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One Nerd’s Journey to #SxSWi

Jon Woodroof

I just got back from attending SxSWi for the first time. I met a ton of people and saw a lot of great talks, but I also learned a lot about strategies for navigating the event itself. Here are my top tips for SXSW:

Arrive early

My first morning in Austin, I made an early arrival at the convention center to scope things out. I quickly learned my first SXSW lesson: Get to sessions even earlier than you think you should, because they fill up fast. This point was driven home when I encountered a line of people that wrapped an entire city block.

Your bike is your friend

Having my bike with me made getting around very easy. On the second day, some new contacts and I teamed up in search of lunch, but we only encountered a food truck that had literally run out of food. Luckily, my colleagues let me know that they were just sitting down at a spot on Congress Avenue. Having my bike made it possible to meet them quickly! Again, I passed long lines—but this time it was a long line of cars.

Use Instagram to document talks

Several people have asked me for the “wow moments” of the week. And at first I came up empty handed, as SXSW seemed much more of a flowing experience than a collection of brilliant moments. But then I turned to my Instagram and realized that I had used it to capture moments from talks that spoke to me, like this quote from Seth Godin.

Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes. And the changes are what you become. Change the outcome by changing your circle.

  • Seth Godin

Attending South By can be intimidating! If you’re like me, you’re there to better yourself and your company, and that is a tall order. Each day, I reassessed the coming day’s goals based on what I achieved the day before and how much time I had left in town. The panels, talks and people exceeded my expectations, and I’m glad I got to catch up with so many old friends and make so many new ones!

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