Lessons from SXSW

It was my first time attending SXSW this year.

For you seasoned SXSW veterans, you can imagine my excitement! After hearing all the stories, I knew it was going to be amazing, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

After a crazy week at work, a 7-hour trip (I have no idea how it takes this long to get from DTW to AUS), and a few hours sleep, I was standing in line at registration.

I had my picture taken, got my shiny new badge and picked up my 1-pound swag bag. As I opened up the bag, I found my program guide and realized it was like ½ an inch thick and super heavy.

At this point, I wasn’t sure what I just gotten myself into. I had no idea what to do next, where to go, who to see and to top it off the whole convention center was complete chaos. People were handing out freebies (I’ll take that t-shirt please), offering up bloody marys, holding signs, and who knows what!

Making the Most of SXSW

I pulled myself together and decided I needed a plan. I researched all the sessions that I thought were the most valuable. The beginner, intermediate and advanced guide was super helpful. This helped me to decide which ones I knew I would get the most of out of. It was great and I was ready to go!

So, I spend the next day going to my sessions like a diligent attendee and came to the realization that I was missing out on a whole lot more. Those lounges on the streets looked fun, the free food looked yummy, and everyone was having an amazing time. Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley said it best during a packed session – “treat sxsw like freshman orientation. Go out and meet everyone you can.”

I decided, this was the way to go. I went to some of the sessions, met lots of great people in the lounges and enjoyed free pork bun tacos and sobe mixed drinks! I learned that this is really the true SXSW. Its all about soaking up the atmosphere and learning from all the people that you’re with.

Lessons Learned

So in the end, SXSW was an awesome experience. I got to see a lot of the city, met lots of other “social media people” and learned some ways to help my clients. If you do end up going, keep these three things in mind:

1). Plan Ahead
2). Be Sociable
3). Be Spontaneous