Every year around this time the same thing happens. Those of us gearing up to go to SXSW in Austin, Texas begin to get excited and those who are not going get cranky. (Yes, there is a third group who could care less about the conference and go about their merry way enjoying life to the fullest.)
But, this year I'm seeing more and more people questioning the relevance, worth and value of attending SXSW and I wanted to provide my answer to what value I find in attending.
This will be my fourth year attending the conference and every year I come away so happy that I was able to attend. Once again I'm speaking at the event by doing a Content Rules book reading. (I'm still not sure how a book reading happens there, but we'll find out.)
The way I describe SXSW to people who have never been is that it is as if the entire Internet came together in one place and you'll leave having made new friends and becoming closer with old ones.
Sure, there are a ton of great presentations, parties and more then enough great food and drink. But, for me the value in going to SXSW is the people you get to meet and spend time with in Austin. Looking back through my photos I've taken at SXSW you'll see most of them are of the people I meet.
Through the years as I've worked on different marketing campaigns, I've used technology from vendors I saw on the expo floor, involved influencers that I hung out with over breakfast tacos and more than once formed business relationships with people I met in the hallways of the convention center.
While I haven't conjured up a magical spreadsheet to measure the ROI of this to me, I know it in my heart and wallet that the value is there. That is why every March you'll find me in Austin, sleep deprived, inspired and counting the days until the next SXSW.
Trust me, that it is up to each of us to find value in everything we do. It is not cheap to attend and you need to make sure you get what you want out of it. Need some tips? Here is my SXSW Tips video I made last year at this time.
And to anyone that criticizes or complains and yet has never attended, you don't get a voice OK? SXSW is truly one of those things that you have to experience to fully appreciate.