An Open Letter to the Newbies of #IFBC15

Dear IFBC Virgin…umm…I mean Newbie:

Last year, I was in your shoes. I was new to the International Food Bloggers Conference and didn’t know what to expect. Yes, I had attended other conferences put on by Zephyr, but this was my first time at the IFBC. Here’s some advice to help you look like you’ve been through this rodeo a time or two.

  1. Bring your portable devices.  And don’t forget the chargers and cables for your electronic devices!  If you have a portable power brick, bring that too.  Seriously.  You don’t want to be in an awesome session and not have the ability to share tidbits from those sessions because your technology is dead.

    Tools of the trade. With a side of wine.
    Tools of the trade. With a side of wine.
  2. Wine.  This year, there are a fair number of events involving wine.  The opening night reception on Friday night is sponsored by Maryhill Winery.  On Saturday, there is a session on the pairing the sparkling wines of the Franciacorta DOCG region of Italy with food, a wine education session from Concannon Vineyard *AND* a Grand Tasting Wine Reception.  My advice on the wine portion is this. 
    • Spit.  That’s why dump buckets *should* be at every table.
    • If you decide to not spit, know your limit.
    • Don’t feel obliged to drink the whole sample.  Again, this why the dump buckets are there.
    • PLEASE!  Do NOT pull a Miles from “Sideways” and drink from the dump bucket (this specific reference starts at 0:36 in the linked clip).
    • Do ask questions! There’s no such thing as a stupid wine question.
    • Learn the basics of wine, such as what a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Chardonnay should smell like. Wine Folly is a great, easy-to-understand guide to wine.

      The lineup of Kudos wines
      The lineup of Kudos wines (to my knowledge, they won’t be at the conference, but I like the picture).
  3. Don’t discount the whole conference if you have a problem with the keynote speech.  No one is ever going to agree with *everything* that a keynote speaker has to say.  
  4. Business cards.  I know.  It sounds insane and old school.  How else are you going to be able to get the word out about your site, though?  They don’t have to be fancy. 

    My business card. It's simple, yet effective.
    My business card. It’s simple, yet effective.
  5. Social media handles.  If you haven’t set these up yet, then what are you waiting for?  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the bare essentials that you should have.If you already have your SM handles set up, then I recommend a management software suite such as Hootsuite.  That way, you’re not flipping back and forth between your SM channels.
  6. Most importantly, have fun!  These conferences are all about making new connections, learning something new and, most importantly, stepping outside of our comfort zones.


An experienced Zephyr Conference attendee

Disclosure:  This is one of many posts that will be coming about IFBC.  In exchange for a reduced conference rate, a citizen blogger, such as myself, is asked to produce a minimum number of posts.

8 Comment

  1. Thank you for this post! I will be attending for the first time in 2016. This was helpful :).

    1. Alina says: Reply

      You’re welcome! I’ll be posting another one for this year closer to the IFBC date!

  2. Remya says: Reply

    Well written post ……. Useful for a newbie 🙂 Thank u for the guidance 🙂

    1. Alina says: Reply

      You’re welcome!!

  3. Randii Mason says: Reply

    Are you sure you want to say that about the Keynote speaker? This year, it’s Kim Severson, an incredibly talented, respected writer. Your comment prompts unearned negativity about her.

    1. Alina says: Reply

      No disrespect was meant.

      We have to keep in mind and respect that everyone has their own opinion. Due to this, they very well may not agree with what someone has to say. If that’s the case, then it does not matter how well-respected and talented the chosen speaker may be. I’ve heard some of the greatest and most respected wine writers, including James Conaway and Steve Heimoff, and wine makers speak and I don’t always agree with them. Do I consider what they have to say? Of course. I’m open minded enough to listen, but not necessarily implement.

      Discounting the entire conference based on your opinion of the keynote was the point I was driving home. Someone did that last year, and while I didn’t agree with what the keynotes had to say, I didn’t say “Forget this. This conference completely SUCKS!” like they did and completely walk away from the conference. I get more out of IFBC sessions than I do out of the WBC sessions. Are there some sessions at WBC where I learn something new? Of course, since it moves from location to location every year, but for the most part, WBC is more like a class or family reunion with *really* good wine for those of us who have been to more than three conferences.

  4. Great post Alina! Wishing I would be attending, but not this year. Have a few spits for me!

    1. Alina says: Reply

      I’m sad that I don’t get to see you! I was in your state last weekend (the Wine Bloggers Conference was in Corning) and loved it! The Finger Lakes area is so beautiful!

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