The BritMums Live conference at the weekend was a mixed bag for me.  I laughed, I cried, I had some in depth conversations and really connected with some individuals and with others I did some small talk, not really knowing what to say to them when we found ourselves stood next to each other.  Normally I love these events – I love to network, I love meeting new people, I love hearing their stories, I love switching business cards and I love it when I get to see them again at the next ‘bloggers event’ and we can be more like ‘old friends’ because we already have a sliver of shared history between us.  But for some reason this year, all I wanted to do when I left the event on Saturday evening was go somewhere private and cry.

Don’t get me wrong, the event itself I could not fault.  It was well organised, had a varied line up, interesting speakers and a good pace to it so you felt carried along by the momentum of the day- no time to be bored but on the flipside, enough downtime that you didn’t feel too rushed either.  I’m glad I did both days so I could meet some of the sponsors in the Hub on Day 1 and have more in depth chats, then I did the same on Day 2.  I didn’t need to cram everyone in, I had time to spend with each of the stands that interested me.  The disconnected feeling I had came from the atmosphere- it was not warm.

I truly believe that if the welcome is right- the first impressions, that you can forgive most things.  Other things that irritated me during the day such as when I observed rudeness, would have been mentally brushed off if I’d felt a positive vibe flowing around, but even though the Hub where the sponsors were gathered was a high energy room and was a nice place to spend time, the entrance hall with the blogger helpers sat behind their trestle tables of name badges was a bit of a downer, and unfortunately, the entrance room where you collect your name badge is where everyone passes and it sets the scene and mood for the whole event.

With the exception of Michelle Garrett who was sunshine itself, she came up to me with my name badge as I was searching the wrong table, the other ‘Greeters’ were sadly not.  Were they efficient? Yes! Did they furnish everyone with the right name badge? Yes! Did they offer directions when people were lost? Yes! Did they do it with a smile? Erm, not in my experience.  Did they sit and chat between sessions, with arms folded behind their desks? Yes! Was that an inviting reception? No.

I don’t want to sound too hard, but a massive amount of effort was made on the run up to the event to help people feel included, welcomed and wanted.  The butterflies initiative I thought was a great idea, but I wasn’t offered a sticker to put on my badge at the entrance and I only observed one person wearing one throughout the event.  The welcome is the most important thing.  If you come into my home, I want to greet you as soon as you get there (or acknowledge you at least if I’m upstairs with my hands full), I want to get you comfortable and get a drink into your hand, and after that I want to tell you to treat the place as your own, help yourself to another drink when you want one and don’t wait for me to ask.  I can sit with my arms folded and let you mill around as you wish after I’ve made sure you have been welcomed and are comfortable.

I don’t want to seem like I’m picking on the helpers.  I assume they gave their time generously to assist in the event and for that I applaud them, and I’m also assuming that they are not from a hospitality background either, so wouldn’t have had any training or any past experience.  But after a lukewarm start, the instances of rudeness that I then observed during the day amongst other bloggers was hard to shake. I felt it weighed on me and dampened my mood.  I tried really hard to get on with the event in the way I would normally, but couldn’t escape the cloud that started to form over my head.

Those who know me will say that I’m confident, bubbly, maybe they might say ‘larger than life’ (but to be honest I don’t see this necessarily as a good thing), but if they really know me they also know that I care a great deal about other people.  I care if someone is having a crap day and I will offer a few words of encouragement to cheer them up, I care if someone has done really well and I’ll be the first to say “Bloody well done!”  I care about things that other people care about even if they are not interesting to me, but I listen and try to relate in some way because it obviously matters to them, I just care. I cried after BritMums because I felt like I’d seen instances where people don’t.

There was the person I heard bitching about something another person had said to them.

There was the heavy handed iPad tapper whose note taking was shaking the table for everyone else.

There was the panellist who kept interrupting everyone else who I’m sure thought her points and noise-making were being helpful and encouraging, but they really were not.

There was the person who stole a toy from the Disney stand which I learned about after reading a tweet which told them to ‘put it back’.

Since the event which ended less than 48 hours ago, I’ve learned from two other people that they cried after the event too.  Not for the same reasons as me, but isn’t that strange?  Was it a full moon or something?  Were we all just feeling particularly hormonal?  I’m not sure.  But there is something I do know and it is a saying that I live my life by.

“People will forget what you say to them but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

So to end on a positive note, I want to thank some fellow bloggers who did make me feel good over the weekend, as positive praise deserves public recognition.

Big love and thanks to:

Amy at ‘And 1 More Means Five‘ for helping me through a bird’s nest/ barnet type crisis

Susanna at A Modern Mother and BritMums for taking the time to speak to me as if I was her only priority in that moment, even though she must have been extremely busy

Sian at Geek is the New Chic for being warm, inclusive and welcoming when I went up to speak to her and her friend.  If she was a stick of rock, she’d have ‘humane’ written on the inside, running right through her

who was the friend of the above for talking to me as if I were in the gang too, and we’d only just met.

