1. Have the mindset that you ARE going. This mindset is what I adopted even though when I learned it would be in NYC - I didn't know "how" financially I would pull it off yet. But you start with setting down the framework of a plan and not the "see what happens" mentality. Start this plan by buying the "early bird" ticket. You know the message of The Secret. Now put it into action.
2. Budget time for enjoying the city you are visiting. I had a day and a half to see some of NYC and it was mostly due to the fact I booked my flight later and there were no Wed/Thursday flights so I HAD to leave on Tuesday - turned out to be great otherwise I would not have fit in any sightseeing because there's so much going on during the conference.
3. Set your agenda. Are you there to learn? Are you there to network? Are you there to party? Maybe a little bit of each - but thinking about this helps you determine which activities you participate in and outlines your commitments.
4. Reach out to sponsors early. Figure out what you can possibly offer in return to help cover the costs. Since I had my airfare covered with my miles I needed to just seek out a couple of small sponsorships to cover my hotel stay. What I offered in return was ad space and taking note of bloggers I met that could be a good fit to guest post for them. This was a great win-win because they didn't have to afford the time or money to attend and even getting just a couple of blogger introductions would help.
5. Have some good ice breaker questions ready. This will make your conversation less robotic and switch things up from "what do you blog about? Where are you from? How long have you been blogging?"
Good ice breaker questions: (and feel free to steal them)
What do you do for fun?
What are you hoping to accomplish here at BlogHer?
Who inspired you to start your blog?
Any of these will help you make an impression with the person you're talking to.
6. Prepare a media kit for brands, get business cards to swap with bloggers, walk the walk, don't just talk the talk.
7. Follow the BlogHer hashtag for the current year to find some people who are attending that you want to meet IRL - in real life.
8. Search for a Facebook group of bloggers who are attending to share ideas, find people to befriend, look for roommates, share cabs to/from airport.
9. Schedule one on one meetings with either people you know or should get to know. Sometimes we think the best and believe we will cross paths, but based on my experience too often it is hard to try to meetup for one or both of you unless you schedule it in. Two of my three face to face networking hopeful meetings happened because we scheduled it.
10. Outline your budget for ALL the costs of attending - then focus on each item individually as you work to raise the money for conference pass, airline ticket, hotel stay, cab fare, eating (dinner, snacks, or tourist days), shopping and sightseeing. It all adds up and you want to know your expenses before so you know what to work towards. It also helps to have this itemized expense list for when you go to set your agenda - remember item #3 from above. When you see the investment you (or your sponsors) are making in this experience you may also value each activity you choose to participate in more wisely.