It can be a daunting event, with up to 200 sessions available to attend each day you can feel overwhelmed with information overload. Add in the after-hours meetups, music shows, and gatherings you quickly realize how important it is to plan your day and prioritize what you want to see. Our strategy this year was to send several people and have them each attend different sessions then compare notes afterward. This worked out really well, and we didn’t feel we missed out on sessions that would be valuable. We also took the opportunity to scout out the venues and plan to possibly set-up a booth at the trade show next year. And what a large trade show it was.
So will we set up a booth at the trade show? We didn’t come back with a firm decision on that one. With the sheer number of booths and events that are at SXSW, it is hard to stand out from the crowd. Companies had to get creative, and the ones that did seemed to get noticed more. Many organizations rented out restaurants or other venues and hosted free drinks, music sessions, massage chairs, and food. Some had flash mobs on 6th st. All in an effort to attract people and get exposure to their product. Hopefully, they closed some deals and made some new connections, because the events weren’t cheap set-ups.
What was very apparent, however, from the very first day, was the numerous networking opportunities at SXSW. This festival/conference brings out collaboration, communication, and sharing among all the attendees. More so than most other conferences I have attended. You feel very open to talking to strangers about anything and everyone. We found this networking was the largest benefit for us. We met people and organizations we wouldn’t meet anywhere else because SXSW attracts businesses of all colors. You will find yourself finding partnerships in organizations you never imagined.
We are looking forward to next year, and we hope to see you there too. If you went there this year, drop us a line! We would love to see how you found the experience.