One week until SXSW 2014. Last summer I submitted a panel proposal to the SXSW committee. To the delight of many the panel “Separate but Equal? 2.0” was accepted1. This isn’t my first rodeo at SXSW so I’ve accumulated a checklist of thoughts to help a SXSW Interactive novice get the most out of the experience.
Create and fill out your an SX Social profile
This is key. Reach out to panelists and others who have the same tagged interested. Set up meetings. Hustle.
You will need them. Interactions will happen swiftly. Exchanging emails addresses , phone numbers or enough twitter handles is too time consuming. If you haven’t ordered them yet try Moo for rush delivery at SXSW. Embrace the tangible for your connections.
You will do a lot of walking. According to my Nike Fuel Band last March was one my best months.
An ergonomic bag.
Back packs work best. Over the shoulder stuff can get tiring as you accumulate swag. You will be walking all day. Leave your hotel in the morning and don’t return until you need to sleep or shower. Keep an extra shirt or socks in the backpack. Laptop too (of course!).
Do it early and often. Start with the cab ride to the airport. Talk to people. Get comfortable. When you reach Austin try to share a cab with someone into town. End the conversation by getting their contact info. Be interested in learning from other2. Remember you have to give before you take.
Utilize your current affiliations.
Does the company you work for have a party or event? Invite others to it. Reach to people within your company and social networks like LinkedIn.
Know when to cut the conversation.
Don’t feel obligated to stay in an hour long conversation with someone selling their big data/gamification/messaging mashup. Try to talk to everyone in the room.
Don’t stay at a session that sucks.
There is too much knowledge to be obtained at the conference. Have 2 or 3 backups for every session you attend. Get their early for sessions that you suspect may be full.
There are many other things going on besides SXSW Interactive. Check out SXCreate or SXEco. Stumble into a free breakfast or lunch. Invite others to explore with you. Build a tribe, be fearless!
See you in Austin!