high school, which totally changed my perception of high school after the fact.

    My approach to conferences now is to know why I’m going: What is my intention for the conference? What do I hope to learn? What people would I like to sit down with after reading their blogs?, and to check in with myself during the conference to make sure I’m getting what I came for. I wrote two posts about my ego getting engaged at my first blogging conference, which was really helpful for me to realize. http://bit.ly/kGJOlH

    I had a much better time at my second one, which was my choice. Thanks for this great post.

    • diannejacob says

      Great post, Stephanie. I like the idea of being clear on your intentions and goals, while of course leaving time for just fun and serendipity.

  14. says

    Hi Dianne- Sometimes we tend to project our own insecurities onto those around us, don’t you think? I think even the so-called cool kids probably feel snubbed. We are all the same inside (or so I want to believe). I appreciate this post very much and let me say, it was lovely to meet you in person. Definitely worth the trip to Atlanta!

    • diannejacob says

      Oh yes, I do think that. And sometimes big celebrities like you are the focus of those insecurities, and there’s not a lot you can do about it, except be who you are: gracious and open. Real. That’s how I felt about meeting you in Atlanta.

  15. says

    I totally needed this post before this past weekend! I am by nature very shy and self conscious. I try to be more open in situations like this because I feel like that’s the whole point for being there – to make connections, meet new people, put face to the blogs I’ve come to know and love…and really, how can I do that if I’m too shy to approach anyone? I’m fairly sensitive and feel snubbed pretty easily. But in looking back I think that is my own issue, and just shows that I am focused far too much on myself, and not enough on others and making them feel comfortable, finding out more about them, etc. Wish I could have a re-do for sure. That being said, I did meet plenty of new bloggers, made new friends, and overall had a really good time. And apparently learned what to do differently if I ever attend another blogging conference – so win/win :)

    p.s. so sorry I didn’t meet you! You were one of the people I was slightly intimidated to seek out. Now I see how silly that was!

    • diannejacob says

      It’s just hard, Megan, and it sounds like you got past your insecurities and had a worthwhile time.
      I do know that some people are “slightly intimidated” to talk with me. I hope after reading this post you’ll see that I am not that different from you. Look forward to meeting you at another event.

  16. says

    Dianne I wanted to thank you for being so welcoming in Atlanta. Eating breakfast with you & David Leite on Friday was one of the conference highpoints for me. You may have burst my bubble about striking it rich through food writing but you’re still an inspiration.

      • says

        Wow, I am so flattered that Jim even remembered that we talked. I suppose many of us feel awkward and left out when we see a group of peeps who all seem to know one another & obviously have no interest in including us. I have gone to literally dozens of conferences over the years and never seem to have been in a clique. It’s a little hard feeling like you’re on the outside looking in, but I actually think it’s a good thing because it means you get to meet more folks. I clearly remember the loneliness of my first food conference where I knew almost nobody, so I really try to talk to those who don’t seem to be there with any pals.

        BTW, I don’t care how important certain people are, it is just unspeakably rude to talk past somebody as if they aren’t there.

        • says

          Oh Nancy, I hope you’re kidding. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to chat with you directly and honestly having no idea you were an ‘important person’. You were so kind and gracious to me and everyone at the table.

          I’m still kicking myself like crazy that I didn’t make it to your session because from the transcript, the ‘Fortify your culinary prose’ was the most informative. I also loved that they kept all the banter between you and David.

          • diannejacob says

            Hi Janet et al,

            Hey some people can strike it rich at food writing, and some people make a decent living. As you saw at BlogHer Food, many of the attendees do it as a hobby where they hope to make a living at it some day.

            Loved having breakfast with you all Friday morning.

  17. says

    As a teenager, I was excruciatingly shy and I managed to get through those years by flying under the radar. My ultimate goal was NOT to be noticed: I didn’t have what it takes to be popular, but I didn’t want to be labelled as a reject either. I managed to make friends who were popular and “accepted”, but I realize now that very few of those friendships were meaningful – in fact, I have quickly lost track of most of my high school “friends” once I got to college. For a while I wondered why I lost touch so quickly with people I spent so much time with – but now I realize that I was just sticking to popular people for my own purpose which, back then, was just to get through those awkward teenage years without being mocked or teased.

    I have remained very shy and awkward in social situations (which is why being freelance suits me so well), but I’ve managed to get out of my shell and make meaningful friendships when opportunities arise. I am a fairly new member of the food blogging community and I have totally felt the “out of place syndrome” the first time I attended a conference last year. There were plenty of me-standing-alone-eating-free-food-chatting-with-my-glass-of-free-wine moments. Fortunately, I didn’t always feel so bad and I managed to strike great conversations. I also met great people who disarmed me with their openness and friendly attitudes.

    I think the more you attend conferences, the more you notice the cool kids and the cliques. I’ve also noticed that those cliques go back to Twitter and the blogging world once the conferences are over. I think those who are the rudest don’t even notice how they make other people feel. They’re just having fun with their friends and they happen to be attending a conference. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get in. But it’s still human nature to want to fit in – isn’t it all a bit of a struggle?

    I love your tips – coming from you, they’re gold! I’ll store your article somewhere close so that I can get back to it when I’m standing alone at the IACP conference next week. That way, instead of looking like I’m friendless, I’ll look like I’m busy texting my popular friends on my phone :)

    • Amy Collins says

      Great post, Dianne. I always remind myself, generally chuckling, that strange encounters are almost. never. about. me.

      Marie, don’t feel friendless! Make sure you meet up with the website committee! We’ve appreciated your help and there’s not an unfriendly one in the bunch.

      • says

        Thanks Amy – indeed I’ve already met a lot of great people through IACP and I’m sure I’ll meet many more next week! I can’t wait to be there. I’ll keep in touch with you or Judith to meet up with the website committee!

    • diannejacob says

      Hello Marie, what a long confession! Thank you. Yes, it is human nature to want to fit in, be cool, be part of a clique, but going to a conference is about so much more. Of course we both know that, but it’s still hard.

      I will make a point of finding you at IACP. You’ll probably be surrounded by a group of people, all talking intently.

      • says

        Yes, well, reading your post, it struck me how life is sometimes just more of the same. I guess my point was that relationships with a purpose are rarely those that last, hence the comparison with my short-lived high school friendships.

        By the way, we did meet at IFBC last August, but I probably didn’t make a lasting impression because I only gathered enough courage to ask you to sign my copy of WWFF! I knew many people wanted to meet you so I didn’t want to keep you too long – or maybe I thought I wouldn’t find anything more interesting to tell you than “I really like your book” (although I really do!). We’ll certainly meet again sometime next week!

        • diannejacob says

          Oh gosh, sorry for not remembering that. I hope it will take less courage to talk with me at IACP.

  18. says

    Wow — so true. And yes, we all feel that way. I think it’s hard to find the right balance. We want to connect on a meaningful level, and yet we want to talk to everyone. At the same time we’re overwhelmed (it’s so big) and exhausted (because after all, many of us are introverts). We can only get better at this.

    • diannejacob says

      That is the right way to think about it, Colette. We can only get better at this. You’d think after years of attending conferences, I would have perfected it, but no.

  19. says

    This post was much needed and appreciated, by me at least. I was definitely snubbed at BlogHer Food more than once, probably because I’m a lowly newbie. I took it in stride though, mostly because I met others who were the opposite. In fact, you and I spoke several times and you definitely did not snub me. You made me feel welcome and comfortable to be around a Famous Person. It was great meeting you and I really enjoyed your panel too. Thanks!

    • diannejacob says

      Hah. This post made me laugh. Probably most of those people did not snub you, Christine. They were also stressed out, just like you were. I’m so glad I made a good impression!

  20. says

    BlogHer Food was the first food blogging conference I’ve attended. I prepared myself in advance by knowing there would be a hierarchy similar to that of high school cliques. I made my peace with that before I left even though the thought of it made me a little nervous. During the conference I set out to meet as many people as possible (one of them being you, and I did), and I tried to be friendly to everyone. I hope they thought so. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised and found that I met many delightful people, learned a few things in all but one of the sessions and walked away with more than I expected.

    Bottom line: rude and snubbing behavior says a lot about the person delivering it. And when push comes to shove, that’s not someone I’d want to be friends with anyway.

      • diannejacob says

        Lori and Mardi, I’m sorry but I don’t agree. A lot of the time, what you perceive as a snub is just based on your own ideas of what’s happening, and if you ever talked with that person, they would be surprised that you took it that way. I emailed with the Famous Person I mentioned above and found out I got it all wrong. Really.

