This will be my third time at SXSW. And, my first time now that I’m a local Austinite. (Yay!). I wanted to share a few tips that I learned from the past two times I attended this awesome conference. Here’s five tips for the SXSW newbie.
1. Have a plan
SXSW can be overwhelming for everybody. Let alone, someone who has never been before and/or isn’t familiar with Austin. Panels will be spread out across the convention center and several downtown hotels. And, the parties can be spread out even further. It’s best to have a general gameplan beforehand. Or else, you may find yourself sprinting between the AT&T Conference Center Hotel and the Convention Center in 15 minutes. Not recommended.
2. Be spontaneous
I know this may seem counterintuitive to my first point. And, it is kind of. One of the best things about the five days of SXSW interactive is the serendipity that occurs in the streets of downtown Austin. You are pretty much guaranteed to run into people that you know on and offline. Don’t be afraid to throw your plans out the window to go grab a breakfast taco or a beer with a Twitter buddy. It’s all a part of what makes this conference unique and great.
3. Reach out to other people who are attending
I’ve created my now semi-annual Twitter list. This is where I compile a list of people that I know will be in Austin for SXSWi. It also makes it incredibly easy to open up just one stream on Twitter to connect and make plans with people during SXSW.
4. Carry your charger(s) with you.
You will use your smartphone and/or tablet more than you ever thought possible. And your battery will likely die faster too. Having a charger on you will ensure that you stay connected throughout the experience. Oh and if you want to be really nice, bring a power supply or small extension cord too. Power outlets are a huge commodity. This is a guaranteed way to make fast friends with other wired attendees. Power buddies!
5. Embrace the chaos and the late nights!
You are guaranteed to have long days, late nights of partying and probably too little sleep. You may even lose your voice (I did on only Day 2 last year). Just embrace it.
Bonus Tip: Pack for all kinds of weather.
**All of you out-towners, make sure to check the weather before you come out here. It will probably be 65 or 70 degrees the entire time you’re here. But, it can get cold in early March (It’s currently going to be 39 tonight. Brrr.) and it occasionally rains. So, make sure to pack that umbrella. (Everyone, who went last year, can attest to this last point!)
What are your SXSW tips? Please share them below in the comment section.