Welcome back to my Going to BlogHer, now what? series! {Here’s bebehblog Suzanne’s post, the first in the series, if you missed it}.

Awesomely this week, another Suzanne is sharing with us {I love having multiple Suzanne friends!}. Suzanne lives nearby & I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her a few times. She’s so nice & fun & makes beautiful little girls! You can see Small Fry & Sunshine at Pretty*Swell & tweet with Suzanne too. Suzanne went to BlogHer last year in NYC & was willing to share some BlogHer wisdom with newbie me!

(Almost) Everything I Learned at my First BlogHer Conference
[flickr id=”5918999356″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”medium” group=”” align=”center”] If you go to BlogHer, you may end up with a McDonald’s bag on your head. Everyone was doing it. Really.

Don’t be afraid to approach strangers.
This is the biggest lesson I learned at BlogHer. I had to wiggle out of my comfort zone and talk to complete strangers. Some I recognized from their Twitter icons or their blogs, others just happened to be next to me in line or sitting beside me in a session. It was nerve-wracking, but SO worth it. I met all sorts of people and made some wonderful new friends.

If you spot one of your blog idols, say hello (but don’t stalk).
This is the most fun. When I ran into Gabrielle Blair in the hotel lobby, I gushed all over her. She was so gracious, and it was a thrill to meet one of my favorite bloggers in person. Same goes for Jenny Lawson, Maggie Mason and Laura Mayes. We swapped cards, took pictures and chatted. And they were all nice as could be, even as I babbled and tackle-hugged.

But, be careful not to overdo it. One of my pals who is pretty famous in the bloggy world became very uncomfortable at BlogHer by a woman who seemed to be following her around. She’d corner my friend often and asked probing questions. Too much. Don’t let this be you!

Go to the parties.
Dancing, cocktails, cheeseburgers, unicorns. Enough said.

Stay in the conference hotel with bloggy roommates.
I only had a one-day conference pass, so I chose to stay with a friend who lives in New York. While I loved hanging out with my pal, I missed so much of the BlogHer action: late-night chat fests, drinks at the hotel bar, gatherings in people’s rooms. Some of the most valuable time at the conference happens outside of the sessions and parties. Don’t miss out.

Carry your business cards AT ALL TIMES.
Most folks tuck away a small stash in their lanyards, so that cards are easily accessible on a moment’s notice. Swapping cards is synonymous with saying hello at BlogHer. Be prepared.

Map out the sessions you want to attend in advance.
The sessions range in topic from techie tutorials to blog ethics. Choose wisely. And don’t be afraid to skip one if another opportunity presents itself.

Try not to get too caught up in the swag hall.
Yes, free stuff is cool. And the volume of free stuff at BlogHer is overwhelming. I got sucked into the swag hall for WAY TOO LONG and ended up missing a little adventure in the city with some pals. Get in, get some stuff, and get out. Or, tackle it in pieces. The swag will be there all weekend. Also: if you end up with way too much stuff, there’s a “recycle” room where you can leave unwanted items. And a shipping station where they’ll pack and ship your stuff home.

Stay on top of Twitter.
This is how EVERYONE communicates.

Explore your surroundings!
San Diego is a neat city. Be sure to get outside the hotel every now and then.

Do some homework before you go.
Here are a few of my favorite BlogHer-related posts:
A Newbies Guide to BlogHer, by Jill from Scary Mommy
Awesome business card showcase, by Melissa at momcomm
BlogHer Field Guide from Liz at Mom 101
A Brief History of the CheeseburgHer Party by Lindsay at Suburban Turmoil

Thank you so much Suzanne! Love your advice & awesome photo. Off to do a little BlogHer homework myself now.

Be sure to come back for the next guest posts in this series are from my BlogHer roomies!