  21. says

    I’ve come to believe that conference anxiety is universal — seems like we all feel it to some degree. It also seems like conferences inspire giddy highs and brutal lows for many of us.

    I went to IFBC in Seattle last summer and met some of you there, and know some of you online (you’re all perfectly lovely, by the way). But, at times, I did feel anxious, snubbed, and that I’d never have the time or energy to blog at the level the pros “dictate.”

    Yet, I met so many terrific people… all kinds of people… and wish I could have met everyone. Dianne, I still remember the conversation we had about writing on the shuttle one morning, and James Oseland telling me he thought MY job was fascinating (as if!) and on and on.

    It’s funny, though, I wasn’t able to go to Blogher Food 2011 and spent the weekend feeling sad and left out — like the high school girl who didn’t get invited to the party! So, apparently, the lesson is to just go and enjoy yourself as best you can…

    • diannejacob says

      How cool that you got to talk to James Osland! That is a huge benefit of attending these things. I hope you pitched him a story as soon as you got home.

      It’s normal to feel anxious at these things, and it sounds like you did the best you could. Re feeling left out, I suppose that’s normal, but it probably didn’t do much for you.

      • Maria Raynal says

        Oh, and to be clear, I had a great time at IFBC — the negative moments were just that… moments. Fleeting bits of time I’d forgotten about until I read the various posts this week. As for James Oseland, I didn’t pitch him a story. I approached him after his speech … along with dozens of others, most of whom were after an assignment. At the time, I was more interested in enjoying the (brief) conversation and experience. Plus, I’d scheduled back surgery two weeks after the conference and wasn’t in a position to accept an assignment were I to get one!

        At any rate, Dianne, great topic and conversation — I like how you shine the spotlight on the elephant in the room.

  22. says

    All of these post-conference recaps make me worry that I really did inadvertently snub someone! And I think you’re spot-on about point #1 – it’s all in my head. I do think any perceived snubbing is inadvertent – I certainly HOPE no one I know would intentionally cold-shoulder someone else. But it’s also a catch-22 that the more conferences you go to, the more people you meet, and the less time you have to spend reconnecting with them AND meeting new friends. We should all be so lucky to be able to spend this time together, no matter how many new business cards we bring home after the weekend.

    • Faith Durand says

      This is a great post and I agree with what everyone said, especially Casey. I was a BlogHer Food newbie too, and it is massively hard not to be overcome by insecurity at a big event like this. It’s also hard to carry on meaningful conversations in crowds, and I definitely have gone back over interactions in my head, hoping I always communicated well. It was wonderful to meet so many people but also exhausting!

      I think everyone, even “famous” bloggers, are prone to all of this as well. The clique thing is strange to me though – it seems like a lot to expect everyone to connect with everyone else; it’s a time to meet up with old friends as well as new ones. For me it’s less fragmenting to hang out and get to know a few people more in depth than to try to meet way more. Overall, all that insecurity can make us all feel weird and do strange things. I think Dianne’s suggestions of managing all that are so good! I just try to assume everyone I meet is insecure in some way as well – even if I don’t see it.

    • diannejacob says

      Good attitude, Casey. I remember thinking I didn’t get as much time with you as I would have liked. It is hard to balance out being with friends and meeting new people.

      • diannejacob says

        Everyone is not going to connect with everyone else, as you say, Faith. It’s too hard, and exhausting. And there’s always the balance between meeting new people and hanging around with friends you’ve made before. You have the right approach — we’re all insecure to one degree or another, so let’s give everyone some slack.

        • says

          Oh, I’ll fully admit to being wildly insecure! It always makes me laugh that writing requires such inner strength, because so many of us (me included) are a bunch of hermity wusses. I’m bummed that I didn’t get more face time with both you, my good friend Dianne, and spend more time getting to know you, Faith, since I have a feeling we’d totally hit it off – as well as a bunch more people who I don’t know anything about yet!

  23. says

    Dear Diane,
    Everybody said it for me, but once again, thanks for this post, especially when I am getting ready to go to a conference myself. I am actually bringing work so that I can also enjoy time by myself, in my room. Hope to see you there, and to connect with you in Austin. XX Leticia

    • diannejacob says

      Hey Leticia, Thanks. I hope to meet you at IACP. Maybe you’ll be in the elevator going up to your room!

  24. says

    Hi Diane,
    I gathered my courage to introduced myself to you while we both waited for an elevator at BHF and you were gracious enough to listen to me blather about my dreams of one day writing a food memoir. So thanks!

    I had some good advice from friends going into the conference (my first BlogHer) and decided to wear my thick skin and leave my shyness at the door. I had a fantastic time! I estimate I introduced myself to 30 or 40 people. Sadly, only about 3 strangers approached me. Still, that’s fine. I think some people go to conferences to catch up with friends, not necessarily make new ones.

    Did I feel outright snubbed? No. Overlooked? Yes. Invisible? Definitely. Would I go again? Absolutely.

    • diannejacob says

      Ha ha. I love that last paragraph. I’m glad you introduced yourself to me, Aimee. And good luck with that memoir.

  25. says

    First, this is a wonderful post, Dianne. I appreciate your honesty.

    I love these conferences, but I find that I am constantly reminding myself to do what you suggested — stop comparing myself to others and stop taking things personally. I think that insecurity is the overarching problem here. I get insecure and doubt my self worth. The people doing the snubbing – with exception, of course – are probably insecure and more comfortable with their tight circle of friends.

    The last thing you mention – get some perspective – is something that I try to take to heart as well. This is just blogging for goodness sake. It’s just not worth being stressed out about.

    • diannejacob says

      Thank you. I heard so many people talking about this that I figured I should bring it up.

      Yes, it’s just blogging, but we love it and we all want to be recognized for our hard work. I suppose a therapist say that we have to recognize ourselves, and not look for it outside, from others. Not that I’m an expert in that area, either.

  26. says

    I suppose I was extremely lucky in that my first blog conference experience was this weekend and it was Eat, Write, Retreat. I never once felt snubbed or that the room was made up of cliques. Yes, we all had friends we were more comfortable with and spent time with, but I felt as if at every session, every event, I sat with a different group of people that I got to know and love. There was never any feeling of being snubbed, only of new friendships. Maybe I have my rose-colored glasses on, but felt community in this food writing world more than ever this weekend. Maybe I was just lucky to be surrounded by amazingly nice people. It’s sad that anyone would ever feel snubbed at one of these things, that’s not the point. If people are excluding others, they’re missing the real point of these conferences, which is that sense of community.

    • diannejacob says

      Maybe that conference was different. It was probably smaller. But maybe you just have a better approach about going to these conferences too, Kimmy. It’s a matter of perceptions and expectations, I think.

  27. says

    It amazes me that our minds are capable of weaving this wonderfully intricate and sometimes so unrealistic picture of the people we have only met through the blogs or on Twitter. I have talked to several people I considered extroverted and easy-going, who assured me that they were painfully shy and unable to make the first move.
    On the other side, I was reluctant to approach some I deemed popular, afraid of being snubbed.
    I spent almost whole Sunday in Atlanta by myself, after nobody answered my Twitter pleas for company for lunch, but decided to not feel ignored or ostracized – I figured that most people who were staying managed to make plans ahead. I didn’t , and I still had a fabulous day at the High Museum.
    I would have loved to talk to you, and several times I tried to gather courage and approach you during Saturday party, especially when the DJ played the 80s music, but in the end, I chickened out.
    I tried to meet as many new to me people that I could, and managed to get to know several of them better. But there were so many more I wanted to meet, and so many I have met that I wanted to get to know better.
    After reading your post and the comments, I think that I need to completely re-evaluate my thinking, and move the people from their designated (by me) places in my mind. We are all introverted and shy, encouraged and empowered by communicating with the world from our living rooms, and naturally tend to stick to people we know and the situations that are well within our comfort zones.
    I was shy in high school, but I found out at the reunions that many people found me aloof, arrogant, and even snotty, which is so far removed from my personality. I had people afraid to approach me, when I yearned for friendship and spent many weekends alone, without a friend to accompany me to a dance. Yes, you are right, it is so easy to form wrong opinions, even when we are adults.
    Bottom line is that we should not assume anything. I assumed, and I lost many opportunities to enrich my life and make more friends than I already did.
    Thanks for this article!

    • diannejacob says

      Oh Lana, this comment made me tear up. Thank you so much for leaving it. I’m so sorry we didn’t meet. Listen, we’re all just trying to get along, and you are doing the best you can. Sorry this post brought up so much awful high school stuff. I hope we will meet at one of these conferences. And if not, my office phone is on my website,and there’ s nothing wrong with calling me up.