Jacqui at Mummy’s Little Monkey, Peggy at Perfectly Happy Mum, Ellen at In A Bun Dance and Ruth at GeekMummy for just being their usual awesome, smiling, lovely selves who I very much look forward to seeing at each conference.

The pretty blonde girl I don’t know who approached me at the cloakroom to thank me for sending her my BiBs Finalist press release, and saying it got her some coverage! Yay!

Penny at Alexander Residence who I’m enjoying getting to know and well done to her on her win in the BiBs Final- Video category! If I had to lose, I’m not sad that it was to her!


Christine Beardsell who led a fantastic workshop on video blogging – a very switched on lady with a brain I’d love to pick!  I’m just sad that there was a time restraint because I could have listened to her all afternoon.

Did you have a good event?  Tell me your happy news!

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22 Responses to BritMums Live: Am I Being a Crybaby?

  1. Helpful Mum says:

    It was lovely to meet you (albeit as we were leaving). I didn’t see any of the butterflies the whole time I was there but I would have loved to join in. I found the vast majority of people to be really friendly and open. There were a few people I found to be just plain rude but I can’t believe someone stole a toy from the Disney stand. That really disappoints me.

  2. Nadine says:

    Hi- it was lovely to meet you too! You are right, the vast majority of people were friendly and open thankfully! But I think I just felt a little disconnected over the weekend. Anyhoo, today is a new day and I got kiddie hugs as soon as I got home which made my cup runneth over! Kiddie hugs will fix anything I find!

  3. Not a crybaby at all. It’s a very intense experience – not quite a conference, not quite a reunion and not quite a ‘retreat’. In my limited experience a blogging event is going to have an affect, one way or the other.
    Thank you for your public speaking advice – spot on.

  4. Nadine says:

    Thanks Ellen. It’s odd, I’ve never left a conference feeling this way before. I must have been having one of those days. It is easier to deal with however when you are in your home surroundings with those you love!
    I’m so glad the speaking tips helped:-)

  5. Sian says:

    Thank you for your kind words, I’m sending you a massive virtual hug right now.
    I felt a lot of negativity over the weekend but then when you are totally blanked by all of the organisers its par for the course I guess. I’m holding your humane comment close. I will remember it always. X

  6. Hey. It’s here, thanks for such kind words. I’ve read a few posts about the atmosphere. And I do agree xx

    I’m with you on the reception thing, when we arrived we were told to help ourselves and that was it. No conversation / direction … someone who arrived at the same time as us was also asked us what to do, we were all “dont know, not our conference” – not snarkily, because we didn’t genuinely know. Not right.

    I type this from experience, I have worked both the two Cybermummy receptions, where everyone was giving a cheery hello, hugs where appropriate (and possibly when not appropriate too) and we ensured that we set the tone.

    I also did the logistics side of things at Cybher, and when I briefed our team of helpers it was all about tone and atmosphere, reception coordinated properly is hard work.

    At Cybher it took us about 25 mins to get the majority 350 people checked in badge, satchel and general chit chat – the atmosphere from the day was charged and that is, because like your quite rightly said set the tone. I dont for one minute think there were 500 bloggers to get through reception at BML … no way, knowing the capacity of that venie, that doesn’t sound right – obviously if all rooms were filled, but there wasnt 500 people in the main room… so it can’t be for that reason. I suspect the staggered arrival of people meant a lack of focus.

    I wouldn’t blame the helpers either, I suspect a total lack of briefing or something and it didn’t look good which sets a bad tone.

    Anyway… I am essay writing here. See what happens when you get me going about something I know about. L

    ovely to meet you, hope to chat again soon (virtually or otherwise) xxx

  7. Nadine says:

    Thanks Sian and Claire for your comments.
    Claire, it is an interesting point you make about the staggered arrival time. This is true- when people are arriving at different times I guess it is easy to lose focus. I was at CybHer this year too and as we all arrived at once and queued up to get our badge and satchel, there was a buzz in the crowd. There was energy and smiles- the bloggers bounced off each other as we were all so excited to be there. As the entry was a concentrated part of the day, it made for a buzzier atmosphere overall. It’s amazing isn’t it how these tiny details make such a huge difference?
    Anyway, thanks for stopping by my blog- much appreciated!

  8. Melaina25 says:

    I thought the butterfly thing had been scrapped as I wasn’t offered stickers either and only saw one person with about 10 on their badge…

  9. Nadine says:

    Hi Melania25
    I saw a pin on Pinterest yesterday with a photo of the Butterfly women. I think there were 4 and they looked a happy bunch but I didn’t see them during the day.
    The Butterfly initiative was a great idea. I hope it gets used again in the future, but more visible!
    Thanks for commenting x

  10. Nadine I thought you were amazing, it was a real pleasure to hang out with you and that meant lots to me given we’d been in the same category. You are the most selfless, thoughtful, fun person to hang out with. I was gutted I hadn’t got to say goodbye to you :(

    Butterflies, we welcomed loads of people on arrival and made connections on twitter beforehand, but I’ll admit we struggled, it was too much for 4 people, we only covered breaks this year for example, and we had some great conversations at the end about how we can make it even bigger and better next year. It needed a big team and a rota, you’d be amazing as one. I’m really keen to hear people’s ideas on this, but I think we proved it was necessary and we need a proper base!

