I had a great time meeting other passionate foodies, talented bloggers, and overall cool peeps who I hope to see again...maybe even in my time zone. I went to Foodbuzz Fest with the goal of networking, learning from older bloggers, and of course eating...so I didn't focus as much on taking photos and notes, but more on the experience and reflection. I know many of you are reading because you want to know what happened, so I decided to share with you a video shot by Lynn from The Actor's Diet so that you can get an idea of what we were doing for three days in San Francisco:
As you can see, that's a lot to take in...did I mention the constant flow of food and drink!? On my flight home I began thinking about how I wanted to cover the event. I went in knowing I didn't want to blog about everything I ate or every second of the Festival, but I was still unsure of my angle because I want you guys to see what happened from my perspective. Then it hit me: a top 10 pieces of advice list. So, here is what I learned from the Festival and some tips (in no particular order) for those who are already thinking about and saving for Foodbuzz 2011:
- Assuming you have no life threatening allergies, try everything. There is an insane amount of food and drink there. I ate everything, not because I'm greedy, but that's why I came! Some things that I don't normally like such as beer, chocolate, marshmallows, mushroom soup, odd textures, or pork were all fair game and much to my delight I even liked some of them. I would have never discovered that I do like some of these things when prepared a specific way had I not just gone all in, so don't miss out--eat the Festival.
- Be humble, be brave. In general, I know that some people are shy, which is cool. Put on your name tag and slap on a grin I guarantee someone will approach you and say "what's up." I want to break this down even more to give some advice for the old heads and fellow newbies. Newbies, I know you have your blog stars (or bloggers you follow regularly) and it may be intimidating to introduce yourself to them, but do it! They're bloggers too. Now don't be a creeper about it, just be polite and your sweet little self. Now for you blog stars, remember humble pie tastes good. We know you're fancy now but don't forget that your readers and groupies are large parts of your success and fabulousity so be nice, even if they're a little intense you can always scurry off after a brief "hello."
- Don't go all east coast, west coast and by that I mean respect various blogging angles. There are vegan, vegetarian, grilling, farm-to-table, gluten-free, allergy sensitive, eat the world, restaurant review, recipe focused, and many other types of blogs and its important that we don't get just stick with bloggers who write similar content. I think that we can all learn something from each other be it a recipe or a technical skill.
- Be realistic, you're not going to meet everyone-- statistically impossible. If you arrive with the mission of meeting every single blogger there you will eventually look like a cracked out squirrel because you'll be rushing about, not the best first impression. Instead, try to focus on meaningful connections and conversations rather than "meeting" people by passing out business cards to everyone in attendence.
- Know your brand, have some swagger. You must have business cards, non-negotiable this is a grand networking opportunity. But in addition to cards, some bloggers had stickers, buttons, food, and other things with their brand on it which brings out your true swaggger as a blogger. Some who caught my eye and got me thinking more about branding in Fro and a Fork's future: Greg and his SippitySup! sweatshirts, Linda with her salt business vials, and Stephanie's brilliant iPad usage to promote her new site, Foodiacs.
- Explore Foodie Mecca, yes I mean leave Foodbuzz events or come early/leave later I mean, hello, its San Fran. Go to Little Italy, Chinatown, candy shops, restaurants, and coffee shops outside of the organized events and outside of the direct Foodbuzz radius. This is easier if you come into town earlier, but I was able to get it in and was only in town for a bit.
- Bring a checked bag! So many goodies to bring back, all security nightmares! Knives, shears, meat thermometers, food and drink samples...trust me, you do not want to leave your swag bag behind, so its well worth the baggage fee!
- Play nice... This may seem obvious but be nice, respectful and courteous to Foodbuzz Staff, vendors, catering staff, and fellow bloggers. Take the time to say thank you to Foodbuzz staff, outside vendors, and wait staff and be nice to fellow bloggers even if you don't "click" or like their style of blogging for whatever reason, to each their own and I promise we'll all have a good time!
- Be yourself and be honest. If you don't know someone's blog, don't pretend you do trust me, they will know you're BS-ing which will then make things awkward. Also don't be ashamed of your blog (which can be easy if you're talking with "blogger royalty"), be confident in your site even if its just 2 days old: work it, own it.
- Remember to have fun! Its so easy to get caught up in the photo taking, video shooting, post planning, and note taking to forget to actually enjoy the festival! So, take your eye out of your lens and network with fellow foodies and enjoy yourself...this is a festival afterall!