  28. says

    Wise words from a seasoned conference goer. Bravo to you for publicly expressing something folks frequently discuss at these events, often in whispered tones.

    Perspective really helps, as you say. At the last conference I attended just this past week — the excellent Cooking for Solutions in Monterey — I found a brisk 20-minute walk between hotel and conference panels, where I could commune with sea lions who care not what I can do for their career (which seems to consist of simply sunning themselves on rocks) was the perfect antidote to conference/crowd anxiety.

    • diannejacob says

      That’s so funny! You guys are all so great. I was moved to tears on the last post and then laughing at this one.

      We might as well laugh at ourselves and our silly insecurities, eh Sarah?

  29. says

    I almost didn’t comment, since so many have written such thoughtful comments that I agree with, but decided to chime in anyway.

    I think this “conference anxiety” is almost universal, even among the most popular bloggers. It’s just human nature. It is also human nature to seek out friends we are comfortable with, especially in large gatherings and/or stressful situations. At some time, somewhere, everyone feels like an outsider looking in.

    In reality, I think it is good to be honest why we go to conferences, to look for real conversations with bloggers (not just the big-names) and make real connections (as well as to learn new skills, etc.). Communicate with those folks between events, establish some real ties. Then next conference, you’ll have some natural buddies of your own. Just trading business cards does not make a successful connection.

    The biggies give generously of their time at conferences with presentations and more and I appreciate that. I hope I’m not too starstruck and demanding when I seek them out after hours or between sessions, but in some ways the very nature of blogging/facebook posting/ tweeting has broken down some real barriers and I perhaps feel I know them better than I really do. When a blogger is really successful at what she or he does, I feel part of their life and perhaps expect more than I should. But for every lack of connection I’ve experienced I can recall two or more instances of bloggers going out their way to greet me, listen to my story, give me advice and engage with me.

    • diannejacob says

      Sage advice, Faith. And look how well it turned out for us. You were one of my students, so long ago, and now we’ve been friends for years. I feel so lucky that it turned out this way.

  30. says

    I just got back from a 3 day ‘Plate2Page’ workshop in Weimar, Germany. 12 participants and 4 instructors. One-on-one instruction for three days and nights solid.
    This is the only style of conference/workshop I will ever attend. Life-changing.
    AND the food. Glorious unctuous delectable food and wine.


    • says

      Thanks so much, Mona. We were truly thrilled that the size and format of P2P did inspire a total cohesion between attendees and how well everyone got along both one-on-one and as a group. And the group dynamics did mean everyone could work so completely. I’ll hopefully be attending my first big US conference and I am curious to see how it works.

      • diannejacob says

        Hey Mona. So glad you had a good experience. A group of 12 is easier to navigate than 500 bloggers!

        • says

          I am with you Móna, I got so much out of an amazing 3 day weekend with our little group – and while 12 is certainly easier to navigate than 500, I think a large part of our weekend’s success besides the generosity, encouragement, help and awesomeness of our 4 instructors was also because of the willingness and supportive & fun community spirit of each person who attended – it really helped shape the entire dynamic of the group and make the weekend so incredible :)

  31. says

    Excellent post, Dianne, and so needed! I have heard this from a few people who have attended these huge conferences and I have seen this kind of behavior as well as the clique forming on Twitter and it is a shame. 500 people in 3 days is madness considering how many food bloggers go in order to be able to meet the Biggies (of which you are one!). I do think that sometimes our own timidity and lack of confidence and even a touch of desperation (“this is my one big chance to meet X!!!”) mixed with the problem of time causes much of this to happen. Smaller conferences are indeed the way to go. Thanks for bringing this up…

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks, Jamie. Smaller conferences are great, bigger conferences are great…we just need to navigate them better. It’s mostly under our own control. Look forward to seeing you in the US.

  32. says

    Thanks for your wise words! I’m attending my very first food blogger conference this summer (FBC in London) and despite the fact that I’m super super excited to go and meet people, I’m also already a little anxious about the fact that I know nobody there and I turn into self-conscious-high-school-me who thinks ‘what if no-one wants to hang out with me?
    Rationally I know that’s insane. Sure there will be at least a couple people I’ll connect with, we all have a combined passion after all, but rationality doesn’t come in when you’re standing as a newbie in a crowd of people.
    I will definitely be thinking of your tips here, while I’m there, and will just enjoy the heck out of it! After all, so far excitement of goint totally outweighs the anxiety!

    • diannejacob says

      Start reaching out to people now, Valerie. I bet other people are going who don’t know anyone either. It might help. Excitement about being there is certainly an excellent tool.

  33. says

    I have never been and quite sure will never go to a Blogger conference, but felt I should respond here.
    Your wise words describe how to face and accept the life of a blogger. Sometimes you realize there are some who think they are too good for you. They join you so will start following them and then you never hear from them again; it is just about number.

    1.Don’t take it personally.
    2. Take time off.
    3. Focus on the positive.
    4. Stop comparing. game.
    5. Get some perspective

    This would be great ego booster for bloggers to read; it made me feel that’s it’s all ok. As long i love what I’m doing.

    • diannejacob says

      That’s what matters most, Rita, that you love what you’re doing. It makes the rest of it okay. I often meet people I don’t hear from again. That’s okay. It would be so overwhelming to try to keep in touch with everyone.

  34. says

    I *get this* 100%. It’s so hard being at these events sometimes. The harsh return of the sick feeling of not being cool enough is really difficult to manage. It’s a plague that women can easily fall victim to and it’s destructive. Thanks for a great post, once again. Best VA

    • diannejacob says

      You get this too, Virginia? Wow. We’re all human, that’s what it comes down to. See you at IACP. I look forward to a big hug.

      • says

        Virginia mentions that it’s “a plague that women can easily fall victim to” and I wonder whether this really is something that the women tend to feel more than men. It seems to me that women are more likely to take these awkward moments (the perceived snubs) personal than are men.

        • diannejacob says

          Hmm. Well, I can’t speak for the lone male blogger who commented, but another male blogger contacted me and we had an extended discussion about this post. He was concerned that I was being controversial for the sake of it. I guess I don’t mind being controversial when there’s a topic I think needs discussing. And he didn’t understand why this is such a big deal. He thought it was up to each of us to make our own fun, invite ourselves to events, etc. I also discussed this subject with a male friend at the conference, who said he feels this way also, and gets intimidated when speaking to Famous People.

          Any other men want to chime in?

        • says

          I think conferences are a GREAT idea! There’s alyaws something to learn for the first time or as a refresher. Networking opportunities exist. You get to hob-nob with other writers. Of course I do suggest that you don’t pitch in person if you’re not 100% ready with your novel. I’m set to go to the Pike’s Peak writer’s conference at the end of April. Can’t wait! *A fellow crusader stopping by to say hello!

  35. says

    This is a wonderful post. Insecurity is alive and well!
    So many others have already commented but I just wanted to add that after the one and only blogger event I attended I wanted to quit altogether (I didn’t.) I recovered and re-evaluated and it is all good, but I must say all the clique-i-ness (is that a word?) really threw me. So your advice is perfect.

    Maybe uncool is the new cool! I’d love to meet you and hang out with you anytime.

  36. says

    Great post, Dianne! I definitely felt those cliques forming, but I went there prepared to just ignore those. My rule was, I was going to say hi to the bloggers I know and if we form a connection, great and if not I’m moving on. It’s a good thing I got to hang out with the genuine people that actually were there for the purpose of “food” blogging and not for getting invited to the exclusive parties. I even went to the conference without my blog biz cards! I guess I’ve done this so long, I know my blog is never going to be mainstream and be hugely popular but it is a reflection of me and my quirky obsession with food. :) And it was great to finally meet you!

    • diannejacob says

      Hey Veronica, I’m so glad we finally got to meet too.

      I didn’t even know about the exclusive parties. I like the way BlogHer Food keeps all events open to everyone.

      Great post about your BlogHer experience.

  37. says

    Dianne, what a thoughtful and honest post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the rest of us. I will be heading to IACP with a slightly different approach now. You sense a lot of what you say on Twitter already and I can only imagine in a large food conference, it’s all the more expanded (and isolating). I am attending with the hope of being inspired and to learn something, even a small something to take away from it all. And of course, to meet new friends, who hopefully have the same passion for food writing as I do. And I do hope our paths cross. I know you don’t know what to say when people comment to you about your book, but it is a very inspiring read and has helped me a lot. I do hope we have the chance to meet, in the outer circle apart from the cool kids. :)

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Karen, you have a good attitude. Yes please look for me and I will look for you and all the other people on this post who will attend IACP.

