So, months ago, I planned a visit to my brother’s in Seattle. I’ve been coming here almost every year since he moved to the Pacific Northwest ten years ago. Days after I booked my tickets, I learned the International Food Blogging Conference (IFBC) would be held right in Seattle, right when I planned to be there! A newcomer to the food blog community, this was perfect to get inspired, boost my confidence, and allow me to meet new people.
Fast-forward to August: as the start of the conference grew closer, I began feeling a bit stressed. I’m naturally reserved and timid when it comes to meeting new people, especially when I’m by myself. Would I be stuck on my own all weekend? Would I be able to get to know new people and form friendships? My only comfort resided in my deep belief that food always brings people together, no matter what.
Boy, was I right! Even before the conference started, I got to know other attendees through Twitter. On Thursday, I had registered for an optional activity (the Modernist Cuisine visit) and had been very kindly invited to a party thrown by a fellow Seattle blogger. The night allowed me to “break the ice” and I had a taste of how open and friendly this food community is.
On Friday, the first night of the conference, everybody was looking for one another, the majority of people having never met face-to-face. It was very easy to blend in and feel relaxed and confident. I was excited!
I’ve been to more than a dozen conferences, tradeshows, and exhibitions in the past, all in the design business, and never before have I met such a bunch of people so eager to get to know each other, mingle, exchange business cards, and chat as old friends. By now, I’ve met dozens of interesting and very unique individuals. I’ve not been alone in a corner; far from it.
The conference itself is very interesting. Speakers are knowledgeable, food is very abundant and very delicious, wine is too, and giveaways are almost shamefully generous. This is by far the one conference I’ve attended where I feel I get the best return on investment, be it on the informative or personal levels. Sharing my passion with others who love food as deeply as I do, learning about other’s experiences, and eating together instantly made me feel warm and comfortable.
If this account of the event seems overly optimistic, it’s because the experience has been just great for me up to now (and I’m a fundamentally positive person). There’s still one whole conference day left with speakers I’m excited to hear. I’ll reflect on some more aspects of the conference in future posts.