So I have to throw my 2 cents in about my experience at SXSW (as well as some tips based on my experience).
First…the peeps. I met and connected with some absolutely AMAZING individuals over the 4 days I was at SXSW. First, my awesome roommates, Rochelle Veturis and Jennifer Haubein: Jennifer and I have known each other for over a year, but this was the first time that Rochelle and I had met in person (and really we had only just met on twitter!). Jennifer thought we’d “get along” and it went way beyond that.
What can I say about these lovely ladies? It was a joy to room with them and we all got along wonderfully. In fact, there was one day that Rochelle and I just hung out in the room catching up on stuff, working and it was just such a companionable silence; neither of us talking, but so comfortable with that, occasionally commenting on something, but for the most part decompressing and having space.
Tip #1: Give yourself some space to decompress. SXSW was a whirlwind mentally and physically. You really need some time to just absorb and reflect (especially when you understand your basic personality).
I met some “new” people that I didn’t know from twitter or anywhere else, which was awesome, but I also wanted to connect more fully with some individuals and didn’t quite step out of my comfort zone to do that (my bad!)
Tip #2: Get out of your comfort zone and talk to those you want to talk to…you really won’t be bothering those people and you’ll be “shoulding” all over yourself if you don’t 😉
Tip #3: One thing that Rochelle and I learned was to comment on the person’s badge picture (this is especially handy if you didn’t catch the person’s name or you forgot!) “Oh wow, you’re pic looks so much better than mine” …or whatever. Now if the person doesn’t have a badge, you can ask them for their twitter handle, website, etc.
The parties….ah, the parties! We were very fortunate to have been invited to some cool parties (thank you Rochelle!) Gary Vee’s “secret” wine party ended up being not so secret; but we had a terrific time; the Microsoft VIP Party was off the hook (met some totally cool people there!), a few book launch parties;
Scott Stratten’s (@Unmarketing) book is coming out in October. He was incredibly gracious, nice, funny and what you see on the computer screen is what you get offline too. As I mentioned on Twitter, I took like 5 pictures and 4 of them are of Scott’s back while he was singing!
Shama Hyder Kabani also had a book launch party for “the zen of social media marketing”; if you’re looking for a quick, easy read with lots of very practical, actionable tips on using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and video, I highly recommend it. She too, was extremely gracious and took the time to offer tips and answer the questions we were pelting at her.
Brian Solis also had a book launch that we attended for his new book “Engage”. A well known thought leader, sociologist, and on the cutting edge of new media strategies, he also was very kind, engaging (ha!), and supernice. I’m looking forward to reading his book.
Tip #4: Listen more than you talk. I got some incredible information just be asking a few questions and listening…in a setting like this, people want to talk…let them. They will remember that you were the one who listened.
Tip #5: You will collect a bazillion business cards. Make a simple spreadsheet titled “SXSW”, enter the data and then throw the cards away, make a collage, placemats, or paper your wall with ‘em.
Tip #6: Now that you have the info…use it! Follow up with a tweet or an email about how great it was to meet that person at sxsw (reference where you met, etc.). Beyond being a smart business practice, it’s respectful and shows you care.
Tip #7: HYDRATE! I drank way too much coffee and other stuff. What I did not do was drink nearly enough water and I felt it big time. Buy some water at the grocery store and stock your hotel room, house, tent, car (wherever you’re sleeping) with some H2O; you’ll be glad you did.
One of my favorite times was hanging out at the AOL Seed Pod. I mean it was cool! MacBooks set up in the pods, cool wooden tree trunk seats (or round wooden balls if you’re working on your core), free drinks, food, and people checking in on you periodically to get you whatever you want. Because the pod is relatively small, it’s a great place to start conversations and yet when there are “lulls”, it becomes a little private office.
Tip #8: Plan on plans changing. It’s great to have a plan in place, but be prepared to go with the flow; a lot of the places we ended up were not in our original plans, but going with the flow creates a much less stressful experience.
Tip #9: Your perspective of the experience depends on…you! Did I need to spend the money on the badge? Probably not; now that I’ve been there and experienced it. So, now I know for next time. There’s no point in freaking complaining about it now…
Tip #10: It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and excitement of SXSW. Internet “stars” aside, just go, be you, have fun, and remember the “Interactive” part of the title…do it.
Did you go to SXSW? Are you planning on it? Am I going to meet YOU next year?