      Thanks for the kind words about my book. I never get tired of hearing that.

  38. says

    Great post. I have done two conferences and other local events, and I think I’m done with conferences. It’s very overwhelming. I like the connection with the folks, and the short-term inspiration it provides, but the cost, the anxiety, the travel time, and the snubs really don’t outweigh the goodness for me.

    Great tips, though! Well done.

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Jackie. I was lucky enough to meet you at one of these events — okay, it was my own writing class in Seattle, with only about 50 people. And I feel fortunate to have done so.

  39. says

    I remember being lost as a semi-finalist at a playwrighting conference. Later, as a finalist, I thought I would not be so lost as I had a winning play being developed. But I was. And it is my nature to be reticent – which won’t change. And with that conference came some acceptance of my nature and how I comfortably interact in large social gatherings with people I don’t know. (I didn’t go around pushing my play to all the powers-that-be that attend.) I made small connections and was able to see a group of very fine plays developed and took away new appreciation for my field and the understanding that some of these people had gathered together for many years and had strong connections. – it wasn’t about snubbing me but using the situation to reconnect.

    • diannejacob says

      Good attitude, Claudia. It’s true that some people go way back and want to spend time with each other. I still need to work on not taking that personally. That was what got me in trouble with my comment about the Famous Person.

  40. says

    Dianne, thank you so much for these tips. I didn’t attend the Atlanta conference this year for a variety of reasons, but mostly based on a terrible experience I had at a similar food blog conference earlier in the year — snubbed, alienated, greener grass, I experienced it all. Your No. 4 tip really hit home.

    • diannejacob says

      Well, I hope what you got out of this post is that it’s probably about your perceptions, not what’s really happening (at least most of the time) . I hope you will attend more conferences in the future, and I look forward to meeting you at one of them!

  41. says

    This is spot on, Dianne. I find conferences very intimidating and wish I were better at approaching strangers and striking up a conversation. (It’s so much easier to hide behind the computer and craft your words!)
    I didn’t attend BFH this year, but have attended the past 2 held in SF. SInce I live in the area, I did not have a hotel room to recuse myself to, but did find that it helped to slip out and walk around a few city blocks which helped me with perspective (but didn’t help with my shopping budget.)
    In the long run, I always come back from a conference with a few valuable nuggets of information which helps to offset the social angst.

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Lynda, that’s a good strategy, except for the shopping. Social angst is a good way to describe what happens to us. We all need to work on it!

  42. says

    Timely advice, Dianne. For those of you going to the IACP conference in Austin next week, just go for it. I don’t think most people conciously snub. They’re just wrapped up in their own insecurities. I plan to meet as many new people as I can. Have fun. Learn as many new things as possible and eat with people I don’t know. I hope to see you there, Dianne!

  43. says

    I am so glad you wrote about this Diane. I have attended a few events and felt so sad at the treatment I observed/received by some people that I began to question the value of going at all. Then I will run across a few good friends and feel happy that I got to visit with them. I dislike that high school feeling and a bunch of us corralled around at one point to discuss this issue of rudeness towards others that we witnessed. We felt it inhibited us from feeling comfortable about reaching out to others to a degree, which is sad but with social anxiety it’s a valid method of coping. There was a group feeling that as long as we had each other to lean on morale-wise we could have a good time. So if you ever see me with a group and not mingling much please come give me a hug and we’ll have a nice chat and I will introduce you to some nice people who are not judgmental and who welcome everyone.

    • diannejacob says

      That is an excellent explanation of why people form a clique, Heather. It’s definitely safer than all this other stuff. But please consider that the rudeness might be a perception problem on your part too.

      I will just break in on you next time. I’d love an excuse to give you a hug anyway. Thanks.

  44. says

    Amen to all THAT, Dianne! I vow to take on your strategies for next week. (And, for the record, you’re tooootally one of the cool kids and I’m always totally thrilled and honored by the camaraderie you show me.)

  45. says

    I have yet to make it to a big conference though I’ve been in this arena long enough to watch and wish. Last year I was sad that I couldn’t because of a serious injury and while not 100% healed I think this year is due to a lack of interest. Not a lack of interest in wanting to meet people but a lack of interest in the culture.

    I’ve followed the adventures of friends and I’ve read a ton of recaps and altogether my strong desire to attend has been pretty much eradicated. Swag aside (if I don’t go I’ve got $1000 I could spend on my own swag, right?), it seems every writeup touches on the caste system. Which kills me. We are talking about food right?

    I have a sweet friend who attended who could not wait to go; it was her first big blogging conference. I was excited to talk to her the other night after she returned; anxious to share her grand adventure but I could tell right away that something was wrong. Though she tried to blame it on PMS and being tired; the truth is, she was snubbed and hurt. By people she thought were her friends. She told me, “I think they’re friends in a personal sort of way, but whenever we were in a group and the talk turned to blogging, I was ignored completely…making it clear that neither I nor my blog really measure up.” She sat at a table with a couple of these ‘friends’ who literally turned their backs to her to hold a conversation among themselves. Inexcusable behavior in my book.

    So I think I’m done with conferences before I begin! I started a local blogging group and have made some great friends…that has helped immensely to fill that need to connect with my ‘tribe.’

    I know I am considered to be a strong woman but I assure you that perception has been borne from dealing with experiences that most of us would not ask for. As a result, I think maybe it best I not attend a conference, ever. I am a warrior inside and nothing makes that part of me come out quite like seeing people being treated badly!

    I recently handed out some awards of my own; the Stuart Smalley Awards and though a comic character, his mantra is something that we all need to remember. We are good enough, we are smart enough and gosh darn it, people do like us. Those that act better than you are just the opposite; you just need to find your own tribe!

    • diannejacob says

      Oh Barbara, I feel badly for your friend. I don’t mean to say that we imagine snubbing all the time. It’s just hard. And I hope you will consider going to conferences at some point. It’s really not about all this. This is just one part of it that we all need to work on.

  46. says

    Thanks for the article–I definitely shared your sentiments. I went to the conference alone and had the very good fortune of meeting some nice people right away who adopted me for the weekend. However, it seemed very segregated between the “cool” famous bloggers and everyone else. Felt very high school (and not in a good way!). I really disliked that vibe. Luckily I did make some great friends, but I also saw an example of how NOT to act when you become well known.

    • diannejacob says

      Yeah, I saw that too. But sometimes the cool bloggers have really deep friendships with other people and they want to hang with them. We have to give them permission to do that. It’s also a coping mechanism — easier than talking to tons of strangers.

  47. says

    This was my first conference and it has been interesting reading the different reactions–I definitely saw some of this and can relate, but because I came in from the subculture of food contests I already knew some people and in general just had a wonderful time hanging out and catching up. On reflection, we could have done this on our own! Still, I enjoyed the conference and had an excellent, real connection with at least one new person. I would do it again.

  48. says

    Great post – Having attended conferences of all types for far too many years, this is not a phenomenon that’s particular to food blogging…it happens in every industry (which isn’t an excuse for the boorish behavior).

    I experienced an eerily similar experience to yours with the “famous” person making new plans in front of me, with someone I was already speaking with. I just laughed and made a mental note.

    I attend these conferences for a number of reasons, but I go into the conference with a few specific goals in mind. The social aspect of the conference is what keeps me sane. I love meeting the people I talk with on Twitter, or over the phone. One of these meeting occurred at midnight…in a hallway…in pj’s (one of the best meet and greets of the conference).

    Bottom line: If you leave a conference with a few new ideas and a couple of new friends and had a few good laughs it’s been a good conference.

    BTW…It was nice to finally meet you at BHF.

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks. You’re obviously pretty good at this stuff.

      I enjoyed meeting you too and remember asking you about the image on your card. It’s a great conversation-starter, that’s for sure. And I thought your timing was great — telling me and David Lebovitz you found out about my book from a post he did that mentioned it.

  49. says

    Just to add a wee bit more perspective to your wonderfully honest post and excellent notes, Dianne: I think it’s important to remember that there aren’t any actual famous people at a conference like BlogHer Food. There are famous-to-us-in-the-food-world people, but that world is really quite small. My sisters-in-law and friends from college and grad school have never heard of any of them :).
    Also, discussing social plans in front of someone who is not or was not included in them is the height of rudeness. It never ceases to amaze me when people ignore this basic tenet of civility.