    I had a very low time at another conference, so many factors interweaved for me, very few to do with the conference itself – I think this time I just got lucky with running into smiles at the the right time.

    Big hug, sorry it was too late xx

  11. PS Nadine I WAS a butterfly, I hope that some of the butterfly effect rubbed off on Friday, just wish I’d seen you on Saturday for another HUG! Thanks for your lovely words about me, you know how much I LOVE your vlogs, you’re a natural on camera ;)

  12. Nadine says:

    Aww thanks Penny! Your comments made me smile! I’ll take a virtual ((hug))!!
    I didn’t know you were a butterfly – I didn’t see a sticker on your badge (unless I was just being blind?!) But being an official butterfly is something I think I would be great at and would love to do it next time. I agree- it needs a bigger team than just 4 people.
    Thank you also for your first paragraph- that means a lot.

  13. Hi, another butterfly here! I’m sorry that you and some of the other commenters didn’t find us. I was stood at the top of the stairs as everyone went into the hub giving out stickers at the start – it was a bit mental so totally possible that you may not have seen us. During the 2 days it was difficult to remain visible in such a crowd whilst also making sure that we got to experience the event ourselves – we had paid for our own tickets and didn’t want to miss out either.
    Hopefully there will be more of us around next year. Sorry I didn’t get to meet you this time.

  14. Nadine says:

    Hi Seasider
    I wish I’d have seen you- I have since seen a picture of three of the Butterflies on Pinterest and you look like great fun!
    Hopefully next year there will be more Butterflies- a good solution might be if the organisers give butterfly stickers to the ladies at the badge table to hand out with the name badges, then have you ‘mobile butterflies’ to flit around doing the general greeting and welcoming!
    Anyway, I will put this suggestion onto the BritMums Live feedback form that I’ve been sent- as soon as I get chance to complete it!
    Thanks so much for your comment – hope we meet at the next one!

  15. Hello Nadine. I wanted to thank you for your lovely comment on my blog. This was my first conference so I had nothing to compare it with, but I am really interested to read your thoughts.I thought the butterfly idea was a good one,and I thought the reason I cried was more to do with me really and the fact I was by myself. Maybe it did have something to do with what you have written. I find, after the event,that I feel I really learned a great deal and the people who have come over to my blog and commented have made me feel very supported.
    I will definitely add you to me friends and I hope next year we can share a cup of tea or maybe even a wine?!
    Take care. Sarah

    • Nadine says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Let’s definitely do the cuppa/wine thing next year! I’m so glad you feel supported from your blog comments. This is what I think is the best thing about blogging- we make friends and are a great supportive group in general.Thanks for commenting- it means a lot.

  16. kate says:

    Sigh, totally agree with you on the butterfly thing, couldn’t find them for love nor money and as a newbie its hard to go up to total strangers! Personally I had an ok time, but for only ok I’m not sure I’d do it again.

    • Nadine says:

      It is hard to go up to total strangers, I hope you managed to find one or two friends in the group. I think there should be more butterflies next year- I think this would help.

  17. Susanna says:

    Nadine, you would make a prefect butterfly! Can i sign you up for next year? Sorry I didn’t chat longer and thanks for your thoughtful, well worded feedback. No excuses, it was a busy day. Our ethos is to be friendly to everyone and make them feel welcome.

  18. Nadine says:

    Hi Susanna
    I would love to be a butterfly next year and without sounding too immodest, I think I would be a great butterfly! I think you just need more of them- lots of smiley happy people who will ‘own’ the role and take responsibility to make sure every single person through the door is welcomed. The poor butterflies this year had about 125 people each to welcome if you look at the numbers- it is impossible!
    It was deffo a busy day, I’m planning to fill in your feedback form as soon as I come up for air and am sure you will get some useful feedback to take on board for next time. I got a lot out of the conference from a ‘learning’ viewpoint. It was just the social side for me that made me feel let down

  19. geekmummy says:

    Oh Nadine, what a shock to read you had a bit of a rough experience – you’re such a bubbly, cheery person it comes as a real surprise to read that you cried after the event. People have very very different experiences at these things, and this obviously wasn’t a good one for you. I hope that won’t put you off attending future events though – you’re one person I always love to connect with. I wish I’d sought you out more now. Next time, lovely! *hugs*

    • Nadine says:

      Aww thanks Ruth! I definitely won’t be put off attending future events. Big ((hug)) and see you soon xx


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