With the inaugural event just 10 days away, we thought we’d bring out our best of the best tips for SXSW and modify it a bit specifically for SXSW V2V!
Making the most of your time
Stock up on sleep before the event, and expect to be sleep deprived by the end of it. Any quality time you can get in bed (sleeping) is worth it. We humbly suggest taking quick siesta between the last session of the day and the evening events.
Remember the ABC’s of SXSW (any SXSW event) Always Be Charging.
Memory cards and USB sticks are great for making on the go back-ups of important pictures and videos you take. When you stop to charge, back-up and sync your devices as well.
What happens at SXSW does not stay on SXSW – EVEN IN VEGAS. It’ll be online, tagged, pictured, status updated and indexed within seconds for the world to see.
Mac users, bring the VGA dongle for your Mac so you can easily hook into a projector.
Pack smart, so you can cope with both the heat in the day, and “Dress to Impress” at night.
Consider not drinking any coffee between now and the start of SXSW. Once you start back, you’ll feel the full effects just when you need it the most.
This truly is a marathon and not a sprint so pace yourself, especially on the first day.
Make room on your Hard Drive before you leave so you can back-up without worrying about the space requirements
Carry some screen wipes for your laptop.
If you’re at SXSW on your own, at least have a buddy that knows to check out for you each day. It’s not a paradise out there, be safe, especially at the night-time parties.
Your first time at SXSW?
You cannot “wing” SXSW, don’t believe anyone who says you can. By all means leave a lot of time to serendipity, but have the outline of a plan and use the online scheduler.
Who’s your BFF for SXSW? Sharing the experience with one other person, even over a quiet coffee once a day is a great way to decompress and take stock of your time in Austin
Pack a spare pair of sunglasses.
SXSW is a very casual conference – shirt and tie is not needed, even if you;re having a big meeting.
Surviving the Conference
Ask on Twitter and Facebook “Who’s going to SXSW” so you can start with a little mental network of people you know, or need to meet
It might be a party, but keep the right side of the law in terms of drink driving, drugs, and everything else. Especially for those flying in from abroad because you may want to get back in to America!
Tag the business card you’ve just been given with a few key words about the meeting or what needs followed up. You’ll have a lot to get through when you get home and the aide memoire will help.
If you must schedule meetings, schedule them over Breakfast – the rest of the day is far too hectic.
Don’t go to parties expecting to be able to network, they are always packed and too loud. Use the quiet time right before a session starts to chat up those seated around you, they obviously have a common interest since they are in the same session.
Follow through. It’s unlikely you’ll seal a deal in the halls of the Convention Centre, but you’ve got a name, a connection and a business card. Use them in April
If you know everything about “Social media and the ROI for banana sellers”, then why are you attending that panel instead of “Squirrel herding for talent spotters?” Step outside your comfort zone and learn something new.
Not sure what you should be doing? Introduce two of your friends (new at SXSW or old established ones, it doesn’t matter) and bask in the karma of helping SXSW be the best mixer on the planet.
Get your badge picked up as soon as possible. Registration is on the fourth floor.
You have a silent mode on your mobile. Use it when you’re in any panel!
Want to get in to the keynotes? Get there early and start queuing. There will be overspill rooms streaming them as well, but as with everything, balance a well prepared keynote to meeting new people, and the smaller sessions scheduled opposite the latest Web 2.0 “hero”
Stuck for what to do? Ask the person next to you what they’ve seen / who they’ve heard / what new app they have. It’s far nicer than Google.
The most important search term on any network? #sxsw Just be aware it’ll be very busy, so consider doing #sxsw AND #somethingelse
It’s natural to hang out “in a group” during SXSW, but you’re there for more than one day. Think about creating a new posse every morning over breakfast or in the queue to the first session
Consider setting up a Twitter list of your close friends who are at SXSW, and use that “saved list” to quickly see what’s going in your circle. Far easier than searching on tags!
Stuck in line for a party? Grab the people around you in the queue, walk away, and find a bar, a corner, or a revolving door. Call it #queueparty2013 or something else funky, twitter it out, and just put on your own party right there and then.