    • diannejacob says

      Right on! It is a small world at theses blogging conferences. That’s one reason I like to go — that I know so many people or that many have heard of me. Great for my ego.

      Re discussing plans in front of someone…it turns out that she was excited about seeing her friend for dinner, and was just telling her other friend about it. It had nothing to do with me, and certainly it never occurred to her that it would hurt my feelings. I need to work on that.

    • says

      You are so right! I work in the food sales world by day and on occasion I have mentioned food blogging to a chef I’m talking to. 99% of the time I have been greeted with a blank stare and have even been made fun of for having a blog. I just don’t bring it up anymore. And trust me, if you mentioned any big name blogger to someone on the street, they would say, “Who?” Big names in the food blogging world? Yes. Famous? Not remotely.
      Maybe for some of the people who felt snubbed, that would be a better way to think of this fun little blogging microcosm of a world and they won’t feel as hurt.

  50. says

    This is such a great post, Dianne. I didn’t go to BlogHer (and haven’t been to any conferences yet) so I don’t have any personal experience. I have, however, heard stories like this from friends who have been. I think your advice is great because it is so much attitude when in a huge group of people. I find that when I feel insecure to begin with at a big function, I stay in my own personal space and am quiet. Afterwards I feel like it was a bust. When I decide to let the insecurities go and put myself out there, 90% of the time I have a great experience.

  51. says

    Thank you so much for writing this, Dianne! I think you said what many of us wanted to say, but didn’t feel comfortable about doing so. I read this post last night and it struck such a nerve that I had to wait until today to comment.

    My heart broke for that blogger you referred to above. I know just how she felt. This was my third BHF, and the first that my closest few blogging buddies did not attend. I had a fabulous time at the first two conferences. I just assumed that things would be the same in Atlanta. I didn’t worry about making dinner plans, etc. in advance because I assumed I would hook up with people once I got there, as I had before. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

    I too experienced several snubs and slights – even from some that I had met before and others that I enjoyed a healthy FB and Twitter relationship with. After the sessions on both Friday and Saturday evenings, I was in conversation with “friends”, when in mid-sentence they announced that they had dinner plans and just left me standing there. On one occasion, I was having a lovely time chatting with someone when one of the “Famous Persons” came up to her and dragged her off to make dinner plans. The funny thing is, that this particular blogger is someone that I’ve known personally for several years, yet she totally blew me off. I didn’t expect to be included in everyone else’s plans, but I felt that some of these people were downright rude. On both Thursday and Friday nights, I ended up having dinner from room service alone in my room. Thank heaven a lovely group of ladies took pity on me and invited me out with them on Saturday night!

    I’ll admit that I am probably taking this too personally. I mean, no one actually spat in my face! In retrospect, I probably should have made concrete plans with people ahead of time. But, I found the clique quotient at this conference to be really high. Like many of the other commenters, I feel insecure in conference settings and am not comfortable insinuating myself where I haven’t been invited. I’m an established blogger with a pretty wide readership, and I felt completely insignificant. I can only imagine how the newbies felt!

    I don’t think that most of these bloggers meant to be thoughtless. They were just caught up in having a good time. But, I hope that reading posts like yours will make people a little more sensitive to others’ feelings and reach out more at future events. As for me, I’ll never go to another conference without having every minute of my time scheduled in advance!

    Now, I’ll exit the pity party and get back to my life. Thanks, again!

    • diannejacob says

      Oh gosh, I hope this whole post doesn’t end up being some kind of pity party. I know what you mean about these events, and I’m sorry that you ended up eating dinner in your room, but all I can say is that things aren’t always what they seem, and yes, you took it too personally. But on the other hand, anxiety is high and we all have a hard time doing the right thing at the right time. I’m not good at inviting myself either.

      I am always trying to make sure I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. I am not sure what more I can do. Sometimes people just take it the wrong way. I know this because I do it too. We all need to just step back and take a deep breath!

  52. says

    Dianne, what a great post. I can only say that one great antidote to such stress, for those who have the option, is to accept your mom’s suggestion to join you at a conference, as I did last year. It has its drawbacks, but you will never doubt that someone finds you interesting and fabulous! (Although I met some wonderful people at IACP — talking to you, Sarah Henry and Cheryl Sternman Rule and others who I do not mean to be snubbing), I also will always treasure having had some quality time with my mom, a rarity these days.

    • diannejacob says

      That is hilarious to me — taking your mom to a conference. I hope she wasn’t bored out of her mind. It takes a special kind of person to hang out with all of us.

  53. says

    Well put, Diane. Needed to be said. Thank you. And for the record, I was a bit too intimidated at BlogHer food to let you know I have a dog-eared highlighted copy of your book, and refer to it all the time. It colors my thinking and helps me every day Sort of sad that I was too intimidated to give you this compliment, but here it is. Next time I see you, I will say hello.

    • diannejacob says

      Ooh, I love to hear stuff like that! Thank you so much, Allison. And yes, I hope you will be less intimidated next time.

  54. says

    122 comments?! Apparently you hit on a hot topic!

    There was one point where a few of us were sitting at a table for lunch and someone walked by and made a comment that “There was no room for them at the cool kids table.” I remember hearing that and thinking, “What? We’re the cool kids? Really? By what comparison?” But then I remembered my first food conference where I didn’t know anyone, and I thought back to how it felt to see what appeared to be so many people who knew each other already, and I was just another nameless face in the crowd. It was hard to swallow.

    In the end I just ended up talking to people and got to know them, which is how I’m wired anyways, so it comes easily to me. In the end, maybe the only way to work around this is issue is to get over the social anxiety of being stuck in a room with a bunch of people you don’t know and just talk to folks until you meet those you click with (or clique with? ;). Just like in love, not everyone you meet is going to be your BFF, right?

    Also, I was bummed that I didn’t see much of you this weekend when I usually see you all around. As these events get bigger and less intimate, it gets harder to connect, even with the people you know and love. I guess that’s the tradeoff on going from three hundred people to five or six hundred.

    • diannejacob says

      Yes, I’m surprised by how people are pouring their hearts out in the comments. It’s lovely, really.

      You have formed some deep friendships with people you’ve met at blogging conferences, so it’s working for you. Re the comment on the cool kids’ table, that was kind of nasty. You could have sweetly invited that person to join you, I guess. Always easy to say what to do in hindsight.

      Sorry to not have seen you much either. Fortunately, we live in the same town. Although it seems like I see local people more often at these big events, which makes no sense.

  55. says

    Terrific post, Dianne! And I agree with many of the sentiments in the comments. Snubbing doesn’t feel good, regardless of the fact that it is not about the snub-ee and more about the snub-er. (lol). I think it’s basically true that folks tend to gravitate towards folks they know. Same with the Famous People. I always try to be open to anyone I meet at a conference. I have to say that I’ve met some fab people at conferences that I have kept in contact with. If you’re not open to new people, I think you miss a lot of what these conferences can offer.

    • diannejacob says

      Agreed, Jeanne. And half of the people at this conference were new, so maybe that has something to do with it. Not sure if any of them are readers of this blog, but it must be hard to come to a conference where you hardly know anyone. I’ve been there.

      • says

        Yes, so true Dianne! I think it is kind of my duty as someone who’s been to conferences to help welcome newbies. It’s horrible to feel left out. (this is coming from my former incarnation as a university orientation director). :)

  56. says

    I find it deeply distressing that “being snubbed” is the topic of so much post-conference discussion. Not that snubbing doesn’t happen, and not that we shouldn’t be talking about it, but I wonder how much of this is real, how much is perceived, and how much is simply a function of the craziness of 500 of us in a room for far too little time?

    Considering how incredibly gracious, considerate, and welcoming most of the food bloggers I’ve met are, I’m guessing it’s mostly the latter.

    I think I may have been seated at the “cool kids” table, or at least one of them, which for me is rather mind-blowing. (Guess I’m a late bloomer — high school totally sucked, and really, I’m still so totally un-cool.) But just because there’s a group of friends filling a table, doesn’t mean that they don’t want others to join them. Hell, I’d have one giant table of everyone together if we could!

    Perhaps it’s simply a function of having so many AMAZING people in one place. I try my damndest to be outgoing, friendly, and approachable — and to meet and engage with as many people as possible. As a result, I find myself bouncing from conversation to conversation like an amped-up, scatterbrained maniac. I’m so excited to see and meet everyone — truly — and I don’t want to miss a single interaction. (All the while, I’m trying to keep up on the twitter feed, too!) Sadly, with so little time, it’s simply impossible.

