Countdown to SXSWi: It's Austin, Jake...


Okay, first? Don't sweat it; let it go.

As with any endeavor that demands time, attention and energy of you, after preparation, the most important thing is to get your head in the right place. No matter how many of the things I mentioned in Weeks 1 & 2 that you ignored, and hey, if it's any consolation, I ignored some of them, too, there are a few things you can do to see that your days in Austin are as excellent as possible. Ready?

Rest up. Seriously.

Even extroverts get tuckered out at SXSW. That's why they describe the benefits of the Disco Nap at the SXSW for n00bz panel on the first day of the conference.

Rather than running around trying to get everything done just before you go (like I did, last year), just go. Open yourself up to possibilities and random encounters. And while you're still here, take your vitamins, eat right and get plenty of sleep. Forego the coffee and nap on the plane, if that works for you.

Basically, arrive with a full tank. It opens up far more in the field of possibilities.

Ask. Ask. Ask.

Last year, I invited myself to dinner, to drinks (several times) and to events. "Where are you going?" and "What looks good to you?" are perfectly acceptable queries. Strike up conversations with people in line for movies or coffee; close your laptop (if you even bring a laptop) and talk to the person next to you. Trust me: the relationships are more important than the information.

Rarely did I get shot down. The worst that happens is that you end up having a nice, albeit brief, conversation, and move on to the next thing.

Plug in.

Right now: go to Twitter search and look for #sxsw; see who comes up. See who rings your bells. Follow them. If it gets too distracting, you can unfollow some other people and switch it all back when you're home again.

You want to be able to know what's going on. Unless something freaky goes down, my guess is that you'll know what's going on via the Twitter. (Or through those people you're meeting in lines, at panels, in the halls, walking to the Convention Center, etc.)

Some other random things to remember:

  • your refillable water container (please remember to drink EXTRA water; hydration is important!)
  • hand sanitizer (you think I'm kidding? I don't wanna get a cold for my welcome home present)
  • earplugs (motel rooms are noisy; sleep, priceless)
  • program your friends' mobile numbers into your phone along with their names NOW (for calling, but also for texting: critical!)
  • your wedding wasn't perfect, either (seriously, it's JUST a conference, even if it is a big one)
  • have fun (or what's the point)

I'm @communicatrix on Twitter (and everywhere else); in person, I'm the tiny, bepectacled, slightly-plump-about-the-midsection lady who will probably have bleary, bloodshot eyes (curse of air travel for me) and either a cup of coffee, (eco-friendly) bottle of water or cocktail in her hand. Say "hello," wouldja?

It's high time we met up...


P.S. If you missed them and are interested, here are Parts 1 and 2.

Image by who knows, dammit, it was late at a party via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.