As tens of thousands of potential clients, collaborators, startups, and investors descend on Austin, it takes more than just business cards to make meaningful connections at SXSW. Getting the most out of SXSW 2017 requires some forward planning, plenty of battery life, and some comfortable shoes.

Today, you’ll be guided on how to make yourself stand out, stay fresh, and create worthwhile connections. Be sure to check out how atx FACTORY is kicking off SXSW 2017 with theCHIVE, Capitol City Records, and Team Austin on March 10th here.

Plan Ahead. Whether you attend South By Southwest every year or 2017 is your first rodeo, it is important to plan ahead to make the most out of your time. It is crucial you know why you are attending to assure you reach your goals.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you plan to achieve?
  • Who would you like to meet?
  • What do you have to offer to others?
  • What can you do to achieve these goals?

Do your research. Who from your network is attending? Can you reach out prior to SXSW and make a connection? Are you up to date with trends? Take a look at SXSWorld Magazine, which will update you with the latest trends before you arrive. Be sure to check Facebook, Twitter hashtags, and other online groups to find out who may be there and what social events people like you will be attending.

Transportation will be hectic. No matter where you are staying, it is important that you are aware of the time it will take you to get to your destination in the morning. Just like you, Austin will be filled with people trying to make their way to SXSW – be sure to give yourself enough time so you don’t miss out.  A portable phone charger may not be such a bad idea.

Create your own lineup. SXSW has a plethora of events and unfortunately you can’t attend them all (don’t worry–they will all be available to stream later!). Be sure to sign up for tickets in advance for the events that you are required to attend. Download the SXSW GO app to help you choose and plan which events to attend. When choosing events, be sure to attend the ones that are right for you. You want to have the ability to stand out, you never know when you will meet investors, advisors, or future business partners.

Although having a plan is important, it is also beneficial to be flexible. Whether you’re in your hotel lobby, at a food truck, in line for an event, or stuck in an elevator,  you never know when or where you may meet just the right person. Always be prepared with your elevator pitch.

Don’t be shy. SXSW is a networking event. Which means everyone is there to meet new people and create connections. Be sure to attend events and panels that you can participate in. Speak up! You want to stand out in the crowd. What is going to make someone want to talk to you over the person next to you?  When you make connections, remember you are there to learn from people who also want to learn from you.

Build Your Network. Ask lots of questions, but be creative. What is your one-word equity? Remember time is valuable to whoever you may be talking to– make your time count! Attend meet-ups, a one hour networking session filled with people who have the same interests as you. The time before and after these meet ups may be some of the most effective networking you have at SXSW. Whether you have ideas to give, need advice, or can help others with their idea’s, this is the place to be.

You can’t ever predict when you will find your new business partner, investor, mentor, or new friend. SXSW enables this by providing you with countless programs, meet-ups, concerts, films, and memorable events. While you’re at it, make sure you save time to everything else the beautiful city of Austin, Texas has to offer. You’ll be saying “ya’ll” in no time.

Author Monica Armstrong

More posts by Monica Armstrong

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