Wednesday, June 08, 2011

On Blogging and Competition: The Mystery of the Event Guest List

As a blogger, I enjoy being part of a blog network - the Boston Parent Bloggers.  It's always nice to have the opportunity to socialize with others who "get" what I do.  Meaning that when we get together, it's not considered rude to half-listen, half-twitter on your smartphone about where you are and what you're doing and who you're doing it with!

Also, at bigger events, like blog conferences, being part of a blog network ensures that there will be familiar faces in attendance.  It's kinda like having a security blanket.  A squeeing, hugging, security blanket.

We Boston bloggers are a fun group of gals (if I do say so myself)!  These are gals whom I've created friendships with.  Gals I feel comfortable asking questions, favors and for help.  Gals I've shared meals, drinks and laughs with.

However, when you are part of a blogging network, there's always that underlying nuance: 


I don't care what you say, it can't be denied.

Who knows who, who got invited to what, why didn't I get invited, you get to go WHERE?!!

You know you've heard this before. 

I certainly have.

And? I'm NOT A FAN.

Here's where I stand:  I LOVE the fact that there are other women out there who "get" my blogging addiction hobby.  Who do what I do, understand why I do it, and love it as much as I do. 

Blogging is not my career. 

Therefore, when I get invited to fun events, I am genuinely honored to be asked.  I go to the events that work for me and my schedule - events I am interested in, featuring products that I would actually use or recommend.  I go to a few here and there, and turn down more than I attend.

What I find strange is that talking about event attendance is very hush-hush.  No one discusses where they are going and what they are going to be doing.

It's akin to discussions about salary.  A forbidden topic. 

So I think it's weird to be in this network, with friends of mine, and to not be able to talk about it.

"Hey, are you going to the [product] event on Thursday?  Me too!  See you there!"

"Did you get invited to [brand] launch next week?  Wanna ride in together?

Nope.  None of that dialogue is going on.  We all just show up, and then at first there's that awkward, "Heyyyy, I didn't know you were gonna be here too!" moment.


And I guess I don't want to be misconstrued by taking the plunge and being the first to ask.  Bottom line - I think that's probably what we're all afraid of.  That we will come across as "rubbing it in".  Ha ha, I got invited and yooooouuuu didn't. 

When it's totally NOT like that at all.  (At least I hope not.)

I love it when bloggers get amazing opportunities.  I am genuinely happy for them - truly!  I don't ever begrudge them of their success, their hard work, their effort.  And I would hope the feeling is mutual.  This blogosphere is a big, big, huDge pond.  With plenty of room for all of us.  The better you do as a blogger, the more oppportunities it opens for me.  WINNING.

[Sidebar confession: I honestly do get mad at the non-invites to the TJMaxx/Marshall's events that pop up around here though. Jeez, I'm DYING to get in with them, as I'm probably one of their BIGGEST shoppers. So yes, I admit to being bitter about that. And now, with that being said, I shall probably never EVER get an invite. The End.]

Anyway, I would not care AT ALL if someone asked me if I were going to an event to which I wasn't invited.  This business is so fickle and so random - who the hell knows how I get invited to some things and not others???  I sure don't.

And, as a member of a blog network, I think we all like to saaaayyyy that we are supportive of each other.  And inclusive.  And encouraging.  But yet.  There is still that damn unspoken competitive aspect.  Hence, none of us seem to dare ask who's going to what.  And conversely, none of us voluntarily put it out there.

Basically, what I do now when I accept an event invitation is ask for a blogger guest list. So I know ahead of time who is going. Without putting myself out there and then worrying if I'm being perceived as a show-off. And then, if I feel comfortable enough with a fellow blogger, I can message them and say, "Heard you were attending [so-and-so event]. Me too! Looking forward to seeing you there!"

Does anyone else find this unspoken sense of competition similar (and annoying)?  Is there a solution?  Or is the Event Guest List doomed to remain a mystery?  Much like your salary.  And mine.

(I know there are other statewide blog networks, like Momz Share in DC.  And all you New York City area bloggers.  Would love it if you would weigh in on this!)


Jess said...

Amazing post, Sarah! I feel like I could've written it since I feel just the same, right down to being annoyed about missing the Marshall's/TJMaxx event!

I think the guest list idea is a great one, though I think it'd be great if we could be more open. Especially if we know another blogger who might be interested and may want to ask about extending an invitation or something.

I'm so glad that our Boston group is so nice and inclusive and supportive!

Anthony from CharismaticKid said...

Grrrrr... I wish I could get invited to cool events like you. *jealous face*

Alexandra said...

If I had this dilemma;;; which I wish I did, I'd do what you do: the blogger guest list.

How clever.

I would think , if it was me, that I'd be afraid to ask someone in case they weren't invited.

