Think Thoughts

Highlights from a South by Southwest Newbie

March 12, 2014
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A colleague and I recently returned from an overwhelmingly overwhelming and wonderful experience in Austin this past week for the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference. Neither of us had ever been to the host city, much less the multi-day extravaganza. Bottom line — we will definitely be back next year.IMG_4996

For those of us in the PR/marketing, social media, and technology fields, there is so much to discover and I wish we had stayed the extra two days. There truly is something for everyone and I’d just like to touch on a few things that I learned this go around.


  1. Bring plenty of business cards. My goal was to attend sessions and learn, but there were so many opportunities to network, and even boldly job hunt. So make sure you you have cards on hand. It may be a technology crowd but tangible cards still seem to be the gold standard.Paypal Store
  2. Make a plan and get there early. The SXSW app was incredibly useful but no where did it tell us the capacity of the venues or the fact that many people would try to attend the same sessions. We stumbled a bit on our first day and missed several sessions. By day 2 we decided to select a venue first and then decide what to attend. And we learned to arrive an hour to ½ hour early in case a line started to form.
  3. Hit the lounges. Inside or outside, there are tons of experiences to be had outside of the session in the various lounge areas. The PayPal lounge was our favorite. A place to recharge, eat, drink, and shop for some great item at $.01 each using the PayPal app. I got some nice earbuds and a portable phone charger!
  4. Go to every booth in the trade show. You never know what you might find useful. We had the good fortune of running into a fellow Louisvillian from a company called Social Compass that has great potential for my clients. Plus it was nice to run into someone from our neck of the woods. Some of the reactions of those from New York and Los Angeles when we told them about Louisville were interesting to say the least.
  5. Know how to get around. There are many transportation options available to conference attendees — shuttles, grab a Chevy, bikes, car sharing.Paypal Portable Phone Charger
  6. Use your social networks. Tweet, Instagram, Facebook your little hearts out. Other than connecting in person, you never know who might want to meet up with you via your social channels.


I’m still collecting my thoughts from this amazing experience and will be sharing some of the lessons learned in my next blog post. Of course, if you were following @thinktanklou on twitter or @blevity on Instagram, you were most likely along for the ride anyway. If you weren’t, maybe you should be!