    Every time I read a mention of someone’s being snubbed, I pause in horror and think, “Oh my god, I hope they’re not referring to me!” (Dianne, I’m pretty sure you’re not, since I do believe hip-bumping on the dance floor counts as a “meaningful interaction.” Ahem.)

    On both Thursday and Friday evenings, I ended up being the dinner ringleader for a group of about 15 or 20. I wanted to include everyone at each of those meals, but that’s simply not possible, of course. So we have to whittle it down to a smaller group. Inevitably people will not be included. When I was trying to pull these groups together (and Friday, in particular, was quite impromptu), I did my best to keep it quiet, precisely because I didn’t want to be “that guy” snubbing others. I think I was mostly successful, but we’re all in such close proximity that perhaps I invited someone in front of someone else, and unintentionally hurt that someone else’s feelings.

    If anyone felt like I snubbed them, I sincerely apologize. Please let me know, and rest assured it was most certainly not intentional or personal.

    I’ll take you out to dinner next time, promise.

    • diannejacob says

      Andrew, this is interesting to me, because you are having the same response, in the beginning, as another male blogger did. So I don’t know if this is a coincidence or trend. I need more male bloggers to weigh in!

      You sound like a sweetheart. How could anyone feel snubbed by you?

      Thank you so much for mentioning that we hip bumped on the dance floor. I hope no one was recording it.

      • says

        Hi Dianne, Andrew IS a sweetheart- I had a chance to meet him at Camp Blogaway earlier this year! It was my first blogger conference and I had SERIOUS social anxiety about going since I’ve never really been a “joiner.” Your post is great for my perspective as I start to plan which conferences I will travel to in 2012. Any suggestions?

        • diannejacob says

          Thanks Gina. Since I speak at many of the conferences, I can’t tell you one is better than the other. I’m always excited to get to a city I adore and hang out with the people attending the conference. Sometimes that is more satisfying than the sessions!

    • says

      I have to agree with Andrew. It’s just simply not possible to meet everyone and do everything you want to in just two (very, very hectic) days. Andrew is the perfect example of this – we were on a crowded elevator together and when we got off, we introduced ourselves to each other (which I think he initiated…), said hi, and then went off to do other things. I didn’t feel slighted that he had other stuff to do. As someone noted by another commenter, with this many people together in a conference, you’d have to meet 16 people an hour to meet everyone there. I thought it was a pretty great conference and met a ton of people, and made plenty of new friends and saw some old ones. (And I don’t mean “old” as in age!)

      And Andrew, I might just say I feel snubbed to get that dinner with you… : )

      (And honestly, in response to that person who said that Stephanie @ Wasabimon was at the “cool kids table”, anyone who knows Stephanie should know that she’s nice, open, and as friendly as can be. It’s too bad that person didn’t take the initiative to simply ask if the vacant seat was available – and to just sit down and meet some new people. That’s what conferences like this are all about.)

      • diannejacob says

        Thanks David. Not enough men are commenting here, so I’m happy to read your perspective.

        I also thought it was a pretty great conference too. I have a 3-inch high stack of cards on my desk as proof of meeting new people.

        The first time I went to one of these things, I sat with the cool kids because I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know who they were in any details, and I thought I could keep up. Now that know who they are, it’s more intimidating. Silly, I know. And I also feel cooler if a cool kid speaks to me. Also silly. But I’m human, and at age 55, still working on it.

        p.s. How come you agreed with a guy, with all the women posting here? Are you saying men are different from women about all this?

        I loved your post. Still thinking about how you hauled back the tinfoil and collards for a friend. Fascinating!

        • says

          I have to jump in and confirm that Andrew is one of the nicest, kindest, and funniest people out there. I am afraid that a lot of us relied too much on his organizational skills, that going back to reality became a rude awakening:)
          Food blogging world is dominated by women, and the male minority is, I think, cherished by all of us (“I will name him George, and I will hug him, and pet him, and squeeze him…”)

  57. says

    I wonder how much of this is a “girl” thing? Exclusion and isolation are the classic girls tools for bullying at school and perhaps we are just a bit sensitive to that sort of behaviour. As a mother of both a son and daughters I’ve watched my daughter utterly lacerated by behaviour from other girls that my son would be completely oblivious to. For most of us, being thrown into a room with hundreds of people we don’t know can be very intimidating and, if we are there without any of our own friends and are not feeling very confident or brave, it doesn’t take much to start feeling left out.
    These 5 points are an excellent way to keep ourselves from becoming overly sensitive in any situation – thanks.

    • diannejacob says

      I was wondering that myself, Amanda. I would like to think it’s not. But I agree, conference-going is a stressful activity, and those of us who are shy, insecure, introverted types need some help.

  58. elwyn says

    What a culturally fascinating topic this was for me! The apparent need for personal affirmation, a heightened fear of rejection, acknowledgment and warm fuzzy feelings seems to be at the fore of many of the comments. We have all been involved with large groups where some people network extensively and work the room, others look at the occasion to re-connect with known friends and others take the opportunity to meet new people. On approach, some people may rebuff your overtures but perhaps the reasons were not as personal as perceived. Some people will like you, some will not – move on and retain your integrity.

    Since this was a bloggers’ conference, surely the blogs speak for themselves. We may appreciate a writer’s work on a given topic, that does not mean if we met the author they would automatically like us or us them.

    Mature acceptance of group dynamics would be a recipe to follow

    • diannejacob says

      Mature acceptance of group dynamics. I love that. Would have made a strange headline, but something we can all work towards.

  59. says

    WOW! I cannot believe I read every single comment on this post. I am way behind with my post due to health problems and here I am spending precious hours on reading comments. But you’ll be delighted to know that I loved every moment of it.

    Although, most of the comments are one and the same – you all had the same experience, the same fears and came up with nearly the same conclusion, but there was something different enough in each of the comments that kept my interest in continuing reading, One of the reason is because I read it with a mind set of: “going down the memory lane”. Although I am yet to attend a “foodie” conference as a newbie food blogger, I have attended enough symposiums in my old profession (and that is not what you are thinking), so that I can certainly relate to these situations, as well.

    Of course you could not meet many people in a conference of this size. Think about this way: you came to attend the educational sessions for three days; you had about 30 hours total (10 hours/day), including for attending social events and meet 500 new friends. You would need to meet 16.666 people/hour to complete this task. This would be an impossible task, even for the people that are preparing to run in the 2012 election against Obama (well, may be Schwarzenegger could do it)

    All I can add here is that people do not go to conferences to make friends. You go to a conference to get yourself updated about your business, or profession. You want to review who are the presenters of workshops because those are the ones you hope will deliver what you are seeking to gain from the meeting. In summary, you want to know what is new and what you can do better like Flavia said ..” just want to get better at cooking, baking, writing and photography”.. And Flavia you are welcome to visit my blog as often as you wish, because I love to teach, and I am equally positive that I will learn from your site – because most successful people will tell you that learning is a life-long process. If so happen that you will meet new friends, or old friends you have not seen for a while, or lucky enough to sit next to someone that he/she is great at breaking the ice, consider it a bonus.

    My concern after reading these comments is that you actually just reinforced my long time fear and obsession about age. All this talk about high school comparisons lets me believe that I was right all along in my conversation with someone – that most of you are between pampers and pimples and I would feel as if I was dropped into an uncomfortable time machine, where someone just greeted me as Professor Emeritus.

    I must admit, however, that I also gained a lot by reading all the comments. I gained a large list of fellow food bloggers (without spending hours on the Internet to find you) and hopefully new friends, that will not be surprised to read my comments on their blogs daily (as instructed by my mentor, Dianne Jacob, to do); and please remember to reciprocate, because I know who you all are.

    I better stop blabbering here before I will be black listed; although I am still trying to figure out what Lana meant in her comment…”several times I tried to gather courage and approach you during Saturday party, especially when the DJ played the 80s music…. Is that means that Dianne is getting near to my group of Depend people?

    And just one last thing (and please do not bite my head off, I do not mean it in a bad way), but writers, please remember that any abbreviation used in an article, during the first time use you need to spell it out (I had to spend time to look up IFBS, IACP, FBC and EVO).

    And Dianne, …..How come you never offered to sign my copy? And you are wrong about thinking that a meeting with 12 people is easier to navigate as compared to a conference with 500 food bloggers – there is nowhere to hide.

    • diannejacob says

      Dear Jayne, I’m delighted that you read every single comment. I always say the comments, not the posts, are the best part of my blog.