That would be awkward, you know?

justme said...

i am not on any radar of getting the invites, i was a while back and it was nice. i was able to make a few events and it was quite nice, i went to pbs and they had child care and my kids had a blast. i went to a leapfrog thing and that was very nice we even got free stuff which was sooo nice, but i saw many bloggers GRABBING more than their share and rude about it. this turned me off.

my blog changed from a venting mom blog to more about me working out. i would love to be invited to things but i also don't believe i put the work that others put into it.

i will say i was super jealous that you got to go to the kelly ripa thing, mostly b/c i am very involved in fundraising for ovarian cancer and i know she is as well. but i was happy for you as well !!! i will say sometimes some of the bloggers that seem to be big seem to get asked to do EVERYTHING and i feel as if they might not even LIKE the product or service but they just take everything, every free trip, car, service, appliance.....i start not trusting that bloggers veiwpoints....

Classy Fab Sarah said...

I know nothing of blogging networks cause I'm so not in the loop... but it sounds so frustrating!!

And you GOTTA get in on the TJ Maxx thing. That would be amazing!!

Unknown said...

How do you get invited to things??? That sounds like so much fun!

The Coupon Goddess said...

Fantastic post. You just said everything we all think. Here's my input (this is so much more fun with wine).....

I've decided not to care if I do or do not get invited to local events. Like our dear friend Christy Matte always says, create your own magic. And that is what I'm doing. No, I don't always get invited to the same events as other bloggers and YES it can be political, but it's ok. I'm finally secure enough in my talents and my influence, so much so in fact that I am no longer dwelling on what I'm not invited to. Instead, I am going straight to the brands I want to work with to forge relationships and opportunities. And you know what? It's working.

Getting invited to stuff is surely easier, but I believe bloggers will forge a stronger bond with brands when they reach out to them and cultivate relationships. And now I will jump off my soap box. ;)

MorethanMommy said...

I'm always surprised when people post things like this. When I'm together with other bloggers, we almost always compare events... not in a competitive way, but just to find out when we'll see each other next. There are exceptions, of course. Sometimes brands don't want you to talk about things, and I am less likely to ask a blogger who I know doesn't get many invites. There's a line between comparing notes and bragging, you know?

Anyway, come on the Facebook group and start chatting. There's no taboo.

Mommy Niri said...

My 2c - I NEVER get offended to not being invited - I know that sound crazy but it is true. I don't expect people to invite me - and at least a couple of times someone asked me how come I was not invited, and I felt why would I ever assume I would be? I just chalk it down to time I can work more on my blog.

As for sharing, I normally do it on my fanpage - since I consider it my journal to where I go as a blogger. I mention it sometimes on twitter but I don't want people to think I am gloating etc so I don't make a big stinker of it.

Up until now I still consider it a privilege to be invited and never my right to be invited. Who knows how people decide (research/lucky draw) but it does not bother me. I just think I am too old to worry about the mechanics behind.

Unknown said...

I think you are brave for speaking your mind about something that is indeed a bit mysterious... particularly for newer bloggers like me. I'm in full agreement with all said here, including gratitude when you DO get invited, and would add that you can (to quote Christy) "create your own magic" and approach a brand, venue, etc. and create your OWN event... and own it to promote your own blog if you wanted to! :)

As a PR consultant on the other side of the fence, I love hearing from bloggers who are passionate about my client's brand and approach me with an event/contest/post idea... or even ask for an invite to an upcoming event... is that right, friends, or am I off base there?

Bravo, Sarah, for speaking your mind and opening discussion about a tough subject. I dig that about you.

Robyn Wright of Robyn's Online World said...

I do see the part about competition with SOME bloggers. I think most of the time it is more wishing they could have gone too just because the blogging events are fun. I admit that some of the trips and events that some of my friends participate in I am really envious of - HOWEVER - I am also thrilled for those same friends that they had a chance to do it. I know that I will have chances to do other things. I'm also very happy to refer my friends for trips/events that don't fit me/my blog or my schedule.

Now the thing about not talking about who's going to be at events I haven't really experienced. In fact I have found the opposite, at least here in St. Louis. People share rides often, plan lots of tweetups where we discuss things, chat on Twitter, etc.

Great topic!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I'll tell you, I too get a little jealous of those invited to certain events, but i have experienced in the past that other's get jealous of some of the invites i get too, so i know i am not alone. i will often ask the event coordinator how they got my name, and often enough i can then figure out who else may be there. but one thing i do is SHARE whenever i can, i certainly don't want to end up at an event and not know anybody there (although, in the chicago area, i know most area bloggers (i think! lol)), so i will often ask the event coordinator if they are looking for any other bloggers to join the event, and i'll tell you, 9 times out of 10, they will be PLEASED to get more bloggers on board. That way i can recommend fellow bloggers that i know are a good fit for the event/product, and i also will have a good friend there with me. it's a win-win. and in return, those bloggers who get invites to cool events, will often return the favor! i encourage other bloggers to do the same, so then we can all enjoy the fun events, TOGETHER! ;-)

BenSpark said...

