The Newbie's Guide to #SXSW

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  • March 5, 2015
  • INK Team

This blog post comes from INK intern, Vi Tran. 

Word on the street is that there’s some big tech conference happening down in Austin, TX. You might have heard of it – people call it South by Southwest, or SXSW for short. In just a few short weeks, our little home of Austin will be filled with industry veterans who can’t count the number of times they’ve attended SXSW on just their fingers and toes. But what about the rest of the community? What about those of us who are attending for the first time?

Let’s admit it – SXSW is overwhelming, but there’s a certain magic and hope for increased innovation that keeps everyone coming back. Here are some hacks to get you through your first and hopefully not your last SXSW experience.

99 problems, but don’t let Texas weather be one

Before you start packing your suitcase with warm weather clothing, check the 7-day forecast. March in Texas can range from anywhere between the best sunshine you’ve ever experienced to cold and rainy days that can rival with Seattle. Be prepared to wear appropriate shoes that are meant for walking – even with the possibility of warm weather.

Social Media is Your Friend

Whether you’re live tweeting the session you’re attending or searching for events – stay up to date on social media. Search hashtags such as #SXSWi and #SXSW. Social media can even lead you to secret events such as networking happy hours or concerts.

Keep the Juices Flowing – Your Battery Juice

From tweeting, texting, surfing and picture taking, your battery will drain. If you have an additional battery pack – use it. Even for those of us who aren’t fans of live tweeting every event, you’ll still need your phone for the essentials such as texting, calling and rideshare (i.e. Uber and Lyft).

It’s Okay to Talk to Strangers

Whether it’s local Austinites who have seen the town turn from a little humble abode to a tech giant or a Silicon Valley entrepreneur ready to make a pitch at any point, talk to everyone. You can learn about secret shows, sessions, happy hours or just gain a new contact. More importantly, you can find restaurant gems and cool venues, just by chatting with the guy or gal sitting next to you on the metro bus heading downtown.

Are you a SXSW veteran? What advice do you have for the newbies heading into town?