Things I Learned At TBEX 2011

I am certain I am not the first, and I am certain I will not be the last, but I figured I should add my .02 to the conversation about TBEX 2011 and what I thought of it. I'll be posting more over the next week or so about some of the many things I did while in Vancouver, BC attending TBEX.  Here is my list:
  Put yourself out there.  Don’t be afraid to go up to people you don’t know and talk to them.  You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.  You never know when you might make a good connection, meet one of your favorite bloggers, or learn something new.  If they don't want to talk, or the conversation is awkward, then just move along.  There's plenty of people to talk to.

Get your social media stuff in order.  If you have a twitter account, make sure your tweets are not protected.  If they are protected, then no one can see them unless they are following you! I finally realized this and once I unprotected my twitter account, TBEX was my oyster!  I was able to participate in what was going on at TBEX, the number of followers and people I follow increased a lot, and it made my experience that much better.

Bring business cards.  Even if you are just a small fish in a big sea of bloggers, bring a basic business card with your name, email address, phone (if you want to), blog address, and twitter handle.  Make sure you order them at least 30 days before TBEX or you might have to resort to using a pen/paper.  It's a good idea to write a short note on the back of the card about the conversation so you can remember later.  I like Moo cards, but they take a while to arrive and mine didn’t arrive before I left.  Boo!  I had to resort to my VistaPrint calling cards, which just don’t have the same “oooh….ahhhh” factor as the Moo cards.

Arrive early and/or stay late.  I came to Vancouver two days before TBEX started and still found myself wishing I had more time to explore and see things.  Try to come early to the city TBEX is located in so you can take part in pre-event activities and sightsee on your own.  It gets busy at the conference and you may find yourself with very little free time to explore.  If you can’t come early, think about staying a little bit late.

Keep notes and take pictures.  Take a small notebook (I prefer Moleskine notebooks) and a pen so you can write down notes, thoughts, and details to help you remember the people you have met and talked to.  Bring a camera, too.  Take lots of pictures!

If your needs are not being met, do something about it.  Don’t be afraid to plan a meet-up for bloggers who share your niche or just for people who want to meet up.  It’s the best way to meet people.  I noticed that there wasn't anything for LGBT Bloggers, so I created a Twtvite and a few people showed up who I wouldn't have met otherwise.  Be pro-active!

DO NOT FORGET YOUR TOOTHBRUSH!  Yeah, I did.  Guess how much it cost to replace?  $5 CDN at the corner market down the street from the hostel.  Ouch!  The budget traveler in me cringed when I found out the price.  Later on, I found out there was a drug store a few blocks in the other direction where I could have purchased one for less.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.

Do any of you bloggers who attended TBEX have other contributions for what they learned at TBEX?  Leave them in the comments section.