What about your guy pals w Boston parent bloggers. :-)

I love to be invited to things but most of all I enjoy just being remembered that I'm someone in the room sans lady parts. Lol

Tonja Deegan said...

I will tell you, from the PR side, that it's sometimes very difficult to find out where a blogger is located. Some have it in the "about" or "PR" sections, sometimes you can find it from a Twitter handle and other times from a Twitter list someone else created. Not that you need to give out your exact street address but state is good and metro area is better. I find it helpful, but rare, when I invite someone and they say "hey, I know x, y and z are local, too."

Anna Palmer said...


What a great tip. I network for my friends all the time, but rarely think of it in terms of large scale event invites. I assume the agenda and guest list is set by some powers that be. Just a reminder that social media is SOCIAL, and I would always include friends in a personal party. Why not pitch their names at a corporate event or conference!

Sarah Great thought provoking post. See you at Type a con? You going to be there ;)

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

Actually we were just discussing this in one of our local Colorado groups. We decided that if we are invited to an event we will share it with others, who knows when you can get a ride or fell better about RSVPing because you'll know a person or two.

We all know that not everyone can be invited to everything all the time. It seems like if people are holding back what they are doing it maybe so that they don't sound too boisterous and braggy to everyone else. Maybe that is the case in your situation as well? Although competition is definitely a possibility...I think we have all seen that in action too.

Judytothejames said...

Great read! As an outsider, I never realized how fierce it is out there for a blogger. Thanks for shedding the light. If you miss one Marshall/TJ Max bus, hopefully now they'll you loud and clear and invite you to the next one!!

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

I have no idea how event invite lists are created and have been surprised at times, both to be invited to things or to be skipped over. But I'm always happy for bloggers who get invited to events - just the fact that so many companies are reaching out in this way means that there will be more opportunities for everyone down the road. I like the idea of asking for an invite list ahead of time - sometimes I've gotten one and sometimes not and it definitely helps to be able to coordinate or even just know I'm going to see a familiar face or two. I love that you wrote about this! :)

jodifur said...

Ha! I just sent an email to my dc blogging pals like "I'm going to this event this weekend, anyone else coming?" and I thought when I sent it, CRAP, I hope they were invited!

I think it is because people are worried about hurting other people's feelings? Or looking like they are bragging?

But I'm like you, I blog as a hobby.

Calliope said...

I don't really have a filter when it comes to being invited. And I always like to know if I know anyone else going because I have slow-to-start extroversion and if I don't know anyone I go shy. That being said I have not been invited to many things and hearing about events as they are happening or after the fact that you would have loved to have been a part of - well it just brings up all kinds of icky validation feelings. Since my blog is a memoir blog I often take things like this very personally - which is a mistake, and I'm working on it.

Christine - From Dates to Diapers said...

I have a post sitting in my draft folder where I touch on this very thing, but talk about events in a more general sense, as well. Great minds...?

Anywho, I always ask for a guest list when I confirm my attendance to an event. I LOVE knowing who I will get to see or meet, and it removes the awkwardness of asking my friends and risking hurt feelings.

Kim said...

Nice read! I love hearing about events that I'm not invited too (before and after) because I'm so oblivious to who is doing what. And, I, like you, have no idea how I get invited when I do get invited. And really how to begin the approach to a brand that I would love to work with. It would be great to hear some success stories.

LOVE the request of the guest list. After all the years of event planning, I don't know why I didn't think of that.

Also love Christy's advice (via Melanie!) to make your own magic.

Marly said...

This is my first time to your site, and wanted you to know that I love what you have to say here. I'm like you - happy for others when they succeed. Good for them! We should all help and encourage each other more - especially women supporting other women. Great post!

Julie {Angry Julie Monday} said...

Hobby blogger too...

although the event invites always fascinate me. I think it always causes drama with local events, etc. we have some major issues in our area.

I know someone who goes to a ton of events. It is funny because she will walk up to you at an event and almost are you going to xyz next week? I know how game so well. Usually my response is nope, I have to work. then her response, is "ohhh....

NYC Single Mom said...

try being a NY blogger because it is happening here but on a bigger scale.
Although on some level the PR folks make it worse by inviting bloggers whose content has nothing to do with the product. Seriously fashion bloggers who NEVER write about gaming get invites to games.
its nuts
But I will admit that I feel it ends up in your favor at some point.


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