Yes I'm Going to SXSW, But Not to Your Party.

It is that time of year again.

The month before SXSW happens in Austin, Texas when tens of thousands of people from around the globe arrive in town. The time when it seems at least half of them will start sending out invites to a drinkup, party or other gathering that they hope you and a few hundred other people will show up at.

I only have to take one look at my inbox to confirm that it is that time of year again.

I’m going to SXSW like I do every year. I love the conference, the people and the city of Austin.

While I’ve already talked about how I’m nervous at how big it has gotten, I still know that I will find new business and make new friends while in town. This happens every year and I’m sure this year will be no different.

In the past I use to RSVP for a ton of events and then never make them. You can schedule as much as you want, but the truth is that it all goes out the window when you get on the ground. You’ll end up grabbing a drink with someone and then suddenly three hours has gone away because you are having such a good time and ten more people showed up and sat down with you.

The other thing is that most of the evening gatherings are too damn big for me to enjoy. Thousands of people crammed into a small space, with loud music and a line around the block is not my definition of fun. Sorry, maybe I’m getting too old. *grin*

Besides Ewan’s Breakfast, AllHat and the Wiley Author Party, I’m not sure I’ll actually sign up for others, but you are free to invite me.

I just prefer smaller gatherings where you can actually get to know the people around you. I know last year I attended a small entrepreneur dinner put on by Starbucks and Wired that was exactly the sort of event I enjoy. The photo above was a chance encounter with the woman who drew “the fail whale” while me and some old friends caught up.

I wanted to write this so that people knew I’d be attending (and speaking at 3:30 on Friday about Visual Storytelling), but would understand why I most likely won’t show up at their party.

I really hope our paths cross while in town. I’m going to be looking to interview people for Passion Hit TV, talk to potential new clients and make a shit ton of new friends.

See you in four weeks!




  • I’ll be there too. Speaking Sunday at 12:30. Hopefully we meet ūüôā

  • Hope to see you there C.C. I’ll definitely be at AllHat if I don’t see you otherwise!

  • The parties are what probably discouraged me from wanting to go this year. I tried to pick small-ish, invite only events and it was still crazy and overwhelming.

    That combined with the fact a large majority of the talks are panels and nothing actually gets ‘learned’ – it’s just all the panelists saying who they are and how great they are.

    I still wish I had the slush fund to go this year. I would make connections *before* attending and keep my get togethers small. Relying on the conference to meet people to connect & hang with is too hard.

  • CC,¬†

    Last year your post pre-SXSW was very useful. Being that it was my first time last year I ended up signing for many things which I was not able to make it. 

    This year I have been a bit more selective and will be planning ahead of time one or two events a day. The rest I will let the day decide. 

    Will be definitely making it to your Story Telling session. 

    Thanks again for the great info. This post makes  a perfect link for the post I have in draft to publish this afternoon on one of the points I was making. 

    See you at SXSW! 

  • Christine

    Is it March yet?!? I can’t wait and I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

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  • I totally hear you about the overcrowdedness and the schedules flying out the window, but I find that I do some of my best work at those parties, so I try to go to them if I can. For me, I go to SXSW to learn, but my company also sends me in hopes of creating some new business for us. I’ve found that parties are a great place to do that because everyone’s in a good mood and you meet one person and they happily introduce you to their friend and so on. For me, I don’t go to do any hard selling there, but if I can have a nice chat even for 3-5 minutes with someone and tell them that I think my company can help them, I look at that party as a success for me.
    But you’re right, the more¬†intimate¬†settings were where I made friends with people that I still keep in touch with all the time¬†regardless¬†of business.
    Or maybe you are just getting old… ūüėČ
    Hope to meet you down there and have one of those more intimate conversations!

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  • Kevin Behringer


    I was having this exact conversation the other day. ¬†The idea of the big “wait in line for three hours to get a free beer” parties at SXSW are just so off-putting to me. I’d much rather find some like-minded people to sit somewhere quiet, with a GOOD beer (as opposed to a free one) and talk/build a relationship.

    The only problem is that those types of interactions are tough to find and not promoted. For someone like you, they’re easier to build organically simply by the nature of so many people wanting to sit and talk to you. For someone like me, not so much.

    So, I’m hoping to find some of those opportunities this year and leave SXSW having built some friendships.

    And, I’ll definitely be at the session on Friday – I based my travel plans around getting there for it!


  • Yeah, SXSW is about the people and the experiences for me. Seeing old friends, meeting new ones and experiencing a week unlike any other anywhere. The parties? Not a big deal for me. I know it’s not an age thing because the parties have never been high on my priority list. We’re all getting older but there’s a lot of old people who can’t get enough partying. And that’s fine. That’s part of many peoples’ South By experience. In terms of SXSW becoming huge, I don’t have a problem with more people and more things to do as long as the people and the experiences continue to be interesting and exciting. I have attended since 2010 and “virtually” attended thanks to Twitter and the web in the years before. 2012 is going to be fun. Hope to see you there CC.

  • JimHopkinson

    Hey CC¬† Glad to hear that my “Entrepreneur’s Dinner” last year was one of your highlights of SXSW.¬† That was the exact goal… that people (at least older guys like us) were sick of the wait in line/too crowded/too loud/beer spilling and to make stronger, better connections in a smaller group.¬† Unfortunately (no repeat of the dinner this year) I’ve moved on from Wired to do my own thing (a good thing!), so we’ll need to find another way to connect. I’ve got your speaking event on my calendar, and would love to see you at mine Saturday at 12:30.¬† Have a great conference everyone!

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