Surviving SXSWi (for Fun and Profit)

We wrote last week about a select few brands that embraced the chaos and made a splash at SXSWi – but making the most of your time in Austin isn’t just about maximizing brand exposure. There are many opportunities (and pitfalls) facing any attendee. How do you ensure you best represent your company, make those all-important business connections and (let’s face it, you know you’re trying to) have fun?

Luckily, TriplePoint is here with some quick tips on how to maximize your time without breaking your back, busting your liver or being a nuisance.

1. Plan ahead, but not too much. RSVP to every event you think there is a small chance you’ll attend, but realize that parties and networking opportunities are sure to randomly pop up. You may end up attending only 10-15% of the events you were planning to, so prioritize what you really want/need to hit each night and get to them early. From there, keep your ears open and your eyes on Twitter to see where the action is – often some of the most valuable conversations take place away from the bigger parties, at hotdog stands, hotel lobbies and after-parties (thanks R Kelly).

2. Connect online first. You know what they say about the best laid plans? Never truer than at SXSW, where everyone has an aggressive agenda and often miss appointments. Your way around that is to make connections before heading south – check out meetups, Facebook groups and tweet at people who you’re interested in.

3. Research what’s expected to “win” SXSW. This year Hashable was one of the most buzzed-about products. For those that were familiar and using it before landing in Austin, they were one step ahead and found it easier to connect with the Technorati.

4. Prepare for the day – and night. Bring comfortable shoes, aspirin and layered clothing options – Austin in spring is often warm while the sun is up and chilly at later hours. Also, plan on getting your sleep before and after SXSW; if you’re in bed at midnight you’re missing at least three hours of valuable party and networking time.

5. Book early. Have you tried hailing a cab at 2:30am to get to your hotel 20 miles from downtown? We didn’t, but saw plenty of semi-stranded people. Not a good way to end any evening, so secure convenient lodging before everything is snatched up (start looking now).

6. Stick around. Consider checking out the film and music portions of the show. It’s your chance to see some great bands and films, and you may meet some important industry contacts who have the same idea.

The show has gained the reputation as a huge, crazy party, and that’s very true in some respects, but it’s a crazy party that’s attended by some of the most interesting and important people in the industry. If you keep the above tips in mind and prepare your eyes, ears and liver, you’ll come out the other side battle-scarred but full of fond memories and valuable contacts.