      I think we need some perspective here – although it’s hard to navigate these conferences, we still have a good time. I have met people who have become close friends as a result, so I don’t agree that it’s impossible to get to know people. After IACP I’ll stay with a friend I met through IACP, and when I get home, someone I met at IACP will visit with her husband. Those are solid friendships.

      Re not signing your copy, I’m pretty sure you’re kidding.

  60. says

    Hi Dianne,

    I enjoyed reading this and found it very well stated. BTW, I did meet you briefly and you were gracious. :) I felt much of this “attitude” at the party Thursday night and almost did not go to the conference on Friday. It got better, but I still felt there were all sorts of special events going on for certain people behind the scenes and it does make you feel uncomfortable.

    I worked with Jaden and Diane last year to bring Food Blog Forum to Atlanta and found that to be a much better venue where we all were together and had a real sense of community.

    I must admit that I came away from BlogHer Food less inspired rather than more inspired to write, cook and do what I enjoy doing. It has taken me a few days to come out of the “funk” and recover. I think that says something pretty powerful.


    • diannejacob says

      Well, that’s a relief, Gwen! Thanks for saying so.

      Shorter events with fewer people are easier to manage, I think. And it does take a while to recover from these things. I am just now not feeling exhausted, and have a few days to get my energy back for IACP.

    • says

      I need to pipe in and say that Gwen I completely agree that Food Blog Forum was a much better conference! You did a terrific job with the venues and the food and swag were amazing. Especially for the price! Plus it was just way easier to talk to people at all of the FBF events, including Jaden and Dianne and Todd. I am experiencing the exact same funk as you this week. Brought on by the conference being completely uninspiring. It took me until today to get out of it. which I think is pretty sad. I am so glad I did not fly in to go to the Thursday night party- that might have sent me over the edge 😉

      • diannejacob says

        Hey, what Thursday night party? I am so not in the know.

        Winnie, these events are different from each other. But why compare? What’s more important to me is to go into each of them trying to be the best person possible, to be grateful for the opportunity, and to do the best I can.

    • says

      I want to jump in here and agree with Gwen. As hostess and speaker at Food Blogger Connect in London, I tried my best to speak with everyone and hoped I snubbed no one. But even with only 100 attendees it wasn’t always easy to sit and speak a long time with everyone and I know that there were people I didn’t even meet. The time for socialization was limited and I did want to spend a bit extra time with bloggers who I had gotten to know quite well through the internet but had never met face to face. I can only imagine how much harder that is with 250 or 500 people attending!!!

      • diannejacob says

        Maybe the size has something to do with it, Jamie. This is the first time they went for 500 attendees at BlogHer Food.

  61. says

    I vividly remember the time you sat beside me on the bus on the way back to the hotel in IFBC last year. If you don’t remember, I won’t take it against you. LOL. I was feeling quite relieved that nobody had taken the seat next to me. I could use the time away from the maddening estrogen-filled crowd to just enjoy the ride back to the hotel, I thought. But then you came and saw the empty seat next to me and asked if you could take it. I think you remembered my name from lunch when you signed my book. I instantly felt nervous. So nervous and worried. OMG. It’s THE Dianne Jacob. The bus ride would be fifteen minutes, perhaps double that in traffic. What would we talk about? Could we just sit and enjoy fifteen minutes of silence? It had already been an exhausting day for me, Jun the introvert, and all I wanted was some time alone. But you were very nice and started the conversation. We talked about Filipino food, we talked about my dad who passed away, we talked about the Filipinos caring for your brother (or sister, I forget now) who’s sick in Canada and the fried hotdogs they would cook when you visited. There’s more to Filipino food than fried hotdogs, I said emphatically. We said our goodbyes when we finally got to the hotel and then you wished me best of luck with my blog. I will always remember that, Dianne. It was the best moment I had (perhaps, next to my minute-and-forty-second-chat with James Oseland) in my very first food blog conference.

    • diannejacob says

      Oh Jun, you are sweet. I remember that talk too, and I enjoyed it so much, even though I was tired too.

      I made a point of sitting next to you because I didn’t know you. And look what happened — you came to my class on cookbook writing and we are still in touch. That’s what can come of an empty seat on a bus.

  62. says

    I can relate to this on so many levels! I struggled with social anxiety for a long time so I always had mixed feelings when my employer sent me to work conferences. On one hand, I always knew it would be a good chance to learn and catch up with people I had not seen in a long time, but on the other, I definitely worried about situations where I might not know anyone.

    I have to say, the more I go to conferences the easier it becomes. I do think it is something where I’ve just had to do it over and over again to find more of a comfort zone. It doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of anxiety, but they are much more managable.

    I would also say it helps to remember that there are others out there who are in your same shoes. Sure, there are the ‘cool cliques’ who already know each other, have strong bonds, and hang out together. But there are also a lot of people who are coming alone for the first time and may not know others there. I’ve found it helps to be open to meeting others and to not be afraid to strike up conversation.

    I think the comparison game thing is huge for me though. It’s one of those things, better or worse, that I feel is made so much easier (in a bad way) by social media. There are just way too many people to compare yourself too.

    • diannejacob says

      Somebody finally mentioned comparisons! Thanks, Kelly. I feel so uncomfortable when someone asks me what my blog numbers are or how many copies I’ve sold of my book. I know we are all measuring ourselves against each other and it’s the word “against” that bothers me.

      About half the people there came for the first time. I’m not sure if any of them commented here, but boy, we’re not exactly giving them a great message about attending more conferences.

  63. says

    Wow! I am sorry you had a totally different feeling and experience than I did. Blogher Food 11 was my first blogging conference ever and I had the best experience possible. I thought the women I met were the most generous warm people! I, by no means have a blog that is well known and I thought the women at the conference were very inviting, friendly, helpful and tried to make everyone feel comfortable.

    • diannejacob says

      Oh and here we have a new person. Welcome! I was hoping someone who had not been to a conference before would comment.

      Please don’t get the impression we’re a bunch of basket cases, Jersey Girl. This is just one part of it that we’re trying to deal with.

  64. says

    {man post}

    Will there be any rude people in a group of 500? In all likelihood, yes. But it’s sad to me that cliques and rejection are the dominant topic of discussion. I consider myself to be a fairly introverted person, and I didn’t know a soul the first BlogHer conference I attended. But you know what? People were, on the whole, incredibly welcoming and friendly to me.

    I’ve now been to three large food blog conferences. Did I feel slighted at any point during those events? Maybe. But I feel that shouldn’t be the main takeaway. (1) It’s possible that the “snub” is a misunderstanding. (2) In cases where it’s clearly not… Maybe it stings a bit, but ultimately, my life will be OK if I am not friends with that person.

    Bottom line: If you’re comfortable with yourself, then it really shouldn’t matter what some rude person thinks about you. Better to think about the people who DO appreciate you.

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks for another male perspective, Ben. So adult.

      Agreed. The fact that we feel insecure is not the main takeaway of BlogHer Food. It is the dirty little secret that everybody talks about. That’s why I thought I’d bring it up.

  65. says

    Thanks for this, Dianne!
    Honestly I sit out a lot of conferences because it starts to feel like a high school cafeteria. I’ve been meditating on the way the world is becoming so virtual and so centered around momentary fame and unique page views. I feel sometimes like we’re all sort of trapped in a whirlpool of ego-clinging. So it’s GREAT to read that others are having the same issues at food conferences! Reminds me of that Smith’s song, “How Soon Is Now.”
    PS I met you at Greenbrier last year and you were very kind :)

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Ivy. Good to hear that I was not a jerk.

      Maybe some of this is societal, as you suggest, 15 minutes of fame and all that.

  66. says


    It would seem that nobody is cool and we are all walking around with insecurities leftover from one tragic day, long ago, on the playground. I must formally apologize for all of the assumptions I made about people who I didn’t connect with at the conference. I thought they were mean, turns out they were simply human. I guess we all have something in common. If we remember to take part in the human experience and not the personal experience, maybe we can ALL be friends.

    I will be looking for you in Austin!

    • diannejacob says

      Good. I like this realization, and the idea that we can all be friends. Look forward to meeting you next week, Melissa.

