SXSW: Brave Event Takeaways

Our CHIEF team just got back from a week at the 2017 SXSW Interactive festival, and there’s a lot to soak in. While it’s fresh, here are a few observations and resonant conference takeaways from SXSW to make the most of your next event:


Yes, a big part of the event is meeting new friends, potential recruits and prospective clients. Here’s a tip – this is not a typical DC (or your hometown) business schmooze. Let your hair down and be real. Making a hard pitch at the coolest happy hour you happen to be at is not the way to go (despite how unfortunately standard it may be back home). Connecting on a personal level outside of business speak is the path forward for sure. Come to think of it, maybe everyone should do this as a norm instead of a SXSW anomaly.

Be Nice

Talk to folks in line. Start a conversation on something positive. Give or get a tip on a cool place to eat or a secret brand activation you heard about. You never know who you’re talking to and what karma will come around. The woman sitting next to me on the flight to Austin went from a casual hello, to an attendee at our VIP party, to an applicant for a job with our agency. It’s not much harder than that.

Fly The Flag

You are the best brand ambassador your company has. Wear it up and show it out. A simple t-shirt with your company’s logo goes a long way toward starting a conversation and engaging with others. Oh, and when you are asked who CHIEF (or insert your company here) is, have it down. Not just the elevator pitch – start a conversation and adapt the focus to who you are meeting and what they care about. People love to talk about their favorite subject.

Measure The Results

Whether you are attending an event for business or pleasure, it’s always a good idea to take stock of how things went. Did you attend a track that inspired you to make an immediate change in your professional portfolio? Can you bring something back for your team to implement? Are any of those business cards or contacts a Willie Wonka ticket to your next big customer or staff hire? Did you get enough value from the event to justify the time and expense?

Action Implementation

Okay—back to work. You have days worth of emails to catch up on and a family life to reintegrate with. Here’s a thought to percolate on: What three things can you act on before the riptide of back-to-normal pulls you under? Call that key lead opportunity and set up that lunch. Provide a knowledge back-brief to your team. Implement the interactive ninja zen move you picked up from the top session you attended.

Make it happen. Be Brave!

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