The Best Times at SXSW are the Ones You Least Expect

SXSW ExpectationsThis is my first year at SXSW and coming down here, I was not sure what to expect.

I’ve heard both sides of the story. “SXSW is totally played out,” said one of my friends. “It was so much better a few years ago when they announced Twitter or Foursquare.” Or the other side of the spectrum from one of my other friends saying, “I can’t wait to go to SXSW. It’s one of the best learning experiences I have all year.”

So my assumption coming down to Austin was that there would be a mixed bag of emotions, some good and some bad. What I’ve discovered during my two days here is that SXSW is meant to be experienced.

You can’t plan it out fully ahead of time, but you also shouldn’t just free form it. The best middle ground is when you have a few things planned ahead of time, with large amounts of “filler” space in between.

For example, I had a specific session that I wanted to attend this morning. I knocked it out and then had a few hours in between to kill before the next event on my agenda.

To fill time, I walked around and found some old friends who also happened to be down here as well. I then stopped by a lounge and chatted with one of our agency partners for an extended period of time. Next, I popped into a few other sessions that I had originally had no intention of attending, only to find them incredibly interesting and inspiring. After this, I finally made my way over to the next session on my list.

If you’re curious, interested, technology focused, or just like learning and exploring, SXSW is a great place for you.

Everyone attending this event is here for different reasons, but if you have a story to tell, are pursuing your next big thing, or just want to hang out with fun, interesting people from all walks of life, it is an amazing experience.

Make sure to leave plenty of time for exploration. Don’t plan your entire day to be jam packed with sessions, meetings, discussions, etc. You’ll be too stressed out running from one station to the next to really enjoy the great moments in between, or the happenstance meeting you stumbled across while charging your phone or getting some pizza.