As long-time readers may remember, I ventured to my first SXSW Interactive conference two years ago. (For full details of the adventure, click on SXSW in the Labels menu to the right.) As I am preparing for my second time around, just six short weeks away, I was thinking of a couple of things that I had learned. I thought I’d summarize them here in case anyone out there was going for the first time and needed some advice:

  1. As I started putting together my schedule, I chuckled when I remember adding the daily yoga sessions offered to my schedule. I remember thinking how nice it would be to do that everyday. The reality was that I did enough walking to get my exercise for the week and never made it to a single yoga session.
  2. Speaking of walking, I had heard in advance to bring really comfortable shoes. This is not a lie. I thought I had brought good shoes the first time and I was sadly mistaken. You will be standing, walking and dancing all day – invest in something awesome or you’ll regret it.
I bought these super comfy flats with Nike Air technology to keep me comfy and stylish this year.
    3. Bring your chargers with you during the day. The places to plug in and juice up are endless, as is your constant usage of your phone to look things up, direct yourself to the next venue, check in and tweet, which will eventually wear your battery down.
4. That said, leave as much crap as you can do without in your hotel room. You will likely shift from panels to parties and who wants to be that guy/girl wearing a backpack while dancing. Enough said.
5. It has often been said that one can attend SXSW without ever buying a ticket. Taking in the chance meetings of like-minded people just hanging out in a bar nearby the convention center, soaking up the atmosphere of the week, can be of huge value if you want to save some dough.
6. I really like my sleep but this experience was worth having well outside of my normal sleeping hours. The organizers are smart and kind enough to schedule little prior to 11am.
7. Run, don’t walk to the keynote sessions. They fill up fast and then lead to the dreaded overflow room where are are stuck with a less-than-awesome experience (you can watch things on a t.v. at home).
8. Buy the shuttle pass if your hotel is on the route. It’s cheap and runs pretty much all the time. They are fairly efficient and you don’t have to wait long. A great buy.
In all, it’s a great time. If you have any tips to share newbies, feel free to add them below. See you there!

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