5 Mistakes You Must Avoid at #SXSW

It’s that time again where SXSW go’ers are flooding Austin and one of the world’s largest interactive, music, and film conferences are taking place. Conference virgins are in full swing and many are coming to SXSW with expectations of grandeur and meeting their digital idols. But be warned…SXSW can open your inhibitions and land you face down in the street after hardcore partying with industry leaders and not remembering what you learned or did the night before. Our first piece of advice is not to get caught up in the craziness that is SXSW. Let loose, but not too loose.

Here are five mistakes that you must avoid this year at South by Southwest:

Dress Attire. Think Nerd Prom. Chicken suits, costumes, and casual reigns supreme at South by Southwest. Unless you’re planning on hitting up a career fair, dress fun and casual. Make sure the shoes you’re wearing are appropriate for walking a lot of standing in the back of a session that is at capacity. Anywhere you go from venues to the after parties are a good 15-minute walk, so you’ll want to make sure you wear shoes suited for walking.

Poor Planning. Don’t think you’ll go into South by Southwest seeing and doing everything without a plan. All SXSW sessions are online and the conference even offers a very easy way to plan your schedule and have it all in one neat space online. Make sure to plan where you’re going, what parties your attending, and pick out the top three things you want to do no matter what.  Plan to attend only two sessions a day and pre-register for as many parties as possible even if you don’t plan on attending.

Recharging. No, we aren’t just talking about your cell phones and iPads (which is extremely important), but recharge yourself. Remember those days when your mom told you to drink plenty of water? Listen to her this week. Drinking plenty of water and getting at least 4-5 hours of sleep each night will increase your networking and drinking skills for the following day. Taking extra battery packs for your electronics might also be a good practice.

Brew Your Own Coffee. This might seem like a ridiculous bullet point, but for those that have been to South by Southwest know that even for the shittiest of coffee you’re going to be waiting thirty minutes or longer. Brew before you go or pack some instant coffee in your bag for the convention center.

Plan Your Departure. Everyone and their mother will be flying back home on Wednesday. Call a cab early and make sure you’re at the airport 2-3 hours before your flight is scheduled to leave. Just think, 24,000 people and 80% of them will be flying at the same time. Airports will be packed and you might still be recovering from the hangover from the night before.

SXSW will be one of the best and one of the busiest times of your life. Avoid these quick pitfalls and your experience will be even better. Drink, eat, and be merry because before you know it, you’ll be in your cubicle at work daydreaming about the late nights and crazy times.

What do you avoid?

Have you learned to avoid certain things at SXSW? Tell us! 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


    • Carol Evanicky says

      Thank you for the tips, this is my first time and SXSW and I am trying to obtain advice from as many sources as I can on how to get the most from this experience.


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