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- Don’t worry about the badge. If you’re here for the sessions, that’s one thing. If you’re here to meet people, you don’t really need the badge. Sure, you might get into some VIP lounges with the thing, but you can meet equally important people at offsite lounges and other events.
- Don’t worry about the sessions. Go to them if you can, but don’t worry if you miss them. Many of the larger ones are available online. If you’re here to network, network. Don’t skip a meeting because you have a session. The person is more important than the session.
- Start networking in advance. My go-to choice has been Twitter and email. I didn’t make much use of SXSocial (available only with a badge), maybe because I couldn’t find people on the silly thing.
- Set aside money for parking. I’ve paid five dollars at the low end and twenty dollars at the high, but I’ve heard of people paying as much as thirty dollars to park for the day. Carpooling is helpful here, too, but it can be dangerous. Everybody’s running around with people. They may or may not keep to the schedule that the driver wants to keep.
- Pack for the day. Once you find a parking spot, you aren’t going to want to move unless you have scads of money to spend on parking. I’m guessing you don’t or won’t want to spend all your money on parking, so find a spot and bring whatever you’ll need with you.
- Pack chargers for your phone and laptop. Even if your phone has the best-of-the-best battery, you’re going to kill your phone within a few hours. Bring your charger. You’ll be a sad panda if you don’t. (Yes, I said “sad panda.”)
- RSVP for offsite lounges. You may be able to find some places to charge your devices, but they may be crowded. It’s best to RSVP for a few of the offsite lounges. You can score a charging station, and you’ll be able to meet new people and to gain a book or t-shirt.
- Bring water. I give a hat tip to Jeff Esposito for this one. Water is essential. Pack a bottle. Refill it as needed. Also, bring snacks.
- Bring an extra bag. I had my laptop bag, but as I was given free t-shirts and other things, I was glad to have an extra bag.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll do a lot of walking even if you park close to some of the main events. Prepare footwear accordingly.
- Get phone numbers. Twitter’s great, but it sometimes has a delay, not to mention the occasional fail whale. Get people’s numbers.
- Have fun. Even if you’re here to drum up business, have fun. Go to a film. Go to a party. Spend time with friends.
Any tips you’d add? Questions about the SXSW experience? The comments are yours.