Putting on My Big Girl Spanx for the Midwest Media Moms Brands & Bloggers Summit

I have never been embraced the whole “fake it until you make it” philosophy mainly because I am scared to death of someone calling absolute B.S. on me.

That’s pretty much how I am handling this whole blog thing. Making it up one day at a time. Reading and researching as much as I can, when I can. However, it’s pretty obvious that I still have a lot to learn since Google is running this on my sidebar:

And thanks to my rich content, many people are finding my site by searching for: jockstrap mom, 2011 pucker butt, how to remove stick up husbands ass, bad rectal thermometer, drunk mommy mothers and skunk vomit.

And Facebook seems to think that running an ad with a used condom on my welcome mat would increase traffic:

Okay World Wide Web, I get the hint.  I signed up for my first blogging conference: Midwest Media Moms Brands & Bloggers Summit that took place in Chicago over the weekend. It’s the brainchild of media maven MJ Tam of Chicagonista.

My 11-year-old stylist/daughter Missy picked out the perfect outfit and accessories for me that screamed, “I am fun, put together and really don’t look like this every day. Please don’t ask me questions about SEO or metatags.”

I was walking into this not knowing a soul. Sure, I knew a few local bloggers through their little square profile pictures, but as I entered and saw all these women greeting each other as long-lost friends, my hands began to sweat.

Dammit, I wish I had a wingman.

I waited in the registration line and my eyes darted around the lobby trying to put a few of the square profile pictures to real people. Then I started to panic that maybe everyone else was doing what I do: using a three-year old picture with the Cybill Shepherd glow on a good hair day.  No one would recognize my haggard face from that photo!

Finally I spotted a familiar face: Beth Rosen, the witty BrandsBloggerRadio show host who interviewed me along with Stacey Weckstein and Amanda Mouttaki. I completely talked out my ass during the show, so God only knows what kind of impression I left. I introduced myself, then further babbled out my keister about how this was my first conference, I didn’t know anyone, yaddy yaddy yadda.

Beth was a complete doll and left her registration spot to introduce me to seasoned blogger Dawn Bertuca who was sweet enough to invite me to join her table and later share some of her tips. At the table, I met entertainment expert Jennifer Luby and Chicago insider Theresa Carter. I met some other writers from the Chicago Moms group including lovely Rita at megryansmom. Holy crap – there are a lot of flipping women bloggers! As a newbie, I am in awe and a little intimidated. Each person is essentially her own little entrepreneurship.

And damn, these are very tech savvy chicks – from the newest iPads to sleek laptops to fancy cameras. I sheepishly pulled out my faux black crocodile notebook and shove my old-school cell phone deeper into my purse. Even Missy is mortified that the phone is being willed down to her when she starts middle school. “How can I text my friends on that thing?”

It was an eye-opening experience and I learned more than my little brain could absorb. The panel and featured speakers shared loads of information and inspiration about blogging. One even wrote the book. Literally. Wendy Piersall’s new book Mom Blogging for Dummies was released that day.

Gone are the days that people can scoff at “mommy bloggers” by assuming that the content is cute baby pictures and rants about PTA meetings. These are powerful, influential women who have die-hard followers all through social media. And companies are trying to woo them to reach their built-in, faithful audience.

When someone asked the audience how many have been approached by companies to represent their brands, everyone raised their hands.

Except me.

Then I remembered I got an email asking to promote some book about parenting a Seriously Difficult Child.  “Got an angry kid?” was the pitch.  Why the hell would anyone think that? I shot my hand up, too.

I networked. I smiled. I talked too much to overcompensate my nerves.

By the time the conference was over, I was exhausted from being nice. There was an after hours party at the John Hancock observatory, but I wasn’t sure I could muster up the moxie to put myself out there all over again.

As I was schlepping out the door with my loot, I recognized Stacey, the other guest on Beth’s radio program. We broadcasted the show via phone so we never met in person, but I did creep on her site because I found her intriguing. She boldly walked away from her job to pursue her passion as a social media coach.

I fed her my blogging pick-up line that I have been using all day and found out that she was also on the edge of going to the party.

“I’ll go if you go.” She was game.

Finally — I met my wingman.

We killed the hour before the party walking around, exchanging our stories about our day jobs, our families, our goals. We caught the shuttle bus and headed up to the Hancock for an amazing view, fancy blue cocktails and lots of giggles.

My Wingman Stacey and Me Washing Big John's Windows

We met a few other women, including the amazing Jewels who created a recovery blog for women whose husbands cheated on them. Her own story was a Lifetime movie in the making. She found out that her husband was having an affair while she was eight-months pregnant with her second child. All it took was one blue cocktail on an empty stomach and I was calling her ex-husband a Giant Douchebag among other names. (She is much more dignified than me.)

Before Stacey and I knew it, we closed the party we didn’t think we could stay awake through and caught the last shuttle back.

And I was among those hugging goodbyes to my new friends. The same women I was afraid would call B.S. on me for not Tweeting or vlogging or Google+ing.

While I discovered a ton about partnering with brands at the summit, the most eye-opening lesson was learned from the entire experience. To make real connections, I just need to be me.

And that is what this blog is all about.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.mom-mom-mom.com/2011/07/19/midwest-media-moms-brands-bloggers-summit/


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  1. Amanda Mouttaki

    I’m bummed we didn’t get to meet while in Chicago this weekend but loved reading your recap!

  2. Mia

    I say big girl pants all the time….it is officially replaced by “big girl spanx”…..don’t worry I will say mom-mom-mom after every time I say it……..

  3. megryansmom

    You are a liar and a fake! There is no flippin way you need spanx! And the dress rocked, I would never have known you don’t dress like that all the time. I loved meeting you face to face Saturday and that you actually recognized me, the lowly worm on the bottom of the totem pole of bloggers.

  4. MJ Tam

    So great meeting you and thank you for this recap. I loved that you met so many great girlies at the summit.

  5. Beth

    I will be your wingman next time!

  6. Lady Goo Goo Gag

    Good for you!!! I bet you were glad you went!!

  7. Ranee

    I love this! I think your blogs are hysterical!!!!

  8. Karen

    Thanks, Amanda! We will definitely wearing matching flowers in our hair or something so we can spot each other next time. Take care~

  9. Karen

    I am a liar and a fake — but the spanx part is true! I will lift my dress over my head at the next conference. Promise.

  10. Karen

    Thank your for organizing that incredible event. Very proud and humbled to be among some big talent!

  11. Karen

    Beth, you’re on! In fact, I was kicking myself that I didn’t connect with you beforehand to see if you knew about this conference — it was a good one.

  12. Karen

    Aw, shucks — thanks for reading. Even though I am pretty used to talking to myself, your support means the world to me!

  13. Karen

    Spoken like a true lawyer. Work on getting that trademarked for me!

  14. Melisa

    What a great recap!!! I didn’t get to meet you on Saturday: maybe next year? 🙂

    I’m so glad that your first conference exceeded your expectations, and the lesson you learned was RIGHT ON!

  15. Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy

    Thanks for this recap, you met a lot of ladies I didn’t so it was great to have links to make the rounds with!!

  16. Pat

    Karen I call BS on you, you are so original and such a good person, why you felt so intimidated is beyond me. it took one conference and you will probably be the speaker in next years conference. Keep up the good job on your sight. I know it brightens up my days when I read them…
    Your the best…

  17. Bob Killen

    One heck of a plucky blog… let it all hang out as you have a very pointed sense of humor and your world view is not BS.

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