I’m back in DC after another memorable trip to SXSW in Austin. This year I was grateful for the opportunity to highlight Netwalking during both my Netwalking Meet Up and Mentor Session. In addition to my official SXSW events, I became cultured on so much during the entire festival both personally and professionally. Here are just a few things I learned that you may be able to incorporate into your business or life.
1. It’s ok to venture outside of the conference hall. Most sessions and events are held indoors. When scheduling meetings with people, no need to keep it indoors. Change up the scenery! In Austin, (besides the first day when it rained) we were able to take advantage of the nice weather and the walkability of downtown. I found several places to have walking meetings including Town Lake and Shoal Creek Trail. Even if you feel tired from being inside a conference hall all day, you will be pleasantly surprised that going outside will spark organic conversation, energize you without caffeine and sugar and before you know it, ideas will be flowing.
2. Embrace waiting in line. At a large festival like SXSW, lines are inevitable. Sometimes you know that in order to see a certain session, there will be a line. If you anticipate a line, I highly recommend going to the bathroom ahead of time, making sure you have water to stay hydrated and perhaps have a healthy snack on hand. No one wants to stand in line, especially if you are hangry, complaining and need to use the bathroom. Rather than have this be a burdensome experience, turn it into a great opportunity to connect with new people. Strike up conversations with conversation starters. Ask people what they’re passionate about, how they got to this point in their careers and share ideas with each other.
3. Apps will make your life easier- This trip I downloaded the SXSW GO App so I always had the most updated festival schedule in hand, Instacart for grocery delivery so I could get some healthy food delivered to where I was staying, and transportation apps (CapMetro, Lyft and Uber) that made it safer to get around.
4. Circular economy- I just learned this term and agree that we need to be less wasteful when traveling, especially to conferences and festivals. You will be inundated by food, plastic and swag that you probably don’t need. Think twice before taking something and if you to grab it make sure it’s something you will use. Think before you put food on your plate, especially at places where free food is served. Someone might miss out on lunch because you got two helpings and only needed one. Read more about the circular economy here.
5. Have a plan, but be prepared for detours. It’s a great idea to schedule 2-3 things to do a day so you have set plans, but be prepared for detours to change plans. By not over scheduling yourself and being open to detours, you’re less likely to feel like you’ve missed out on something, or FOMO for short. If you’re in the middle of a great conversation, keep talking rather than thinking about how to rush to your next session.
6. Stay hydrated all day and night. Marketing Melodie wrote about this as a guest blogger in her post about staying healthy at conferences. Check it out here. When alcohol and junk food is free and readily available, you’re more likely to consume more than usual. Avoid doing this by fueling yourself with water.
7. Smile. Smile as much as you can. Research suggests that happy people are successful across all domains in life, and happy people are usually smiling. If you’re smiling, others are more likely to smile back, you’ll also look much more approachable. I was lucky enough to catch the keynote by Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace. His talk was on happiness which included 10 minutes of mediation which felt great, and certainly made me smile. P.S. I made a new friend with the person sitting next to me who happened to be travelling to DC for the weekend. I shared with him some great neighborhoods to venture out to including seeing the Monuments in the evening and he was very generous and gave me two tickets to see my first DC United soccer match in DC this past Sunday. He just so happened to work for the opposing team, Colorado Rapids. They tied 1 – 1.
8. Support your friends. When attending a large festival like SXSW, you probably have colleagues and friends also attending. Support your friends and attend their sessions. If you can’t personally attend, tell someone about it, Tweet about it and make sure they know you’re proud of them for being featured. It’s important to stay connected to your community. Don’t get lost in the bustle and forget about the people you’re close to.
9. Balance work and play. Yes, I was at SXSW for my business, but that doesn’t mean all work and no play. There were plenty of opportunities for me to enjoy myself. I tried virtual reality for the first time, attended several comedy shows, a few films, music and another year I tried Stand Up Paddle boarding. When you’re traveling, it’s a great excuse and opportunity to try something new and create fond memory.
10. ABC- Always Be Charging- Fully charge your electronics before heading out for the day. During the course of the day, you might find yourself in front of a power outlet. If you see one that’s not in use, plug in! This means to always carry your charger with you. You can also carry around a portable charger such as a Mophie.
Thanks for another great SXSW Austin. See you next year!
until we netwalk againTM,