As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to attend South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. I’ve always considered myself a nerd so attending a conference that combines music and movies, and technology was nothing short of heaven. Attending SXSW did not live up to the high expectations I had spent years setting– it superceded them! Although for someone who has been, the experience can almost be overwhelming. So I compiled a list of 6 do’s that can help make your experience even better.
1. Be Prepared to Walk.
SXSW takes over all of downtown Austin, most of the busier streets are closed for the onslaught of pedestrian traffic. Venues are scattered throughout the downtown area so comfortable shoes are a must! I would also bring water because while racing from showcase to party, its important to stay hydrated in the sweltering Texas Heat.
2. Be Flexible
( I literally got stuck in a flash mob, only at SXSW.)
Flexibility is key! Although lineups for shows and showcases are made months in advance “life” happens. You just never know what artist or panelist may or may not be able to make it to SXSW. Lineups are always changing, don’t cling to your schedule too tightly, be ready to adapt! This, in my opinion, is what made the experience the most exciting!!!
3. Arrive there EARLY!
Parties during SXSW are the only parties where RSVP doesn’t mean guaranteed entry. Yes, the person who did RSVP two hours before the party, that you previously RSVPd to weeks ago, could possible get in before you if they are ahead of you in the line. Although shows rarely start on time they tend to open the gates on time and the bigger the artist, the longer the line and greater the chance you WON’T get in to see the show. RSVP and get there EARLY! (Unless you have press passes of course, oh the delight!)
ANYWAY BACK TO THE TOPIC AT HAND…
4. Stay Linked in.
If you aren’t on Twitter or Facebook, yes there are still some of them out there, then SXSW is the best time to get acquainted or reacquainted. This is especially true for someone who has never been to SXSW. Social network sites will be one of the best guides during your SXSW experience! These sites will keep you aware of the locations of “secret shows” or locations to recharge a cell phone or laptop. Don’t only rely on social networks, take advantage of websites like Eventbrite and RSVPster to help find showcase and RSVP to them for free.
( this phone charger at an American Airlines event saved my life but following @sxsw on twitter helped me find it)
5. You will get FREE stuff… BRING A BAG!
SXSW is swag heaven! There are tons representatives from every company you could think of ranging from MTV to American Airlines. Those companies and their reps will want to put of their merchandise in your hands; trust me they will fill up quick! I got everything imagiable from aluminum water bottles (thanks ASOS!) to free shoes from Converse and more t-shirts than I care to count. Theres nothing worse than being in the hot Texas sun lugging around 10 Swag bags from venue to venue.
6. Network, Network, Network!!!
So many people come to SXSW with many different goals. Filmmakers, musicians, managers and publicist, and marketing execs were everywhere! There tens of thousands of people in town with tens of thousands of goals, you never know who you will run into and how long you have to make an impression. Make sure that you bring lots of business cards! Send someone to your Facebook, Twitter or WordPress, with links to all of your other works. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to anyone! If you’re within their range, don’t stop and stare or just stop to take a picture, if you’re there for business, NETWORK!