I’ll be attending SXSW for my 7th year in just a few weeks and I get asked all the time, how do you make the most of it? How do you do it? In reality, I over strategize and end up doing about 1/2 of what I plan for and meet double the people I intend on meeting. Every year, I follow the same three pieces of advice and give them freely to anyone who asks. I just go to have a good time and when meeting others, it shows. Being cheerful is the key to having a great outcome at SXSW.
When you’re going to an event like SXSW, there is something for everyone. I typically take a step back to think about what I want to get out of the event and what kinds of events I can participate in and evenly balance the thought leadership, networking and a level of enjoyment. Once you have your intentions set, build your schedule around it.
Plan everything in advance using the official SXSW App or Online Scheduler. Using a keyword search, it should be pretty easy to find sessions that apply to you. That being said, sessions are spread across town and you’ll need to plan traveling from session to session and always have a backup plan so you’re flexible with your fine-tuned schedule.
If I could offer a piece of advice, if something isn’t working with you don’t feel bad for leaving a session early if it isn’t what you expected. Your time is valuable and you should duck out to give another session a shot.
Being at SXSW can be exhausting so be mindful of what you’re needing to recharge. Is it water? Food? Going to a lounge and sitting down? Find a spot that can fill your needs and focus on relaxing or making connections or overhearing some engaging content. Make sure you’re aware of those needs you have to properly recharge.
My suggestions for official some SXSW programming that could be relaxed and reset your focus are:
One of my favorite unofficial events is the Fast Company Grill
Keep in mind, SXSW is a Marathon, not a sprint and bringing forward your best self can make an impression that will last for years.
Network, Be Social and Meet Other People
There will be a lot of people that come from across the globe to be at SXSW Interactive—the person sitting next to you or standing in line with you may just be your next business partner or potential client, so why not speak to them! Introduce yourself and make a new friend. You never know if they work in your industry or know about an exclusive event. Perhaps you can help them in their career or connect them with someone they need to meet. Get out of your comfort zone, look up from your phone and interact with new people because it may be more impactful than the sessions.
If you’re coming in for SXSW and would like to meet up, reach out to me at [email protected]
PS. I was lucky enough to be on a panel last week that covered a lot of questions asked by SXSW first timers you can view that here: https://thefireshow.com/prep-for-sxsw-2019/
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