  67. says

    how timely! just getting myself together for iacp austin, and thinking about all this.
    i’ve been to conference several times, and while i always get a lot out of it (or i wouldn’t come back!), this social “strata” aspect frequently rubs me the wrong way.
    i come by myself on purpose, because i’m there to learn and interact with new folks, not hang out with my buddies. i smiled to see you suggesting retreating to one’s room for a bit, dianne, as i find i need to do that sometimes. just pop the shoes off, sit and breathe with no chatter for ten minutes, strap the nametag back on and get the elevator speech ready for the descent back down into the maelstrom.
    i also leave some evenings free of plans, so that if the pace of the day has been brutal, or the networking a bit overwhelming, i can just duck out for dinner on my own. (i’m not one who mids dining solo, so it can be a nice rest to not have to do the small-talk thing one evening.) otherwise, i may ask someone i’ve met that day if they’d like to join me, or grab a last minute spot on one of the organized dinner events.
    thanks for giving me some points to ponder on the plane to austin, diane. see yu there!

    • diannejacob says

      It’s brave to come alone, and I’m impressed that you don’t mind dining solo. Taking time off from these things is a healthy response, Cherie. I sometimes feel like I need to maximize every minute I’m there, which is crazy making.

      See you in Austin. Thanks for saying hello, Cherie.

  68. says

    Dianne I’m glad you made this posting because it needed to be said. While I did not attend this particular conference I have attended other food blogging conferences, which seemed to be the same as you described. In addition I have attended many other types of conferences over the years so I feel I’m in a position to analyze the differences. Just last week I was at another conference attended by website owners/bloggers of all topics, not just food, and I think I see a trend here. At this conference I observed no such stress or high school behavior that I have observed at the food blogging conferences I have attended. The mix of female to males at this conference last week was about 50/50.

    In my view the reason the conference I attended had no high school behavior, compared to the food blogging conference I attended that did, is because of the reasons the majority of the attendees of a conference have for doing their blog/website in the first place. From what I’ve seen people do a blog/website for primarily two reasons. They either do it for the social aspect, to make friends with similar interests or they do it for career/business reasons. I know many people will always say that they are doing it for professional reasons, but when it comes down to it, that’s not really their primary motivation. If they are honest with themselves they will have to admit that the social aspect comes first in many cases. In my opinion that is what drives the high school behavior. The need to belong, to fit in.

    At the conference I just attended, all of the attendees were about improving their professional careers/businesses on the net. Everyone has happy to talk to everyone and they were quite open about things. There was no competition, no snubbing, just a free sharing of knowledge. Ironically this seemed to result in more real friendships than the high school behavior I observed at the food blogging conferences I attended.

    So my conclusion was from all this was, everyone needs to be honest with themselves why they are blogging. Is it to have a social life, or a career? Because if its the latter, it won’t matter to you if you are snubbed by someone.

    Rick Jaworski

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Rick. At BlogHer the co-founders said the primary reason people come is for the community, so you are dead on. And with community comes all these other desires that we try to push down: being liked, being accepted.

      I’m curious to know the name of the conference you attended last week. Maybe we bloggers need to go to that one too.

      • says

        The conference I attended last week was the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) Long Tail Alliance annual conference. It is a conference for small online publishers that derive their income from advertising. Held in Washington DC, the first day is a day of sessions which included various speakers including one from Google talking about Panda (their latest search algorithm that has effected a lot of sites) as well as interactive sessions where all publishers contributed. The second day was spent visiting congressmen on capital hill to tell our stories and keep us in mind as they pass new regulations on the Internet. Held annually, any online publisher/blogger that makes income through advertising on their site is welcome to come at no charge other then travel expenses. Here is a link: http://www.iab.net/public_policy/flyin You will see my picture in Rep Roe’s office on that page. I would like to see other food sites in attendance next year as I was the only one representing the food world.

        Also this type of meeting has been so successful that a number of us are planning other conferences ourselves at other times of the year because one like this once a year is not enough with all the changes happening on the net.

        Rick Jaworski

  69. says

    Dianne – Thank you for this perfectly timed post as I’ve been having pre-IACP conference anxiety all weekend. It helps to know that someone as accomplished as you can even have jitters before heading in to a room of unknown folks.

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Kristi,

      If you’re not used to going to conferences, I can see why you have the jitters. Just remember you’re there to have fun, learn, and network. At least I think that’s why you’re going to IACP. At the very least, we can network together.

      Re accomplishment, several high level authors emailed me privately to tell me they get the jitters too, so you’re definitely not alone.

  70. says

    In regards to Rick’s post about the reason one blogs, I feel he left out a third. I blog about food because I have an incredible passion for it, and I love to share that with others who do. I’m not seeking fame or a career, nor do I have an intense need for people to like me. Sure, I love meeting fellow food bloggers and making new friends, but I love that in all aspects of my life..whether it be at a food blogging conference or the gym.

    Food blogging not only feeds my passion and fills my soul, but it’s also a luxurious escape from the daily grind. It’s my own cozy, little nook in this world.

    • diannejacob says

      Passion is a huge driver, Lisa. I think at least half the people at BlogHer Food earlier this month blog for the reasons you mention.

  71. says

    Dianne, how do you keep coming up with such interesting topics?! It was definitely interesting to me as an “occasional” food blogger and tweeter. I went to Camp Blogaway with my sister (Rabbit Food Rocks) as my first conference and we didn’t feel any of the negative sentiments that one may feel at larger conferences. We were glowing with excitement on our drive back to the airport and shared so many stories about actual people, not their blogs. In fact, we hadn’t even heard of some of the blogs-even the well known ones. Now when I read their blogs, I see them speaking, in their accents or mannerisms. Love it.
    We felt we were able to meet most of the people, and we had been urged from the get-go to efficiently network and MEET everyone. Probably more do-able at smaller conferences. Curious to see how IACP will go. I’m usually an extrovert and will talk to anyone. I will come FIND you Dianne! Look for me in my “cute” volunteer apron 😉

    • diannejacob says

      You sound like someone I’d love to meet, Shef. I love your positive attitude. I will look for you in your apron.

  72. says

    It’s funny, I’ve been feeling a bit left out because it seems like everyone is going to one blog conference or another. This post makes me feel a teensie bit better because I’m not good in rooms of 500 people. But maybe I’ll get up the nerve (and funds) one of these days.

    • diannejacob says

      It’s easy to feel left out. Here’s the thing: You can feel left out when you’re there, because people are always forming groups and going off on spontaneous adventures or dinners without inviting you. You just can’t take this stuff personally. So yes, save up and attend one of them, Tracy.

  73. says

    Hi Dianne, I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you. Overall, the event was a success for me and I don’t regret attending. I met some wonderful people and made some great friends. I did see some of the cliques and did feel a little snubbed but I moved on. I felt awful for my friends who were really upset. I’m not sure what the solution is. I’m very extroverted and I can strike up a conversation with anyone but put me in front of a crowd of even just 20 people to do a presentation and I’m a mess. I think everyone’s so different and maybe some of it is high school cliquish behavior, some of it’s misunderstanding, some of it’s shyness but I hope the more people attend these kinds of events, the easier it gets.

    • diannejacob says

      I hope that’s true, Julie, and I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet also. I think the solution is to take deep breaths, don’t take it personally, and don’t let it your fears and insecurities stop you from attending conferences. I had to deal with it again at IACP and I hope I handled it all better this time. Writing this post and reading all these comments has helped figure it out.

  74. Ginny says

    Dear Dianne,

    Thank you for this post. I just met you at the IACP meeting; we were in a couple of roundtable discussions together (I was the one who had a magazine use my photo without permission or attribution).

    During the conference, I was a tiny bottom-feeding fish in a giant pond! Certainly no one was mean to me, but I definitely felt many people staring first at my name tag to see “who I was” before making eye contact. It sort of made me feel cheap and worthless since I am “no one” in the food world. Just a little blogger.

    Therefore, I appreciate and am drinking in all five points of your advice in this post. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.


    • diannejacob says

      Dear Ginny, yes, I remember meeting you in that round-table and felt bad about your situation. I hope you got it resolved.

      Let’s clear something up: you are not cheap and worthless. People have paid a lot of money to attend the events and are trying to maximize their time. Everyone is looking for someone one step ahead of them, even the people at the top. Sometimes people are looking for their friends, and want to spend time with them. Please do not take it personally. Focus on your own success and what you learned there.

  75. says

    Being an introvert, I could see this happening to me. That, and a thin skin keep me from many conferences I would love to attend. I liked your points though. I will just have to deal with it like I do the rest of my life. Put on a brave face, and remember why I am there. To get inspiration, and learn how to perfect a craft.
    Thanks for the personal insight and vulnerability!

    • diannejacob says

      Sure Tracy. We’ve all been there. This post generated some good conversations at yet another conference that followed, IACP. And some bitching about bad behavior. But yes, it’s best to get over it and learn that we can move on and take what was good about the conference.


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