Hive conference 2013
This last weekend I spoke and attended the Hive European Blogger conference in Berlin. Unlike last year, when I wrote a blow-by-blow debrief  of days 1 and 2, this year I’ll skip it. I’m sure there will be great posts detailing out the different talks and events, so I’ll leave it to the many extraordinary blogstresses that attended to tell you about all that.

I left the conference this year feeling so energized and happy. While the content of the conference spanned from great to so-so, what was really inspiring was all the people I met; new friends and old. I tried to think about what made the weekend so special for me and these are some of the things I did that I’ll keep doing from now on.

1. Throw away my agenda. I had all these business-y goals for the event, like: ‘I need to leave the conference with x number of new affiliates’, blah blah blah. The minute I arrived I realized how tacky and, frankly, un-fun it would be trying to chase down certain people and then superficially chat with them for a respectable enough amount of time before I could make my affiliate pitch. Yuck. Totally dumb idea.

2. Be open to whomever or whatever comes my way. I like Marie Forleo’s idea that ‘This Is It’. Whatever is front of you is ‘it’ and the thing you should be giving your attention to. I made an effort to remind myself not to look around wondering if there is someone more exciting/important to talk to or stress out about being at the wrong table/talk or whatever. This allowed me to immensely enjoy whatever was happening.

At one point during a break, a gal who was at my talk began to approach me with a question just as I was just about to flag down someone that I wanted to introduce myself to. I remembered: ‘This is it’. So I let the other person walk by and turned to the gal whose name turned out to be Silkie. Not only did I find out that Silkie is the successful and talented stationery designer behind Rose Hip Cards, she generously let me pick her brain about printing, wholesale, stationery supply chain and pricing for well over an hour. It was an incredibly valuable conversation and saved me months of research. This one conversation helped me reach an important business decision by the end of the weekend (no wholesale for e.m.papers for now!) The icing on the cake is that Silkie is a warm, down-to-earth and delightful person, whom I look forward to keeping in touch with.

3. Strive for quality over quantity. Friday night there was a hosted dinner for all of the speakers at a tapas place in Kreuzberg. I was looking forward to meeting as many fellow speakers as I could. We were seated at a long table, which was cool, but not so great for circulating.

I was one of the third people to arrive, and sat down next to the super lovely Luisa Weiss from The Wednesday Chef. We hit it off immediately and got into such an interesting and lively conversation that I decided not to stress out about trying to make sure I met every single person that was there. Luckily I stayed a little later and did get to chat with some of the other speakers. I trusted there would be more time throughout the conference to get to know others as well.

4. Stick around. On day 1 there was a scheduled break between the end of the presentations and a dinner, which was also hosted at Betahaus. My plan was to go back to my friend’s flat for a disco nap. The weather was rainy and cold and I knew if I left, I wouldn’t come back, so I decided to stay. Good move.

I ended up hanging around in the reception area and having a really wonderful chat with Judith from Joelix (who wins the prize for coolest glasses), Silkie and Giova from One Bunting Away, who shared a lot of great insights about her experience at the Alt conference earlier this year.

After the final talk of the conference I fell into a deep discussion with my friend – and talented photographer -Teresa (who I met last year’s Hive) Zsuzsi of Panyisuzsi and the very stylish Juliane from Froken Skicklig. We had to leave the room because they were literally closing down, putting away and stacking all of the chairs very loudly. Teresa and I found our way to the (at this point empty) reception area and talked for another hour.  These kinds of rich conversations are, for me, one of the great joys of living.

I felt a little bit of anxiety that I forgot to say bye to some people, or got interrupted before I could thank another person, but I had faith that our paths would cross again, and also knew that I would be able to reach out with an email later.

5. Share what I know. I was (naturally) delighted when people approached me to tell me that they enjoyed my talk. The most frequent comment was that it was helpful to them and had a lot of examples and resources which were useful. I am a compulsive recommend-er (books, websites, services; whatever!) and this impulse has always served me in good stead.

I’m already looking forward to #hive14 and excited about keeping up with the great people I met on the interwebs. See you all next year (if not sooner!)