Practicing Responsible SXSW

Note: I originally wrote this post for Mikinzie Stewart’s blog PR Geek Speak, and luckily for me, I was able to recover it from there, even though I lost all my content. To all of you heading to SXSW or who are already there, have a fantastic time, learn tons and make lots of contacts!

As a SXSW virgin last year (I have the Foursquare badge to prove it!), I went to Austin thinking I was uber prepared, probably even too prepared. After about 10 minutes, I realized how grossly mistaken I was.

SXSW is an awesome, crazy and exhausting experience, and there are a few things that I picked up during my trip that will make your experience all the better next year:

  • Bring a map! With 10 different campuses, there’s a lot of walking. There’s no reason to walk circles around the convention center because you don’t know where Congress Street is.
  • Realize that there’s no way in hell you’ll be able to attend every panel. Most panels will be great but inevitably you’ll end up in one that isn’t what you expected or is a little too basic for you. Don’t be afraid to get up and leave! If you have multiple panels scheduled, you’ll be covered.
  • When planning your schedule, try to stay with the different tracks. This will help minimize the amount of walking too.
  • Want to connect with some Twitter friends that you’ve always wanted to meet? Decide on all the specifics of when you’ll meet up before you leave for Austin. Once all the craziness of SXSW begins, it becomes nearly impossible to get together. Whether it is meet-ups, panels or lunch, make plans ahead of time.
  • And the biggest tip of all: HAVE FUN! Take it all in, enjoy everything Austin has to offer, attend as many panels as possible and hit up all the parties.