It’s that time of year again. The BlogWorld Expo has once again come and gone, and once again, it was a rewarding experience.
Last year, Michelle and I found ourselves in the presence of some of the top bloggers at a dinner thrown by Market Leverage. Unfortunately, we were unable to make it to the dinner this year as we had so much going on. In fact, we missed out on a few things, but the weekend was still productive and a lot of fun.
Thursday night, we attended the TechSet party at The Bank night club in the Bellagio hotel. Budweiser sponsored free beers for a while, which was nice because the drinks were expensive. After a couple hours, the club kicked us all off the tables to open up table service, which cost anywhere from $750 up to $25,000, so we bailed. Before we left, however, we got up and danced (which I almost never do), and I was able to surprise NikNik and Reggie from MyTechOpinion.com. I guess I didn’t tell NikNik I was able to make it out after all, because the look on her face was priceless. Sadly, I didn’t really get a minute to stop and chat with them after that.
Friday morning, Michelle and I met Krystyl on the way into breakfast. She’s a social queen who I meant to meet last year and never did. I also met Brett Bumeter from Softduit Media on the way from the Hilton to the conference and enjoyed our chats on the walk over and at the exhibitors hall. I got to see online business consultant, Jim Kukral again and finally got to meet Drew from BenSpark.com. I spent some time running around the hall, engaging in discussion with the various vendors, and I started by finally meeting Ashley Edwards from IZEA. There were several companies that I became familiar with last year and some new stuff, but there were really just a couple things I found exiting that were actually new to me.
After a little relaxing back at the hotel, Michelle and I headed to an early anniversary dinner at the Benihana Japanese steakhouse in the Hilton. It’s a bit pricey for a steak dinner, but the quality of the food was comparable to what I’d find here for the same $50/plate or so. The real reason we went was for the experience. You sit at a table with 5 or 6 strangers and the chef prepares the food in front of you. The chefs do a good job of entertaining the whole time, too. It’s half cooking and half juggling. After dinner, we headed to see the Cirque du Soleil show, KÀ, which was just amazing. The tickets were given to me in order for me to provide an honest review of it, but it will cost me because now Michelle and I are eager to go back and see the other shows.
Saturday, I headed back over to see the opening keynote, which was a celebrity-filled panel on how celebs use Twitter, essentially. It included Anthony Edwards (ER, Revenge of the Nerds), Jermaine Dupri (music mogul), Robin Antin (Pussycat Dolls), and Matt Goss (who I hadn’t heard of). Planned but cancelled was Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster) and the panel was moderated pretty well by Brian Solis. Jermaine Dupri came off as a jerk, but a lot of what he said made sense, too. I think it was just how he came across as if he were the only one who mattered that bugged me. Anthony Edwards was full of analogies and was really polite and had some important points, too, as did Matt Goss. Robin Antin didn’t seem to bring much original perspective or anything really thought-provoking to the conversation. There were some differing opinions on exactly how much you should be sharing on Twitter and on how much you should really interact with fans. In all, though, it gave me some things to think about and it changed my idea of celebrity tweeters a little. It made me feel a little more open to trying to connect with someone regardless of their celebrity status. Anthony Edwards also took a moment to send out his very first Tweet in front of us, which I thought was pretty cool.
After the keynote, I saw John Chow for the first time of the weekend, so I walked over to say hello and he noticed that the IZEA booth was empty, so we decided to take it over. I swear John Chow has all the good off-the-cuff ideas. Last year, he had a contest to give away MarketLeverage’s money and I joined in. This year, taking over IZEA was a blast and I think we did a good job, too. A little confusion about when Ashley and Ted Murphy (IZEA CEO) were supposed to be there led to a test of how much John and I knew about IZEA and its Social Spark, SponsoredTweets, and Sponzai. Eventually, a stunned (but laughing) Ashley and Ted showed up and I got to meet Ted for the first time. There was so much interest in the IZEA booth at the time (mostly from John stealing people from other booths) that even after Ted and Ashley showed up, John and I continued to field questions to help with all the overflow. What antics will John and I get into next year, I wonder.
Saturday evening was reserved for a visit with Amy, a friend of Michelle’s that she hadn’t seen in years. She and her husband, Greg, have been living in Las Vegas, so we headed over and had a good visit with them and then headed home Sunday.
If you’re a blogger and serious about it at all, you need to be at BlogWorld. If not for all the sessions, you need to go just to connect in person with people who you’ve been interfacing with online and meet new people. I was pleased to finally meet several people I’d wanted to meed for a long time and enjoyed meeting lots of new people who I hope to continue to connect with online. Next year, I think I’ll plan for all the sessions again. I skipped them this year and although I probably wouldn’t have made it to many of them due to time constraints this year, I still feel like I missed out on some valuable information and interaction. For those who didn’t go, be sure to next year and find me and say hello.