Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the She's Connected Conference here in Toronto, and I knew I had to recap it for y'all. The She's Connected Conference (hereby referred to as SCCTO) seeks to connect "digital women" (bloggers and other social media mavens) with Canadian brands, creating connections and opportunities for growth and partnership. I previously wrote about the conference within the larger context of discussing digital diversity, so I was very interested to see how the 2-day conference would play out.
First thing I noticed: sponsorship was on ten. Ford Canada, Telus, and McDonalds (just to name a few) were major sponsors of the conference, and there's no way you could miss it. From the Ford vehicle activities to the free McCafe lattes and smoothies to the Telus charging stations, we were well taken care of. Swag bags were more like swag suitcases - so many goodies! Personalized T-shirts, pens galore, notebooks, makeup and skin care products - and that was before we walked around the main exhibit room, collecting more fun things from vendors like Maple Leaf Foods, Adult Essentials, IÖGO, and more.
Eventually, it was time to settle into the breakout sessions. Multiple sessions were scheduled at the same time, but luckily I was able to attend all of the panels and presentations I wanted to without too much conflict. My favourite panels? Writing And Pitching To Magazines (with editors from Today's Parent, Chatelaine, iVillage, and Huffington Post Canada), How To Create A Sponsorship Package (by the hilarious Raj of Pink Chai Style), Speaking To The Media (with Preet Banerjee,), and All About SEO (by Jennifer Osborne, President of Search Engine People). For me, all of these panels spoke to what I was looking for, and I had ample time to connect one on one with the speakers to introduce myself, share a business card, and make a deeper connection.
The keynote speaker was Kate White, former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine (she stepped down in September). She was DOPE! Her major points were that as women going after success, we have to "go big or go home" - through her own personal experience, she showed us how she worked her way to the top (including a story about how she asked for $50,000 - and got it). She was majorly inspiring, and was the perfect keynote for a roomful of women who are all striving for our own forms of success.
I was really looking forward to the Multicultural Bloggers panel, but SCCTO removed it from the agenda when they final version came down. Instead, we met up at a designated "Multicultural Bloggers" table during the morning networking break, and I met some awesome ladies. The discussions we had at that table led me to believe that a panel or more formal session would have been very welcome, because that networking table wasn't nearly enough time. Hopefully next year, they'll leave it in. Speaking of, I know a number of people asked me how diverse the attendees were - and it was really what I expected. Most of the women I met were mommy bloggers, or somehow geared towards blogging about family/children. Culturally, the attendee group was largely Caucasian - all I could think about were the awesome digital women of colour I know who could have really benefited from the conference, and hopefully they'll jump on it next year!
Overall, the positives for me were meeting so many cool Canadian bloggers, Kate White's keynote, the panel sessions I mentioned above, and the really cool gift bags and products from the sponsors and vendors. The negatives were varied as well. The panels that I didn't enjoy either had presenters who weren't great public speakers, or who were presenting material that was common sense or way too general. There was a lot packed into the 2 days, so by the time 8pm rolled around (the start time both nights for separate evening parties), I was ready to go to bed. I missed both night events out of sheer exhaustion, and from other accounts it seems like a lot of women shared the same tired sentiment. It was also interesting (and somewhat jarring) to feel the palpable difference between people who were blogging for the love of writing or their subject matter, and those who were CLEARLY blogging to make a buck or "get famous". It really made me sit back and think about what my purpose is in this whole blogging thing, and to be honest - I'm happy with what I'm doing and where I plan to take it.
So, the big question - will I go again next year? We'll see. Like anything else, your experience is what you make it - however, when you're paying upwards of $200, you expect a little help in making that experience the best it can be. By next year, I'll have another year of blogging under my belt, so I'm sure my needs and interests will be different. If SCCTO has plans for speakers and knowledge sessions and events that I feel will speak to what I'm dealing with, I'm there. Shoot - if they want me to jump on board as a speaker, I'm down for that too! Overall, I thank She's Connected with organizing an event of this magnitude, dedicated to Canadian women and Canadian brands moving into the digital era. It's serious business, so I can't wait to see how things grow from here!
There you have it - my quick rundown of the She's Connected Conference 2012! Were you there? What did you think? If you weren't there and have any questions about the conference, let me know! And did anyone get my "analog girl in a digital world" reference? If you did, bonus points for you!