I’ve been saying this for over a week now but after recently coming back from a SXSW hangover filled with tacos, networking, beer, and some more tacos. I can safely say that SXSW was one of the best, if not the best event I’ve ever attended. This is a bold statement coming from me after being to top events in Singapore, China, San Francisco, New York, LA, and basically every other little cool town or city in North America.
Why do I feel this way? It’s really quite simple. Austin during SXSW attracts the top entrepreneurs, innovators, musicians, and creatives from around the world each year to attend this city-wide event that takes over the entire city of Austin. The people you meet and get to rub shoulders with is nothing like I’ve seen before.
People like Ashton Kutcher, Snoop Dogg, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Elon Musk were spotted at the same party during the opening weekend at SXSW this year. Imagine if you landed a 2-minute conversation with someone like that poolside at the W Hotel? It could be a make or break moment that could push you over the top.
Another aspect I enjoyed about SXSW is how it’s not a big stuffy shirt and tie networking event or sit down conference for 3 days. They cater to the next generation of millennials like myself who value comfort, fun, and convenience rather than flashy suits and attendees trying to sell you something every moment they can.
What Sets SXSW Apart
1. Diversity in Offerings
What I think is so appealing about SXSW for so many people is its diversity in offerings during the duration of the festival. They have interactive, music, film, and events happening at all times. Like, in all honesty, you will never be able to attend all the events you want to because you will meet someone interesting or get sidetracked by something else you find, that you will miss a session you really wanted to attend.
Nevermind the fact that some of the main events have massive lines at them that you can be in for a long time. I didn’t do this once because I knew I could always find a session or event that I wanted to attend somewhere else if there was a big line.
2. Next Level Networking & Learning
I want to paint a picture for you to get an understanding of the types of events I went to and the people I was able to connect and network with.
One day I went to the Dutch Haus for happy hour and met a lot of government and private sector professionals that are doing some amazing things in the Netherlands. Lots of them are focused on blockchain technology and smart city initiatives, a few areas that the Netherlands is looking to be a leader in. Then another day I went to the Scandinavian house and saw a speech given by the Crown Prince of Norway, to go along with meeting a Hollywood movie director at the same event.
Like I mentioned earlier, the people you can meet at SXSW are very diverse and include royalty, C-level executives, actors, musicians, and some of the top business leaders in the world.
Tips to Maximize SXSW
Now that I’ve been to SXSW after many years of deliberation it’s safe to say that I’m most likely going to be a lifer. With saying that, now that I’ve been at least once I wanted to share a few tips that will help you if you plan on attending in future years.
1. Just Go With It!
As mentioned earlier there is so much going on at SXSW at all times that if you plan everything out, you will be left disappointed. What I did is planned 1-2 events each day that I really wanted to go to and then the rest I just came up with as I walking around or talking with others. This allowed me the flexibility to walk in randomly on a blockchain panel at the Canada House where an old friend was speaking and another time where I ran into a few of the advisors for ShipChain.
“If I didn’t end up winging it, I wouldn’t have met lots of the people I did.”
2. Soak it Up!
You are most likely in Austin for SXSW to have fun and meet people. So you need to soak it up and do as much as you can while you are in the heat of it all. You can catch up on sleep, nutrition, and rest when you return home but if you are there for a day or a whole week, soak up the atmosphere as much as you can. The one person you meet at a happy hour, taco feast or a BBQ can make the entire trip worthwhile.
If this doesn’t get you to mark your calendars for SXSW 2019 next year then send me a message on Instagram and tell me why. If it does get you excited and want to attend next year feel free to send me a message and tell me what you want to experience the most!
Oh, and if you like tacos, there will be lots of them everywhere.
Clinton Senkow is the Co-founder & COO of Influencive where he manages and oversee’s all business development and partnership activities for Influencive. He’s also the CEO of Senkow Ventures which is a digital consultancy for high-growth startups and SMB’s, a member of the invite-only Forbes Business Development Council, and was named a “Top 20 Speaker by Forbes”. He’s also a three-time Top G20 YEA Entrepreneur representing Canada.