Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Your Network will Connect Work: An interview by A. Welch

Your Network will Connect Work
Abriauna Welch

Although blogs are a regular part of everyday life now, I didn’t discover my first blog until about 5 years ago. It started in college, when I went natural for the first time and was trying to figure out what to do with my hair. I happened to stumble upon a blog called Black Girl Long Hair and went on to explore the blogosphere from there.

One of the topics that is often discussed in the world of social media is how to develop and expand your brand using your social network. This past weekend I got the opportunity to see that idea put into action when I attended Fashionable Atlanta’s first annual bloggers meetup. The event took place at the beautiful & ever so trendy little five points boutique, Envy. Although I didn’t get to stay long (darn that late night Atlanta parking) I did get the opportunity to meet fashion bloggers from all over, collect some nice looking business cards, and get a pretty sweet goody bag (free shoes anyone?). I also got the opportunity to link up with one of Fashionable Atlanta’s main event planners, 29 year-old, Los Angeles native, Eboni Saint-Elie, to get the inside scoop on what it took to put on such a FABULOUS event. Enjoy!

AW: I know this was the First Annual Fashionable Atlanta Event. How did you come up with the idea for the event?
EE: Honestly, the idea for Fashionable Atlanta was born out of my own selfish need for friends. Lol!!! Seriously, when I moved here I didn't really know very many people but I slowly started to meet people through my blog. I also saw tons of blogger meetups happening in other cities. One day, I just said to myself...we need to do that in Atlanta. I was running across a lot of fashion events here in Atlanta and a lot of Atlanta based bloggers, so it just made sense. I just saw a need for something like this in the Atlanta blogger community and went for it.

AW: How long did it take you to plan the event?
EE: Gosh, it's hard to say...I guess you can say it was in the works for a couple months before we started publicizing.

AW: What steps did you take to plan to the event?
EE: I started by reaching out to a select group of bloggers for HELP! We met a few times to hash out our vision for the event. What did we want to do, what kind of setting did we want to create, who did we want to be there, etc. Once we decided WHAT we wanted to do, we started working on the HOW and it all came together. Everyone had their own respective tasks, but I think the hardest part by far was getting sponsorship. We had to reach out to A LOT of companies and in the end we had some GREAT giveaways, but for a while that was the area that most concerned me. I really wanted the goodies to be GREAT.

AW: Who were your sponsors & what steps did you take to secure them?
EE: Like I said, this was probably the most challenging part of the planning process. Early on, I put together a sponsorship kit for potential sponsors outlining the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why (not necessarily in that order)...WHO we were, WHAT our goal was, HOW partnering with us would be beneficial to them, and WHY they should say yes. As the details were finalized, I added WHERE and WHEN the event was to take place. The thing is, companies are approached for sponsorship all day, every day. It's important to make sure your organization stands out. As a blogger, I thought companies would leap at the chance to get some FREE PR from a group of 30 - 40 bloggers but it was harder than I thought. In the end, we had a FABULOUS roster of sponsors, but we must have reached out to hundreds. MUCH LOVE to all the companies listed below!
• Envy’s Pretty Party
• Sole Society
• Steve Madden
• We Love Colors
• China Glaze
• Bambola Beauty
• Carson Bryce Trading Company
• By Shana • Charming Charlie
• Danae’s Creations
• Anneka’s Butter
• True You Cosmetics
• Lamik Beauty
• BioCare Labs / Maven
• ShandArt Fashion Art & Illustrations*
• Olive Paperie Stationary*
• LLF Jewelry Co.*

AW: Who were your co-planners; and where can we find them?
EE: There are 6 of us on the planning committee and I would have been lost without them.
• Charee,
• Adrienne, I Am Sadiddy
• Jai, Southern Fashionality & The Bare Skinny
• Prissy, Rush Our Fashion
• Breck, Fashion Without Guilt

AW: What was your ultimate goal for the event?
EE: My ultimate goal was truly to provide an opportunity for bloggers to network and get to know each other. We all have different strengths and different goals for our blogs. By definition, blogging is a "social network"... collaboration is the name of the game! I also wanted it to be a fun time! I wanted folks to walk away smiling and feeling good!

AW: What did you most enjoy about planning this event?
EE: Getting to know the ladies on the planning committee. We are all GREAT friends now!

AW: If you had the opportunity to do the event over what would you do differently? What would you do the same?
EE: I wouldn't change a thing!

AW: Do you have any advice for the event planners of the world?
EE: Try to have fun with it (there were moments were I was FREAKING out. Lol)

AW: What are your plans for the future?
EE: Well, we've got a lot of fun stuff planned for Fashionable Atlanta but I won't spill the beans until things are a bit more final! I'll keep you posted...

AW: What is your favorite quote?
EE: You know,I am really not a quote person. Lol. I couldn't name a quote off the top of my head to save my life.

AW: Where can our readers go to find out more about you?
EE: You can find me on my personal style blog, The Fashionista Next Door, Twitter (@FashionNextDoor), Facebook, and Tumblr (my virtual inspiration board).

I had a lot of fun at the first annual Fashionable Atlanta Bloggers Meetup and I learned a lot from Eboni about what it takes to put on a great event. Ultimately, I think one of the main things that I learned is that a blog is more than just a virtual space we use to promote our personal ideals. If we use our social networks to make professional connections, we’re not just expanding people’s knowledge of our brand. We’re also creating platforms that can be used to develop partnerships that could lead to future business deals.

A. Welch

[Interested in sharing your event or guest posting? send me an email at soaeventconcepts(at)gmail(dot)com]

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