SXSW interactive survival tips

February 25 , 2009 6 comments

Once upon a time…

geeks descended upon Austin in March with iPhones, SLRs, and laptops for a week long event that almost all of us look forward to each year.
But ... what if you are new to SXSWi and need some guidance? What if you are just too busy to think about it?

Pre SXSWi Tips

  • Schedule SXSWi sessions:Start taking a look at the schedule and plan accordingly.  Give yourself some backup sessions just in case you can’t get into the one you want.  If the session is really popular you might not be able to get in so for the ones you really don’t want t0 miss, get there early so you get a seat. The browser wars panel last year, for example, actually packed to the point where the doors were closed before the talk started.
  • Parties: Where to find them? A good place to start is upcoming.
  • Business cards: bring them so you have something to give someone when they hand you theirs (kinkos, moo cards, or whatever you fancy - because there are so many people we forget once sxsw is over and we can’t help it)
  • Texting plan:If you have a texting plan that isn’t unlimited or something ridiculously expensive change it for the month of March to avoid being shocked in April.
  • Twitter: if you aren’t on it then the rest of the geeks will stare at you as if you had three heads - go sign up and start using #sxswi09 in your tweets
  • Battery life for iPhone: If you have an iPhone get a Kensington Battery  or the other version of the Kensington battery  that they have (it charges one extra battery life. It helps when your twittering too much - after-all you can’t keep standing by the outlet can you?
  • Surge protector: what makes you popular at a geek event? and what is more coveted than anything else? Gadget juice - namely that stuff that makes our laptops and gadgets keep running. I have a Belkin Mini Surge protector which I bring - I love it because it also has 2 USB sockets on the side letting me charge the iPhone and my backup battery.
  • Anti-bacterial lotion: For those of you wondering where you got that cold from ... carry some of this.
  • Headache: it will happen between the running around, talking, staying up late, and for some - the drinking. You will want advil or some sort of headache relief to get you by.
  • Clothing:you’re an adult figure it out according to the weather. :P

During SXSWi Tips

  • Photos: If your at SXSWi you are going to be in someone’s photograph at some point, and it will live on Flickr. There is a statement that comes to mind.. “what happens in Austin goes on Flickr.”
  • Hyrdate:Drink lots of water, tea or something non-alcoholic to help your throat because after a couple days of talking to your favorite web celebrity you will want take care of that throat. It is a rookie mistake but seriously hyrdate!
  • Remembering people’s names: Take iphone pics or normal camera photos of them with their name tag (less of the who was that post sxsw).
  • Should you bring your laptop or not? Depends if you want to carry it around all day, if you want to blog or not at the event
  • Food: since there is a huge influx of people eating will take longer so plan accordingly, if there is a session you want to attend then it might be time to get it to go (Hilton Starbucks across the street or inside the convention center for a QUICK bite)

Geektiquette, and tips

  • Be nice to everyone, even if they aren’t on Techcrunch,Facebook or whatever will be hot and “current”. Everyone deserves courtesy.(Unless they are stalking you then all bets are off :P
  • Uploading photos: Don’t be the jerk uploading the hi-resolution photos/videos on conference wi-fi. It is a Geek FOUL!
  • When asking questions, ask questions. It is not a forum for you to bang on about your latest start up for five minutes before getting to the actual question.-Mark Norman Francis
  • Don’t sit with your friends. Sit next to people you don’t know at panels and introduce yourself before they begin. It may feel weird, but you’ll meet amazing people. Sleep is overrated.-Daniel Morrison
  • Invite people to lunch, dinner, coffee or something to get to know them better we’re all there to network and meet people who are excited about our industry.
  • Try to relax and not feel the pressure to do everything. My first year I was totally exhausted because I tried to hit every panel time slot, and every party possible. Last year I took it really easy and did less. Skip a panel and have a long lunch with some people, and maybe stay away from that big party so you can grab some pints at a smaller bar with some new friends. Use tools like twitter and brightkite to find out where people are gathering at the more unofficial spots.-Brian Warren
  • Don’t plan to meet people for dinner/lunch more than a day in advance. You don’t know who they or you will meet that day - and leave you’re laptop behind - you don’t need it during the event, nor do you want it to be your uninvited dinner guest.-Matt Harris
  • Wash your hands six times a day. SouthByScurvy is a threat to us all.-Chip D

Hopefully this will get you started! Have fun and see you in Austin!




Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12.30 am

Roy Vergara

Here’s another goodie for SXSWi scheduling


Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12.33 am


Thanks! I couldn’t find that link earlier. :)


Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12.42 am

Min Jung Kim

Folks should also check out resources including the SXSW Ning group, and the opening day panels on SXSW from veterans “How to Rawk Out at SXSW” that I usually run but am bowing out of this year cuz of the current 7 month in incubation project.

Great list though!


Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01.09 am

Kent Brewster

I’ve been keeping a set of notes to myself about SxSW ... the main one I keep forgetting to note goes like this:

At every crowded SxSW event, there is at least one guy wearing a backpack. Backpack Guy does not seem to get that his backpack sticks out behind him and makes him at least as wide front-to-back as he is side-to-side.  Please don’t be Backpack Guy; if you absolutely must bring your backpack, kindly shift it down under one arm as you shoulder your way through the crowd.

Warning: if you ram into my drink with your backpack, I will do my best to pour it straight in.


Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02.36 am

Paula Bee

Very helpful, Cindy! Also appreciate the warning re Backpack Guy. I remember him!

If you have registered for SXSW, you’ll have access to which contains the MOST up-to-date schedule info available.

Looking for old or new friends at SXSW? Search for SXSW attendees from your city, industry, etc. Find friends with Facebook Connect and twitter integration too.

Blatant self-promotion: This was created by The Social Collective (I helped)! Mobile edition coming soon. Send suggestions (and kudos) to @nowgetsocial

See you in Austin!


Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 09.54 am


Remember if you are coming into the USA you need to fill out extra paperwork.


Constantly, trying to learn new things, and on the way I get to meet some amazing people with my camera by my side. XOXO!

on Flickr