Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, South by Southwest is well known for its conferences and festivals that honor the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. SXSW has become an internationally recognized event that occurs annually for a week full of sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking opportunities.
This year’s installment is right around the corner, taking place March 9-18. Whether its your 1st SXSW experience, or your 10th, we’ve put together some helpful guidelines so you can make sure you utilize everything that it has to offer.
Check out these tips and tricks for making your SXSW experience as rewarding as possible.
With nine days full of events, it’s best to plan ahead so you’re not scrambling to get organized last minute. Set your goals, do your research, and reach out to everyone that you’re interested in networking with. Make sure to always include a personal touch and follow up before the event to let them know you’re looking forward to connecting.
Download the SXSW® GO app
SXSW® GO is the official mobile app for getting the most out of attending SXSW 2018. Browse the lineup, create your personal schedule, and plan out your panels, events and the latest. You can also sync the app with your Spotify account and get recommendations on new artists you might like.
Set up meetings
The SXSW Social site allows you to search for and message other conference attendees, making it a useful tool for setting up meetings. Networking is one of the most important parts of SXSW, so make sure to update your profile on the SXSW Social site and reach out to new colleagues and friends before, during and after SXSW.
Once your schedule is determined, the next step is to make sure you’re on time for all of the events you plan on attending. SXSW music events tend to have very long lines, so if you want to check out the latest artists and top conferences, then make sure to get to each venue early!
Even if you have a good memory, it’s impossible to remember every point of various conversations you’ll have throughout the day. SXSW is nine days long, so carry a notebook with you (or use your phone) and make sure to take a few key notes after every conversation that you can look back on once it’s over.
Don’t overlook anyone
SXSW is full of networking opportunities, and every conversation is a potential opportunity for making a worthwhile connection. Whether or not it seems worth your time to chat with someone, you never know where they will be with their career down the line, so always listen to what someone has to say and make sure to exchange business cards.
Confidence is key. When you establish your value and go into every conversation with a positive and open mind, people are more likely to remember the encounter. If you’re nervous, have practice runs with a friend before you hit the event and jot down some ideas for small talk in case of any lulls in conversation. Everyone is at SXSW to network, learn, and have fun, so stay positive and don’t overthink things and you’ll do just fine!
Once you get home and wind down from all of the fun you had at SXSW, you’ll want to reach out to everyone you connected with. Send them an e-mail, connect with them on social media, and show them that you’re interested in continuing to build a relationship with them. When all is said and done, you’ll want to look back on your time in Austin, Texas and feel like you made the most of it.
South by Southwest will be here before you know it, and it’s never too early to start planning. Good luck and have a fantastic SXSW!