Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My First SXSWi

by Hannah DeMilta

What is SXSW interactive?

Joking referred to as spring break for geeks, SXSW interactive is a week long festival and conference held in Austin, Texas. It is one of the premiere social media and technology conferences of the year. There is also film and music component that take place during the same weeks. You can buy a badge for the separate conferences or one that covers them all. People come from all over to take part in keynotes, panels, discussions, meet ups and parties.

Why it matters to me?

I wanted to attend SXSWi for a few reasons. First, I knew it would be a great networking opportunity for me. There were people I wanted to meet in person who I had only communicated with online before, and I also made a ton of new contacts. I also wanted stay current in industry trends and stand out with my upcoming job search. I knew that by simply having this experience I was giving myself an edge and I learned a lot. Lastly, I wanted to go because I knew it was going to be a lot of fun…but if my Mom asks you I went for the education.

Why it should matter to you.

Too often we are guilty of sitting behind our computers and forget to “get out and get seen.” I traveled to Austin by myself and quickly had to conquer any fears I had about meeting new people because I had no choice. Get out of your comfort zone and take a trip like SXSWi. Make those in person contacts and allow yourself to be a part of a big picture event. It might take some extra energy, time and resources but is worth the effort in my opinion.

Some Lessons Learned.

I’m a small fish in a big pond (or ocean). I already knew this, but sometimes I forget. Going to SXSW humbled me and at the same time inspired me. I met a lot of passionate people during that week. I have a lot I want to accomplish and goals I want to reach in my lifetime. There is no better time get moving and taking action. I also appreciated the power of idea sharing in groups of like minded people. I was soaking up all that knowledge at once.

Additionally I gained some insight on how to better use social media for marketing businesses, events, etc. I loved that so many restaurants and bars in Austin had their Twitter handle on display and not just because SXSWi taking place. All of the attendees had QR codes on their name badges that could be scanned by other attendees. It was fun for a technology focused conference but soon ideas like this will become the new standard.


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