The month of march has been interesting. In a nutshell, I put over 3400 miles on my truck traveled through 8 states, resulting in stopping points in Little Rock, AR, Texarkana, TX, Austin, TX, Denver, CO and Kansas City, MO.
Even by my own travel standards, nutty. The travels were largely put in play by my having purchased a ticket to South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) and needing to visit Denver and Boulder, CO for business reasons.
SXSW was, for its first few days – a clusterf*$%. Between weather, a first time SXSW attendee, coordinating between several groups of friends on colleagues, it’s a miracle that my mind survived. Out of the madness, I do have 5 tips for would be SXSW future attendees:
Don’t plan on getting any work done.
I have described SXSW to outsiders as ‘Spring Break for geeks’ in its amenities and interested parties. Not knowing anything about the music and film portions of the festivals, and how my cell phone scrambled and died (even with multiple charge packs), I can tell you that geeks flocked to Austin.
This can be done. Hang out in lounges, hotel lobbies, and charge stations – and the common denominator of your networking weight class emerges. Everyone has to sleep, eat, drink, and charge their devices. Serendipitous networking at SXSW can be planned.
If marketing at SXSW, don’t buy a badge.
The post hours SXSW crowd is an indcredibly active one, so don’t limit yourself to the panels and ‘thought leadership’ (I was unimpressed) which the event has prided itself on for so many years. Especially if you are marketing a launch, app, product or service – skip the badge and put the budget toward a better hotel and materials (event related would be best) by which to
attract the specific audience you desire. Take this advice with the grain of salt that is the gnat-like attention span which SXSW attendees will be able to afford you. Call to action. Call to action. Call to action.
For Heaven’s sake, stay downtown.
This I didn’t do. If you can’t swing an early hotel or late Air B&B within a mile of the convention center, I wouldn’t bother with the
event at all. Trust someone who has made the mistake of not fully investing in accommodations only to suffer the consequences of several hundred thousand converging on Austin’s public transit and taxi system (which crashed utterly Friday night of SXSWi and didn’t revive until several days later – conspiracy? Hrmmm)
Lone Star Tall Boys and Crawfish Boils for the win.
This advice comes from Jeb Banner of Small Box, who advised me on the management of my drinking experience at SXSW under the ‘less is more’ category of sage advice in managing my metabolism.
And on the subject of consumption and pure indulgence, make sure you check out the Crawfish Boil put on by Kristian Andersen and the folks at KA+A. Delicious and good times for the Indianapolis startup crowd.
Some additional shout outs from the weekend – thanks to the guys at SproutBox for throwing an early-conference Hoosier basketball viewing party – much fun.
Have you checked out the Miss Pivot Interactive Blind Date at Stop Awkward Dating.com? You should.
Awesome hang out during the SXSW rainy season at Conduit Corner (complete with mac+cheese, ice cream, beer, hammocks, and a kick-ass DJ). For all of its confusion and bewilderness, SXSW offered up jewels like this one for better connections with fellow SXSW’ers. All in all, I’m looking forward to applying all this wisdom to a better execution next year.