As this year’s South by Southwest festival descends upon Austin, TX, dozens upon dozens upon dozens of bands along with thousands of music fans, social media nerds and industry hotshots will swarm this Texas town in search of networking, parties and the next big thing in social media. The Washington Post describes SXSW Interactive, as “a drinking festival with a side of tech.” That seems like an accurate analysis of the entire weekend to me.
With all the aforementioned insanity, it’s easy for SXSW overload to creep up. Let this adopted Austinite and 6 year SXSW veteran show you the ropes. Here are some useful tips on how to mix business with pleasure so that you catch all the shows and panels in your itinerary while still managing the legendary SXSWasted hangover.
Panels or parties? Sleep or Sessions?
You will be asking yourself this every single day. The first stop I recommend to any SXSW newbie is the "How to Rawk SXSW" panel. This year's panel has already happened and as always it's a humorous mix of advice everyone should know. While we're talking about panels, make sure you get to events early because the early birds get all the good seats. Yes, the lines are monstrous. Relax. Smile. Everything is going to be OK. Also don't overextend yourself. Put more work into scheduling meals than scheduling sessions. Trust me... or The New York Times on this. Meals are great opportunities to get to know people better and takes off some of the pressure to network.
Things to Consider:
Pimp your phone:
Carry an extra phone battery
- Mobile apps can steal a lot of juice and there’s NOTHING worse than a low battery alert before noon.
SXSW iPhone app
- View and build your schedule
- Map conference and festival events each hour
- Exchange contact info with people you meet
- Read news, and search attendees, events, and venues
- The breakout mobile app of last year's conference. Everyone's doing it so you might as well give in.
Connect – Online and IRL:
SitBy.Us - Find where your friends are sitting at each panel! How amazing is that?
- Keep session and conference hashtag searches going on Tweetdeck.
- Match twitter accounts to faces so you can talk someone up IRL who makes a comment you enjoy.
- You have to let your mom know you've landed safely!
Blogging apps such as Wordpress
- Blog while waiting in line.
The Extra Mile:
- Unless you're a Bump aficionado, old fashion business exchange still makes the world go round and it's a welcome personal touch.
- Leave the comforts of downtown and convention center for events/parties that take a bit of effort to get to. It’ll be an adventure
- Pay it forward. Be kind to the locals and to your fellow festival goers.
SXSW is about the culture of the web, so go to panels and parties that define that for you. Trends and technology will eventually leak into everything that happens, so focus on what gets you excited. For the latest updates from NMSosphere at SXSW, follow Nisha Chittal, Bill Beutler, Jayar Donlan, Kelly Olexa, Sam Huxley and myself. If you see me this week, come say hi and I'll buy you a margarita!