8 Ways to Make the Most Out of SXSW 2014 (free calendar tool)


SXSW 2014 promises to be another fantastic event!  I have compiled a list of 8 easy ways to make the most out of SXSW 2014.  I came up with these little tips after many years of being quite inefficient at conferences.  Learn from my past mistakes and make SXSW 2014 a productive experience for you! And if these tips help you, tweet and share them with your friend …

1. Come up with a solid pitch.

Whether you are looking to do a business deal, find customers, find investors, or find a job, take some time to craft a pitch.  A good pitch should be short and should state the benefits very quickly to the person hearing your pitch.  Ideally, you would like to have a risk reversal clause.  One of the best ones is Domino’s Pizza’s pitch:  “Pizza delivered to you in 30 minutes, or it’s free”.   In 10 words, the reader or listener clearly knows the benefit (A pizza comes to the door in 30 minutes to satisfy the hunger), and the risk reversal clause makes it even better (Or it’s free).  With that risk reversal clause, the message overcomes many potential objections.

2. Plan the sessions you would like  to attend in advance with LookSmart’s free calendar tool

As they say, “Failing to Plan is Planning to fail”. SXSW is a ginormous event where you can easily get lost. Set aside a few hours to plan whom you would like to meet, or what company you would like to talk to.  Sometimes, you attend sessions for the content. Sometimes you attend sessions because you would like to meet a certain person from a certain company.  The calendar at SXSW is not easy to do the latter.  LookSmart.com has created an easy tool to choose your SXSW event by Speaker’s Job Title and Speaker’s Company at SXSW Schedule Tool – Choose Your Event By Speaker and Company . For Google doc lovers, we also offer a  public SXSW schedule, that makes it easy for you to search by person or company, at http://www.looksmart.com/sxsw . We have one calendar tab that is sorted by Speaker’s Job Titles and another calendar sorted by the Speaker’s Company.

3. Have a 3 column spreadsheet to track your meetings

I take this idea from Steve Blank’s book “4 Steps to Epiphany”.  You like to keep track of the contacts you meet by listing the name of the people you are meeting, the things that you can offer for that person, and the things that they can offer you.   You can use whatever recordkeeping tool you are comfortable with – a pen and paper notebook, an Evernote or some spreadsheet on your laptop.


4.  Download the official SXSW 2014 mobile app

Download the official SXSW mobile app.  It will come in really handy. You can search attendees, look at the schedules, navigate, find exhibitors, maps, navigate, browse and discover the sessions.

5.  Back up batteries and chargers for your mobile phone.

You need juice for your mobile phone.  Little things like these can make big differences on your productivity during the conference.  Bring more than one charger and cable just in case you lose them during the event.

6.  Get some good rest the night before.

This needs no explanation.

7.  Follow the social networks.

Get efficient by using social networks.  Follow SXSW’s social network handles. Be ready to use the Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook mobile apps during the conference.

8.  Send emails or social network messages out in advance to people and friends you would like to meet.

Craft a nice message with your  pitch and communicate with as many fellow SXSW attendees before the event.  You can get very efficient by communicating a lot before the events.