- Keep your badge. Even after the stream for which you registered (in our case, Interactive) finishes, your badge is still a golden ticket to a lot of parties, film showings, music gigs, and other events. Besides, you paid a LOT of money for that badge, and it’s got your photo and contact details on it. Don’t just chuck it out.
- It might have been alluded to already but you will do a lot of walking. Do not take your new shoes. Take comfortable shoes, at least two pair, one of which to be waterproof.
- Take sun cream. This should be obvious but the sun, whilst lovely and good for us in small quantities, is harmful to you and your skin in large doses. Even when it’s not sunny, you are being exposed to UV-A rays, which cause ageing and long-term skin damage. Do not be the lobster walking around SXSW! Protect your skin from UV-A and UV-B rays with a broad spectrum sun cream.
- Drink a lot of water. Thankfully, all SXSW venues have plenty of water dispensers, so all you need is a refillable water bottle. Drink more than you think you’ll need. There are a lot of loos, so don’t worry about that; some of the nicest loos are in the Four Seasons and the new JW Marriott.
- Almost every panel you attend will be great. The panel selection process (‘Panel Picker’) almost guarantees that the chaff will be sorted from the wheat, and you will be treated to several days of really interesting, informative, and useful presentations. Plus you will have opportunities to interact and talk further with panellists. Do not forget your business cards.
- There is plenty of free Wi-Fi, a glorious thing for attendees who are not used to such luxury. Take a portable phone / laptop / tablet charger (and US adapter) as you will likely be using your mobile devices a lot.
- People at SXSW seem receptive to lots of ideas. People whom you might not have been able to meet with in your home country might be willing to meet with you in Austin, and deals can happen. It’s bizarre but it’s the magic of SXSW.
- Try to make notes of whom you met as soon as possible, along with every detail about the meeting, conversation, and the person that you can remember. If you’re at SXSW for longer than a day or two and do not have an exceptional memory (LINK), you will likely be immensely pleased with yourself that you took the time to jot down memory joggers that will help you when you return home and want to follow up on conversations and leads you started in Austin.
Whilst some of these tips, tricks, and hints may be SXSW-specific, we think many of them can be applied to any large conference or event you attend where professional networking happens continuously, both explicitly and indirectly.
If you went to SXSW, we hope it was a great experience for you. If you didn’t but have always thought it might be good for your organisation or professional growth, we hope these blog posts have been helpful. Tweet us at @infoYST to keep the conversation going, using #YSTatSXSW – you can also tweet us with your tips for how to make SXSW an even more excellent professional and personal experience, and how to keep the glow going once it’s over and you return home. We’d also be happy to chat with you about if attending SXSW would be the right thing for your organisation.
A couple of final thoughts:
The folks at Sonicbids have written something about keeping the post-SXSW glow alive (link opens in new window). Even though it’s aimed at a music audience, the main points apply to industries beyond music.
Zymge has written an interesting blog post on the main themes of SXSW 2016, Virtual Reality (VR) and Authenticity (link opens in new window).
Thanks for reading – tweet us your feedback, comments, and suggestions for future blog posts at @infoYST. And hope to see you at SXSW 2017!