Earlier this month, I attended the first annual Food Allergy Blogger Conference, which was held in Las Vegas. Jenny Dare Mitchell Sprague and Homa Woodrum did an excellent job organizing the event, and their capability, professionalism, and gracious hosting were inspiring.
I don’t have notes to share from sessions I attended at the conference, or a slide show from my panel to upload. What I want to share with you instead is the lingering effect this event had on me. Others have written about having theme songs knock about in their head during the conference, and that rings true for me. I’ve had the theme song from Friends playing in a loop in my head since I left Las Vegas, and I believe that was the most significant effect of the conference: The bringing together of online friends in real life.
As I moved from room to room, event to event, I would see online acquaintances whose personal stories I know and whose articles I read. We’ve exchanged e-mail messages, tweets, Facebook chat messages, and maybe we even had a Skype or phone call once or twice. It’s a remarkable contrast to be freed from the keyboard, emoticons, likes, and favorites and be face to face. I was so excited to be with them and it was surreal to be in the same room!
I was inspired at the conference to make myself even more available to support other bloggers and the companies that serve the allergic community. The “I’ll be there for you” chorus of the Friends theme song couldn’t say it better: If you have an article you’d like shared, an event you want to publicize, a campaign you’re promoting, or an idea for collaboration, I’m here for you. Working together, we will enhance our impact even more.
I was privileged to “know” these friends before in an online way, and I’m graced to know them now in a real world way. We truly support each other, and I look forward to meeting with my friends again at the Food Allergy Blogger Conference next year.
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