It was sad to see our conference rooms empty and quiet after two days of constant buzzing that was this year’s BConnected Conference. This past weekend was bursting with so much positive energy, and was full of laughter. Seeing the empty rooms was like seeing a ghost of where all of the festivities had taken place.
When fellow blogger and conference committee member, Alyssa, and I arrived at the DoubleTree Hotel Gatineau-Ottawa the morning of the conference, our jaws dropped! I did not think that the hotel was so gorgeous! It is a new hotel as well, and the grounds were beautiful.
When we reached the large foyer of our conference rooms, we were welcomed by a sea of happy hellos, waves, and hugs as we were reunited with friends, as well as handshakes from attendees who we had connected with online, but were only meeting for the first time in person. Attendees then checked themselves in and received their BConnected Conference lanyard with many a pen and pockets to hold business cards and other articles to help keep your hands free. We also received our BConnected Swag Bags which were full of products and information provided by the sponsors of the conference.
Once breakfast was served and caffeine was consumed in the form of coffee, we settled down to get the weekend started. Our emcee this year was Ottawa blogger and podcaster, Chris Read of Canadian Dad Blog. He got the conference off to a roaring start, and everyone was excited to start learning.
All ears were peaked and many notes were being taken as Tony Perez of Sucuri Securitytook to the stage with his session, “Navigating the Online Security Landscape – Roadmap to a Safe User Experience.” He gave all who were in the room a reason to rethink the security of their site and to do what they could to protect it.
Triberr Founder, Dino Dogan, raised the energy level in the room with his session, “Why People Shared: The Art and Science of Creating Spreadable Content.” Many questions were asked, and Dino was more than happy to answer them! It gave our attendees a lot to think about.
Knives and laughter were the highlight of Nick Videto’s session, “Sharp Knives Rock,” laughter ensued as his demonstration of some gorgeous Japanese knives with food bloggers Julie Elsdon-Height and Hélène Peloquin. It was a great session to watch and learn from.
After lunch was served, José Lafleur from Outaouais Tourism, let attendees know what they needed to how to get their foot in the door to become a travel blogger during her keynote session “The Tourism Industry: A Great Playground for Bloggers.” Many attendees took a lot away with the insight José shared with them.
Secrets were revealed as David Bird from Bird’s Eye Marketing presented his session “Google Analytics: Uncovering Your Blog’s Secrets.” We learned about what details to look at to help us drive more traffic to our site, and what changes we need to make to our Google Analytics settings to help improve our blogs. We were all impressed with all of this added information.
Vanessa Chaisson from the blog Turnipseed Travel then took attendees through the truths and myths of travel blogging during her session, “So You Want to Be a Travel Blogger?” Vanessa really gave us a real look into what she does on a full-time basis. Her session really opened our eyes to what is involved in this niche of blogging, and it inspired and moved everyone listening.
Julie Harrison from the blog Coffee with Julie took attendees to class as she tested our grammar knowledge in her session, “Does Grammar Matter?” Julie got the attendees sharing their own grammar issues, then we went through some of the more common grammar problems most bloggers face when writing blog posts, and showed us how to correct them. I believe that our teacher got an “A” on her session!
Day 1 of the conference ended with our first panel session entitled “Rules of Engagement: Bloggers, Brands and Sponsorships.” Dino Dogan moderated our panel which consisted of bloggers, brands and consulting firms to discuss the relationship between bloggers and brands, what each side expects of the other and how they can work together to make a successful relationship. It was such an insightful conversation; it had all of the attendees on the edge of their seat!
Throughout both days of the conference, there were times allotted for attendees to chat with each other and to connect with some of our generous sponsors in our Exhibitor’s Hall. They provided great insight to how their businesses could create great relationships with bloggers, and how they could both benefit from each other. Our Official Photographer, Nadine Lamoureux, also had a booth set up where she took free head shots of attendees to update their profiles. Studio 157 also had a booth where they provided free 15 minute massages to attendees which were sponsored by Ann Bacciaglia of Kickass Living. Attendees signed up quickly to both of these booths to take advantage of these perks.