Carry a map. A paper map. It won’t break down, run out of charge, and is always there.
Found a good bar or club? Don’t forget it. If you’re having a rough night then heading to your comfort location will always work out.
If you’re in a group on a night out, think of choosing a “rally point” if you get split up. Be here at 11 is a great rule.
Need people to have lunch with? Stop four people in the halls at random and say “Shall we get lunch and introduce ourselves on the way?”
Take care of yourself
Yes SXSW is a long event, but that doesn’t mean tak it easy on Day 1. Hit the ground running, but at a pace you know will let you still be standing (just) as you get on the plane to leave.
Suntan lotion. Lots. Especially if you’re from more northerly latitudes, you’re going to burn fast.
The illness everyone blogs about hen they get back, SX-Sars, isn’t a bug, it’s not taking care of yourself. Listen to what your body is telling you during SXSW.
Pop some fruit in your day bag and snack on that for tiffin’ and afternoon tea.
Don’t skip breakfast, get a good mix of food and be set up for the day.
Get some sleep. If you haven’t got that, you haven’t got anything.
Lots of people, lots of shaking hands, lots of potential bugs. Carry tissues with you for sneezes, and a little hand sanitizer never fails.
Sleep the night before you leave – as much as you can. Pack two nights before and make sure you are rested.
Carry some non-drowsy allergy medicine.
Keep drinking water. Drink some more. Then refill a water bottle and drink more. Otherwise you will dehydrate.
The time you take to walk between venues might be good socialising time, but it’s also great “down time”.
Rob Lagesse nails it… chapsticks rock
A handful of band aids take up very little room in your bag, and will doubtless be used (even if it’s just for blisters)
What to carry with you?
You want to leave with as many different business cards as possible. Think of it as a big game of swap. We don’t mean the ones they hand out on the Strip though.
Spare ear plugs? Use them at night to avoid the room parties, and to get some sleep on the plane home.
There’s an easy way to double the battery life on your phone (or laptop) without relying on finding a plug… buy a second battery.
Do you really need your laptop? It’s heavy, demands you be near a plug, and stops you meeting people apart from those sharing a power strip with you? Leave it at home for at least one day and see what happens.
Rechargeable battery packs for your smartphones and PDA’s are wonderful inventions Lots of them abound but I personally would recommend PowerMonkey (https://www.powertraveller.com/iwantsome/primatepower/000239/)
Bring a second pair of shoes to give your feet a break. Cushioned in-soles are worth considering as well.
One addition to your bed time routine. Put everything you own on charge, no matter if they say they are full. Get in the habit.
Someone wearing converse trainer isn’t a hipster, they just know how much walking is involved.
The longer the week goes on, the more that dark sunglasses are your friend.
Got the chance to charge up your smartphone, laptop or netbook? Take it. Whenever you get the chance to charge something, be charging something.
If you want to be the most popular attendee, bring a power strip of plugs for people to share.
Have a comfortable bag that’s good for you and your back to carry everything for the day. Assume you’ll have it on your back, with laptop, water and snacks for six days without a break.
When in Vegas
Make use of the complimentary shuttles to and from the evening events, but don’t hesitate to just pop in a cab if you don’t feel like waiting to get back to your hotel at the end of the night.
Try to make some time to take in a truly Vegas event, we humbly suggest the Penn & Teller show at the Rio (dark Mondays), we’ve seen it and we want to see it again!
Getting in town early on Sunday before the event? Take in any one of the free/inexpensive show on the Strip in front of the various resorts. The dolphin exhibit at Mirage is a favorite.
Ask your concierge about discount tickets to shows and where to get them.
There is plenty to see and do along the Strip, but keep your wits about you, don’t be a victim.
Don’t ask where the CSI guys are.
Some Final Thoughts
Say yes to everything, get every experience, and just go crazy. This is a roller coaster that you’ll want to stay on as long as possible.
Even if there is something better around the corner, enjoy the moment you are in – that’s the best one.