I’m getting ready to head out of town again… It’s been a busy month. But this time around I’m heading to a mecca of new media/social media/technology minds. I went to SXSW for the first time last year and I learned SO much about the experience. If you ever have a chance to attend a conference this large, there are a few things you need to do:
1) Prepare your schedule. The trip won’t go exactly as planned, but knowing which sessions to attend will keep you motivated to wake up on time each morning. It will also help you with conversations when you meet new people. (“What session are you attending?” “Oh! I hadn’t thought about going to that event. Let’s meet up afterward and compare notes”) SXSW has great tools to help conference attendees keep up with the full schedule. I used a few mobile tools last year and it’s the only way I was able to keep up with it all.
2) Meet new people. There are so many people from so many different industries that attend this conference. Most events I attend are for journalists. SXSWi (which is short for South by Southwest Interactive) is a space for anyone with interest in interactive media. There are so many minds and products out there that you may have never thought could be useful for your profession. I learned a ton last year. Yes, I ended up meeting a lot of journalists, but I met others from marketing and software organizations that I would have never known met without this conference.
3) Socialize inside and outside the conference. SXSW is in Austin, Texas – a mecca for entertainment. There are amazing social events where I met and spoke to people I would have never met in conference sessions. It’s a wonderful opportunity to have fun, meet new people and pass those business cards around.
4) Follow up. I am terrible with this. I race home and spend time sharing the information I gathered from SXSW, but I didn’t sit down and contact each person I met. I wish I had. I’m actually planning on attending a session that may give me better tips on following through with the follow up.
I’m lucky to be connected to the Missouri School of Journalism and its many alumni. There’s a small gathering I’m planning while I take part in SXSW to give the Mizzou connections a chance to chat. I’ve found any opportunity that puts me in a different city, I have a great reason to bring alumni together.
By the way – I just stumbled onto this link about SXSW food. Yum.