The mood became even lighter when the Wine and Cheese Networking party began! Outaouais Tourism generously sponsored this portion of the conference. Fun was had by all as Outaouais Tourism was celebrating Family Month as their theme for the night’s event. Games booths were set up for attendees to play and win prizes, a popcorn station served those wanting to snack on this fluffy treat, and of course, wine, cheese and crackers were available. There were also other guests that provided entertainment to the party. La Confiserie Wakefield, Choco-Motive and the Double Tree Hilton, Gatineau-Ottawa provided chocolate treats for attendees to sample. Parc Omega was also on hand with a few of their furry friends for attendees to meet! For me, the best part of event had to be the surprise we had for the Queen Bee of BConnected Conference, Lyne Proulx. The committee asked the Double Tree Hotel to create some delightful cupcakes to celebrate the conference’s birthday. She was surprised, and we were happy to make her smile!
Day 2 began with Dino Dogan delivering his keynote session “Breaking into the Media: How to Become an Authority in Your Niche and Leverage TV and Newpapers to Advance Your Blogging Career.” Dino gave a lot of helpful hints by sharing some of his experiences of going through this process. We all got a lot of information about following this pursuit.
Christy Laverty moderated our second panel session “The Media Connection: Panel Discussion on How Social Media Allows for a Conversation between Media and Its Audience.” The conference was lucky to have different members of the media participate and share their views on social media and how it has impacted the media and its audience.
Google+ Hangouts was the focus of Elaine Lindsay’s session “Google+ Hangouts ON Air, Called HOA, Are Suddenly the Hottest Ticket Around.” Elaine took us through how to set up a hangout properly, and how it could help blogs and business become more successful.
Our Lunch Keynote had Lisa Bishop-Spencer share the importance of the relationship between bloggers and brands during her session “How to Keep Your Feathers When Things Go Fowl: Bloggers, Brands and Crises.” It was great to hear from a brand’s perspective what is happening on their end when something goes wrong, and to hear how they value bloggers in these situations.
Lyne Proulx then took the stage, asking the major sponsors of the conference to join her, so she could thank them for wanting to make this year’s conference such a success.
Certified professional co-active coach and self-care advocate Tammy Plunkett got attendees thinking more about their work habits during her session “The Care and Feeding of Bloggers.” Tammy shared why bloggers needed to literally get away from the computer throughout the day to rejuvenate their minds and bodies, and why it was important to do so.
We found out about the potential of Pinterest for bloggers and business with Chantal Bechervaise from the blog Take it Personel-ly session and her session “How to Make Yourself More Pinteresting.” Chantal lead attendees through the Pinterest world and showed us how to improve the traffic to our blogs and websites through this social media channel.
Blogger and Community Manager Jennifer Pinarski ended our conference with her session “SEO from Start to Fiinsh.” Jennifer gathered the audience closer to share tips and tricks on how to optimize searches to blogs and websites, and how to write better blog posts to get more traffic going in the right direction.
Chris Read closed our conference by thanking all of our speakers and sponsors for bringing a lot of fun, learning and laughter to this year’s conference. He also thanked our attendees for making the time to want to be a part of our conference because this conference is all about them learning more about this industry, as well as to form new relationships and to rekindle old ones.
This year’s BConnected Conference was fabulous. I was not sure how the inaugural BConnected Conference was going to be topped, but this year’s event was fabulous! It had even more energy and fun, and the content was stellar. After this year’s conference, I feel as though I am more of a community. I also loved how one of the speakers realized that each session spoke to the importance of this theme and how we need to work together, whether it is between bloggers or between bloggers and brands, to succeed in this industry. All of these memories made it hard for me to want to turn around and leave our conference halls. What made it easier for me to leave was knowing we would be back to do this all over again next year! Look out for news throughout the year by following us on Facebook and Twitter to hear about what is happening for next year’s BConnected Conference!
Did you attend this year’s BConnected Conference? What was your favourite moment? If you did not attend, what you like to see for next year’s conference?