Advice For First-Timers at Food Blogging Conferences

Next week, I’m visiting Salt Lake City for the first time to attend the Everything Food Conference (EFC). I’m looking forward to rubbing elbows with fellow food fanatics and learning a thing or two about how to add more value for my dear readers.

I asked for advice about what a first-timer to a food blogging conference should know. A wealth of valuable insights poured forward in the EFC Facebook group. To give back to the generous community, I’m compiling all the tips as a single resource. Hopefully, it will be easier to scan through than the multi-threaded post as you go through the conference next week.

Karyls Kulinary Krusade

  • “If you’re not accustomed to wearing heels, don’t wear them! Two years ago I got WAY overdressed and wore heels on the first day, and absolutely hated myself 2 hours in
  • As others have said, definitely stay hydrated! Last year I got a couple of gallon bottles of water from Target and kept it in my room to refill as needed.
  • The altitude is no joke if you’re not used to it. I kept Aleve handy and that really helped my altitude headaches
  • ” – Karyl Henry, Karyls Kulinary Krusade

Fork & Lens Studio

  • “Share notes! If there are 2 sessions you want to go to that happen at the same time, find a buddy who’s attending the other session and grab their notes. Presentation slides (and videos) are always shared after the conference, but notes from first hand perspective can be invaluable!
  • And don’t ever be afraid to approach or talk to anyone – blogger or speaker! In my experience, the people that attend EFC are notorious for being kind, friendly, and always willing to share their knowledge!” – Erica Acevedo, Fork & Lens Studio

The Stay At Home Chef

  • “Don’t fan girl anyone. Play it cool and treat absolutely everyone as an equal. If you want to meet someone specific, you can definitely do that, but be cool.
  • Be willing to say yes. Be flexible enough that you can say yes. You never know who will invite you to a meal or to hang out.
  • Sit by someone in every class and introduce yourself. It’s a guaranteed way to meet new people.
  • Bloggers skew on the introverted side. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt that they really are friendly. They just may not be good at showing it. I promise, 99.9% of the people there are super friendly. I always leave room for someone having a bad day otherwise it would be 100%.
  • Go to the classes you’d like, but if you are really connecting in the hall, that’s cool too.
  • Business cards are for brands, probably not other bloggers. Seems like the cool kids stopped giving them out to other bloggers a while ago. I’m always late to those kinds of things.
  • If you connect with someone, friend them on Facebook. Way better than a business card.
  • Take everything anyone teaches with a grain of salt. I’ve spoken at a lot of conferences and I’d prefer the audience to question everything I say and decide for themselves what applies to their business and what doesn’t. We are all in the same industry, but our businesses are very different. There’s no one way to do anything (except like follow the law. Oftentimes that is pretty straightforward).

    It’ll be great! I love EFC!
  • Oh and don’t wear a sequin jacket. It’s fun but it shines on everyone’s faces makes elevator rides weird.” –Rachel Farnsworth, The Stay At Home Chef

Jonesin’ For Taste

  • “Don’t worry too much about what you wear. I wore dresses last year and I was on the dressier side but I was comfy so it was fine. Plenty of people where jeans. Leave room for all the goodies. I won an Anolon pan last year and was pressed for room to take it home.
  • [About business cards] I bought way too many for conference last year. I handed out maybe 40. I also hand them out to anyone who asks what I do. They are much more likely to check out my page and then follow me rather than trying to remember my blog name.” – Jade Jones, Jonesin’ For Taste

Simply So Healthy

The Adventure Bite

  • “Most cliques are just friends who haven’t seen each other in ages.
  • We are all fatter in person ? don’t be so hard on yourself.
  • Pack in a carry on and transfer to a full sized suitcase.
  • Research brands before hand if you want but know that you don’t need to pitch them at the conference. Just get to know them, get their card and follow up.
  • Agree on the no fan clubbing. But also recognize some people are high and mighty and get a trip out of that.
  • Sit with someone new as much as possible. We all came to learn and connect you won’t offend.
  • But also try not to be offended when people pair off or go to dinner with a group. It’s not unlikely that those 20 minutes at dinner are the only time friends get to catch up in person in 1-3 years.
  • Notebook vs laptop for sure. Keep your purse light.
  • Buy two cell phone chargers and extra battery packs. Yours will die and you are guaranteed to make a friend with power problems ?” – Dani Meyer, The Adventure Bite

Mindful Avocado

  • “Wear what you’re comfortable in! I love jeans and wore them everyday. Don’t be worried about making friends because you most certainly will. Also, even if you think you can pack everything in a carry on (avid light packer here) you need a check in sized bag for all the swag you get ?” – Amanda Sager, Mindful Avocado

