It’s that time again.
For all the SXSW rookies or those who can’t clearly remember what they experienced at last year’s Geek Bacchanalia, here’s this year’s guide to SXSW Interactive survival and success:
- When you’re here, always call it “south by.” If people don’t know what you’re talking about, they are not people you want to talk to anyway.
- SXSW started as a music festival. It’s still a festival. It is *NOT* a tech or business conference. Approach it like ‘Spring Break for Geeks’ and you’ll have the right mindset.
- SXSW is about relationships, old and new, and soaking up the scene.
- All the action @ the convention center is in the hallways.
- Don’t book yourself back-to-back-to-back in sessions. Instead, hit a few that are super-relevant to what you do, attend at least one keynote so you can say you went to one, but spend the majority of your time meeting people and interacting with them.
- For a session you for-sure want to attend, be outside the door at least one hour before that session starts. Don’t worry about the wait. Some of the best connections and conversations you’ll have will be in line waiting for a session.
- Most of the real innovative thought and “what’s next” will happen in the tiny meeting rooms in the hotels five blocks from the convention center (the show is about 3x larger than Austin can accommodate, so sessions are in hotels all over town)
- Stay flexible and be ready to change your plans instantly. Serendipity rewards flexibility and spontaneity at SX (no, that’s not a typo, that’s your chance to practice saying “south by”).
- Be ready for 18 hours of continuous, heavy phone use. Bring extra batteries or an external, rechargeable power source.
- Don’t get too hyped up about anybody you meet or connect with. Almost *nobody* follows-up after SXSW. If you want to sustain a relationship or connection, it will be on you to do it.
- Try to spend at least 15 to 30 minutes a day watching the scene and immersing yourself in the energy at different locations:
- Charging station @ the convention center
- Hilton main lobby
- Hilton 4th floor lobby (startup accelerator)
- Vendor/brand reception/party (too many to begin to comprehend until you witness it for yourself)
- Local club/bar (best scene is not 6th street, seek out the other areas of downtown for more interesting interactions)
And, very important:
- Pace yourself. Drink a lot of fluids. Load up on “Airborne” every morning to ward off the exotic mix of worldwide germs. There is no shortage of parties, receptions and general festivity. It’s a long show. Save some energy for the last days.
- Bring lots of business cards. For all its techiness, it’s still a physical business card show.
[edit: added need for 18 hours of phone power]
[great additional points in the comments on this post]