Beginners Guide to #SXSW
Jessica Miller-Merrell | HR| By
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This’ll be my second year attending the largest interactive conference in world, SXSW. I can honestly say by Monday evening (second to last day of the conference) I was ready to get the heck outta Austin. I had spent what seemed like more then 24 hours each day either attending conference sessions or parties with industry leaders. I packed up my bags early, changed my flight last minute, and left. I can honestly say I wasn’t prepared for the madhouse that is South by Southwest. Now that I am in my second year I have prepared a little more and I know what to expect, how to balance everything, and how not to overextend myself while in Austin for those 5-6 glories days. Here is my take on the beginners guide to sxsw and how to get through this non-stop week!
How to prepare for SXSW
- Prepare what conferences you’re going to beforehand: Look at the conference session list and plan out your daily schedule and be prepared to go with the flow if something else more important comes up. Networking trumps sessions and if you have an opportunity to go network with industry leaders — do it!
- RSVP to every party possible. It might be too late for this one, but go out, google “sxsw parties 2014” and go on a registering spree. Not interested or don’t think you’ll be able to attend all of them? Who cares?! You never know what will happen and registering prior will prevent you from getting the boot if you want to jump in one the party scene. Look up various guides online that have put out an extensive party list. Veteran note: Create an alternative email address to register for these parties — you don’t want millions of email spam before, during, or after the party!
- Famliarize yourself with the landscape of downtown Austin: Downtown Austin is big and it’s even bigger when your wondering around downtown at 2am at night. Familiarize yourself vaguely with the streets you’ll be frequenting and where the sessions your attending are being held at. This’ll prevent you from getting extremely lost while wondering the big city.
- Download Uber: Uber is your friend, period. Last year they offered free rides which was simply amazing. Although they aren’t doing it again this year, it’s important to have a good reliable means of transportation while in the city. Want to get free credit? Blogging4Jobs is partnering with Uber to provide $20 in free credit for your first ride when you sign up with our code: B4JUber
What to expect while you’re at SXSW
- No sleep for the entire week: Don’t expect to sleep at South by Southwest, at least for an extended amount of time. You’ll be attending well-thought out leadership sessions by day, dinner, then partying at night. Most parties last till 1 or 2am and then people will go out and party some more somewhere else. There are some clubs and bars in Austin that don’t close till 4am and they will be filled with SXSW’ers till all hours of the night. Sleep is already overrated so don’t expect much of it. You only live once and most people don’t attend SXSW every year simply out of cost and avalibility — enjoy it!
- People trump sessions: In my experience the sessions are a source of great imformation, but don’t miss out on connecting with leaders in your field because you want to learn “17 Ways to Become a Rockstar Coder” from a session. One of the major reasons I like SXSW is because i’m given a chance to network with those inside the HR & Recruiting industry and to connect with the people I talk to on a regular basis behind the computer screen.
- Connections galore! South by Southwest is not the time to channel your inner introvert, but to harness the powers of your extoverted skills. Last year I met this guy and we literally hung out the entire time, we got each other into different parties through connections as well as sustaining a friendship over the past year. We both work in the same field and shared valuable contacts and information as well as introducing each other to key players. Don’t be afraid to make connections and keep up with them through the year. You never know when you’re going to need a connection.
- Amazing Keynote Speakers. The speakers this year are incredible! These includeAnne Wojcicki, Adam Savage, and Chelsea Clinton. Expect and plan on attending these sessions. It’s important to get to these sessions early in order to prevent having to go into an overflow area. These are the best sessions to go to — don’t miss!
Good luck at South by Southwest this year and made the odds be ever in your favor! Make sure to attend our Social Siesta 2014 party at La Condesa!