SXSW 2014 Tips

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We asked Spots who attended SXSW in 2011, 2012, & 2013 to give us their tips for a great/exhausting/productive/fun conference. Here's what they gave us.

We asked Spots who attended SXSW in 2011, 2012, & 2013 to give us their tips for a great/exhausting/productive/fun conference. Here's what they gave us.

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  • 1. SXSW 2014 tips from Spots
  • 2. DS.
  • 3. People & Location > Topics. Plan your panel schedule around who’s speaking, and how convenient it will be to get to from your last event, rather than strictly focused on the topic of their talk.
  • 4. Rainey Street. Where it’s at for chill front porch music showcases, good craft beer, and avoiding 6th Street.
  • 5. Eventbrite & Google. It’s worth it to do the legwork in Feb & March to find the free events and parties. Smaller venues, better conversations, great food & drinks.
  • 6. Swag on the Street. The best swag you’ll find is walking around downtown Austin.
  • 7. Austin (Coffee) > Seattle. Progress. Flat Track. Juan Pelota. Bouldin Cafe. Jo’s. Not Easy Tiger. That’s a myth. Don’t bother checking. We swear.
  • 8. The “Houses”. Actual houses, open all day, sponsored by the likes of Mashable, Pandora, Airbnb, Brooklyn Brewery.
  • 9. EB.
  • 10. Don't buy food or drink. It is free everywhere during the conference. So are concerts, before the music part starts.
  • 11. Don't bring your threespot bag. You think if you're going to be away from your hotel all day you need stuff, but you don't. Pen, paper and your iPhone charger are about all you need. And your ID.
  • 12. See the city. Don't spend your entire day in the conference center. Hit the sessions in other places, and walk if you can. 
  • 13. KG.
  • 14. Embrace serendipity. Have a plan, but be ready to throw it away for something better. Some of the best things I did I didn't plan for.
  • 15. Get to sessions early. More than once I couldn't get into one because it was already full. 
  • 16. Frank. Anything on Rainey Street. 
  • 17. Review the attendee list. Try to set up a few coffee/beer meetings with interesting people while you're there. The sessions are usually too big to have any meaningful conversations.
  • 18. Silicon Valley is the new Hollywood. Don't get too caught up in the hype—find really tactical sessions and workshops to balance out the big-name interview/roundtables.
  • 19. Eat a salad Or something healthy. But only once.
  • 20. LO.
  • 21. Find out in advance if any of your clients are attending Find them/connect. It's nice to see them out of context.
  • 22. Keep your eyes open. Most of what I learned there I saw in the "wild", not in sessions. 
  • 23. Track down the RVIP lounge. It will change your life. ;-)
  • 24. MG.
  • 25. ALWAYS BE CHARGING!
  • 26. Bring a water bottle and use it for water. Walking, drinking, listening, talking = thirsty
  • 27. Bring a warm sweater. Conference rooms (and Austin) get chilly.
  • 28. Don't be a slave to finding the free food. It's there, there is a lot of it. There will be more in an hour, somewhere else. I had some incredible free food. But my god it was lovely to sit down at a restaurant, get served, drink lots of water and diet coke, and order something from a menu. All by myself.
  • 29. Go to (some) things on your own. It's a long week, give yourself space.
  • 30. Do your research. Have a plan, but don't be a slave to it. (seems no duh)
  • 31. Also research non conference things. Google Village, the Spotify House, the Canada House - all amazing in their way. Get on VIP lists - again, do some research, get on a list or two but don't stress if you don't. 
  • 32. Have some freaking fun! It's amazing! Be open and soak it in.  I wish I was going with you!
  • 33. MK.
  • 34. Twitter Hashtags. Especially for secret events and free food/swag.
  • 35. Don't have a plan The best things I ended up doing were not planned. From Exploring Google Village, Miike Snow concert, meeting people from R/GA, concerts etc. Don't be afraid to break from your schedule.
  • 36. Talk to people in line Simple, but a few of the attendee's I spoke with in line have become good friends and are great for networking. One even helped me find my apartment in Brooklyn. SXSW is a great opportunity for networking, recruiting and promoting Threespot.
  • 37. NC.
  • 38. Take some time to distance yourself from the conference (doesn’t need to be physical distance) to absorb all the information that’s coming in.
  • 39. Don’t go so big on the first night that you’re out of commission for the rest.
  • 40. WC.
  • 41. Take time to decompress because it’s a lot to take in. Never underestimate the amount of good a salad will do your body. Or going back to the apartment and watching a Will Ferrell movie.
  • 42. Check your social network and find people you know who are there for the conference. I was able to see people I hadn’t seen in 15 years last time.
  • 43. See You in Austin!