Two years ago I attended the Haven Conference. If you have no idea what the Haven Conference is, it’s a design and DIY blogging conference for home decor bloggers and influencers. It is usually held in July and most years it has been in Atlanta, Ga. I attended my first Haven Conference four months after I started my @my100yearoldhome Instagram and blog. I walked in the door on the first day and knew no one. Not a single person.
I did reach out to a few people before the Conference and made plans to meet up with them. But walking in the door that first day was tough. I held my head high and started introducing myself to anyone that gave me a friendly look. Fortunately, many of the gals I met were really nice and made me feel very welcome.
That reminds me of a very important thing. Everyone attending the conference needs to make an effort to meet people. It doesn’t matter if this is your first or your sixth Haven Conference. Nor does it matter how many followers you have on your social media. Make an effort to meet people. If you see someone sitting by themselves, make them feel welcome. If you sit at a large table at lunch, ask everyone to introduce themselves. Don’t spend all of your time with people you already know. Reach out and meet others. I truly believe networking is what makes the Haven Conference so incredible.
I learned two things at my first Haven Conference that stunned me. First, I had no idea that you could earn money working with brands. This was the most exciting concept ever and I was determined to figure this out. Secondly, I was reminded that Instagram likely will not be around forever and I needed to spend more time growing my blog with tools like SEO. At my second Haven Conference, I met some of my best friends and learned a lot about photography and editing, SEO and working with brands. I also met a lot of amazing sponsors and vendors and have worked with many of them this past year.
Did attending the Haven Conference change my life? Absolutely. I now have a full-time job as an influencer and every day I get to be creative, have fun and spend time doing what I absolutely love to do! Is it stressful? Yes. But do I love it? Definitely.
I am heading next week to my third Haven Conference and I am thrilled to be presenting an Instagram workshop (with my friend Holly @ourfauxfarmhouse) and also to serve as a mentor. I am excited (and nervous) to share some of my own experiences with others and yet I fully intend to attend every workshop and meet every sponsor. I have so much more I want to learn and Haven is the place to do exactly that.
Before the Conference
I would love to share with you some things I think you should do before you leave for the conference.
- Look at the conference schedule and decide which workshops you want to attend. Now look at it again and determine which workshops you need to attend. Try to find a compromise! I have always attended what I consider the “hard workshops” which are ones like Advanced SEO or Lightroom. Where else am I going to learn about this stuff?
- Pack lightly. Plan out your outfits and make sure you bring comfortable shoes. The most important things you will need are a portable phone charger, an easy-to-carry purse, business cards, and a small notebook to take notes. Be sure to leave a lot of room (or pack an extra suitcase) for all of the vendor swag that you will get at check-in.
- Decide who you want to meet before you go. Reach out to them in advance and give them a heads up! Do your homework and get to know the sponsors. Visit their websites and social media sites. What kind of collaborations are they doing with influencers? What types of accounts? Look further and learn what collaborations get the most engagement. Knowing this information will help so much while talking to vendors!
At the Conference
- Attend your Haven Mentor sessions. Haven does a great job by assigning every attendee to a Mentor group. This means you will instantly meet fifteen or so people and have instant friends! The first meet up with your Mentor Group is at the Welcome reception on Thursday.
- If you are new to the Haven Conference attend the Newbie event on Thursday at 5:00 pm. This is a fabulous place to meet other attendees and you don’t want to miss this!
- Attend all the sessions. Take notes and ask questions. Since most of the workshops are offered multiple times ask other attendees which workshops they liked and learned the most.
- Introduce yourself to every sponsor. Reach out to everyone with business cards and ask the sponsors how you can help them. Relationships with sponsors aren’t about how you can get free stuff. They are about how you can help a sponsor achieve their goals.
After the Conference
- Go through your notes and start implementing what you learned right away.
- Write thank you notes. Follow up with vendors.
- Follow up and create DM groups with the people you met at the Conference. Continue the conversation. Don’t ever let it stop.
I have friends from Haven that I have traveled with many, many times. We have been to sponsor events, fun weekends, and brainstorming trips. I have “self-appointed” mentors that I talk to all of the time and have helped me so much. I am in Share Groups and Collaborations with my friends from Haven. I spend at least 15% of my time every day talking with my Haven friends, sharing information and brainstorming ideas. It’s amazing!
I cannot believe the Haven Conference is next week. But I am more than excited to meet new people and learn a lot of new things. If you aren’t able to attend the Haven conference, try to make plans to attend next year. It really is that good!