Idaho Potato Commission

  • “Sponsors don’t expect you to have a pearl necklace, be comfortable as there is a lot of walking and sitting if you are networking. Sponsors do like business cards and media kits, makes it much easier for follow-up.
  • Extra suitcase or plan to buy something cheap at Walmart, I think you should consider a small beverage cooler and some tape to seal it shut with fun samples.” – Don Odiorne, VP Foodservice at Idaho Potato Commission

Restless Chipotle

  • “If you like wine pack some in your checked luggage
  • $$$$$ plus it’s a great icebreaker to invite a bunch people to have some wine with you in your room” – Marye Audet-White, Restless Chipotle

Lori’s Culinary Creations

  • “The guide says the conference rooms and hallways are chilly. I found them downright freezing. Be sure to have a warm sweater. I had to run out to Walmart last year and go buy one.” – Lori Hart, Lori’s Culinary Creations

The Gingered Whisk

  • “Bring a bigger sized suitcase than you need, but also remember you don’t HAVE to take everything home with you! Dress in what makes you happy and comfy.” – Jenni Ward, The Gingered Whisk

Simple Healthy Kitchen

  • “I brought a sturdy reusable shopping bag with me last year. One with long handles so I could easily put all the sponsors swag in the bag and carry it over my shoulder so my hands were free while visiting sponsor booths.” – Susan Randall, Simple Healthy Kitchen

Loaves And Dishes

  • “So, I’m pretty introverted and get very tired from constantly being around people. If you are this way, find a way to get some alone time during the day. The days are LONG and its a TON of people all day every day. Meals and everything. Whew. Exhausting. Secondly, make sure you have plenty of water to drink. Pack some snacks that fit in line with whatever you usually eat. All meals don’t fit every taste – I mean how could they? Its literally hundreds of people attending.” – Wendi Spraker, Loaves And Dishes

Busy Creating Memories

  • “The Layton water IS drinkable, but as someone who grew up on fresh well water – I think it tastes nasty. lol. So grabbing some bottled water is a great idea if you are sensitive to the taste of water
  • This part of Utah is notorious for having quick shifting weather. It can be sunny in the morning, raining and even snowing by noon, and then beautiful again in the evening. Be prepared for both cold, warm, and wet. It’s the beginning of May, so it’s possible to have hot, cold, rain or snow. Or all of them. 
  • The Davis conference center- if you are used to warm temperatures, you may want a jacket or sweater. I’ve been at the conference center in Jan-Feb and it’s been perfectly warm. But also been there in Nov and it was really cold. You never know what to expect so layers are a good idea.” – Amber Edwards, Busy Creating Memories

Higher Seasonings

  • “I bring a water bottle and powdered drinks packets-like EmergenC- to mask the flavor and not waste plastic-just my tip so I don’t have to carry bottles around” – Gina VanderKooi, Higher Seasonings LLC

The Brooklyn Cook

  • “Water! If you aren’t used to altitude make sure you know the symptoms, I always feel like I have a cold, but it’s the altitude ? also it’s ok to chill in the hallway or hotel lobby by yourself and decompress, most of us are introverts and need it too ?” – Michelle Boulé, The Brooklyn Cook

Fine Foods Blog

  • “Get some cards! Yes they are essential for conferences, but you wouldn’t believe how many I hand out just talking to people around town and in my social circle. If your blog is not your name, how will they remember? I just gave some out at a baby shower on Saturday. I’ve given them to salespeople at Crate and Barrel and checkers at Trader Joe’s. When you tell people you write a blog and they say “really?” you just hand them the card. And I always tell people when I hand them my card to subscribe to my email. That way they don’t have to remember to check the blog for new recipes – I’ll just deliver them to their inbox. And I feel like it makes more of an impression on people and they are likely to tell their friends – “I met this food blogger today…” if they get a card.” – Debra Cummings, Fine Foods Blog
Anna looking down chopping vegetables
About Anna Rider

Hi! I'm Anna, a food writer who documents kitchen experiments on GarlicDelight.com with the help of my physicist and taste-testing husband, Alex. I have an insatiable appetite for noodles 🍜 and believe in "improv cooking".

10 thoughts on “Advice For First-Timers at Food Blogging Conferences”

  1. Oh Anna this was one of the best threads ever and so awesome of you to put it all together! I cannot wait for next week and meet everyone, especially you 🙂

    Reply
  2. This is awesome, Anna! Thanks for pulling it together. I loved the “don’t fan girl” comment. I wonder if there will be famous people there, or just famous food bloggers…..

    Reply
    • Haha yeah it was a great tip from Rachel. Depends on who you count as “famous”. Certainly famous bloggers. Pat Flynn will be there. Does he count?

      Reply
  3. Thanks for compiling all these tips – so helpful!! I can’t wait to attend my first EFC next week 🙂 It’s going to be so much fun. Hopefully we get a chance to meet!

    Reply
    • Hi Jenna,

      You’re welcome. Hope it helps. I know it’ll help me to have 1 place to look. Very much looking forward to meeting you next week as well. Please say hi if you see me!

      Reply

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