Sunday, November 18, 2018

Why Do I Need to Go to the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference?

"Do you know the dates for the 2019 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference yet? I don't want to have to choose between several events." ~ A fellow blogger 

food allergy event that I can attendTrying to compare the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference to other events or expos is like comparing apples to oranges. Granted, if you have never attended the conference, then I can understand why someone may not know what sets it apart from other food allergy events. Since knowledge is power, I thought I would shed a little light on this question in hopes that some new faces will join us in 2019 and future years to come.

#FabLogCon The official hashtag for the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. The first difference is that this is a conference, not an event or expo. It is open to anyone, not just those with food allergies. This conference welcomes products, organizations, non profits, medical professionals, parents, caregivers.....I could continue but truly, it's an open door for anyone who needs information and support or for those who want to help by sharing information and support. Similar to events and expos, the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference includes an Expo Hall as part of their schedule and speakers for classes. However, let me clarify why these are even better than what you will find at an event or expo.

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  • The Expo Hall has multiple advantages for attendees and vendors. Open for two hours the first day and eight hours the second day, the Expo Hall is a one-stop collection where vendors can freely share their products and product information. Samples and giveaway items as well as product demonstrations are also welcomed. All of the attendees can mingle, wander or walk in and out of the Expo Hall at any time and a raffle is also a part of taking time to speak with the vendors (each table gets an attendee one raffle ticket for a giveaway). By having this laid back scene, there is less pressure on exhibitors to feel a typical "rush to fill the attendees with our stuff and give them a few seconds of information" which is typically found at events and expos. At the Expo Hall, attendees love personal interaction with each exhibitor- they want to be able to take their time, find out about your products and are always hoping to form new relationships and/or professional partnerships. From a marketing point of view, most companies would pay a PR agency a lot more to get them the number of potential connections that they can reach out to at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. In the Expo Hall, it's never about competition but it's always about hugs, handshakes, photos, business card exchanges and engaging each other on a relaxed level. 
  • The Classes Yes, events and expos do also have classes and/or speeches that you can sit in on. The main difference is that I find them to be a bit more structured. From the classes that I have attended at other events, very often they are held in large, echoey parts of an auditorium or open exhibit hall. Although I can see it's set up that way to utilize the space that the event has, it very often feels less personable, tends to be a bit more challenging to hear the speaker(s) clearly and doesn't truly lend itself as being an interactive class v.s a listening/watching class. In events and expos, you are more likely to be seated as a large group in front of the
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    presenter(s) in chairs without a notepad, without a table to lean on and without feeling like you are allowed to ask too many questions. Most of the presentations at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference are in banquet rooms with tables and chairs, extra notepads and pens and an abundance of coffee and water. Audience participation is always encouraged because these classes are not just about people wanting to hear themselves talk- it's also about what the attendees can learn and the questions that they have that they normally wouldn't be able to ask without paying to have a professional answer their questions correctly.
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So, what did I do this year? I have to say, as a food allergy mother/blogger/consultant/author/Volunteer Manager and whatever else I am currently doing with insane passion, I felt like I did just about a little bit of everything this time. In past years, I felt like the days were too short (or the conference was too short) because you are trying to keep up with the scheduled classes that you want to take but wait, then it's time to eat (again) but WAIT I need to take a picture and hug this person....AFTER I eat more of this amazing Vegan chocolate whatever. Truly, my head is always spinning with a mixture of passion, gratitude, happiness, support and the feeling of regaining or recharging my empowerment. I do not attend the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference for myself only- I attend because I have this unstoppable need to continue to help others. So, while I am meeting new people and scheduling business meetings in between my flight and the beginning of the classes, I am also using all of this knowledge to empower myself for others around me as well. I always tell people that when I began blogging, I wanted to help. Not one single day has gone by that I woke up and said "I can't do this anymore, I'm tired of it." Instead, when I have days when I question my abilities, I get confirmation from a simple email or comment from someone that says "Thank you, you helped me today". It's like new layers that you never knew you had because knowledge keeps growing and changing and so does our community. This is what keeps me coming back for more. This conference is my battery backup- just when I think I am losing momentum, I am regenerated from the people that I meet.

food allergy supportIn conclusion (there has to be a conclusion otherwise I will continue to ramble and most of you will probably not want to read anymore) I want to thank Jenny Sprague who began this amazing event for all of us. She brings us together every year and her energy and passion is simply magical. I want to thank Backpack Health for sponsoring me at this year's event but also for carrying the same passion to help others by engaging our community and guiding them to be empowered as well. But most of all, I want to thank our entire community network who continues to push us forward, to not give up and to make us believe that answers can only come from all of us when we come together to share. To keep things simple and neat, I have posted all of my event photos here so make sure you click through them. 

In the words of Carl Jung:

"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being."

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