It’s still January and by my clock we’re still 42 days away from the first SXSW session and yet, I already have reminders about events and invitations. They started arriving this week.
I’m not sure what it is about the six-and-a-half week mark that makes organizations start sending out their invites, but it happened. What’s even stranger to me is that the first event is next Monday, still 38 days before the first panel opens it’s doors. Am I ready for it? No. I think maybe I’m still recovering from last year (I broke my foot on the last day of SXSW 2012).
So even though I have no idea: what the weather will be like; what panels I’ll attend; what events and parties I’ll have time to attend; which developers/startups/future and former coworkers (we’re always hiring!)/vendors I’ll want to meet; which bands and food trucks to sample, I’m getting ready. I’m not only thinking of the things I forgot last year (note to self: don’t forget band-aids you never know when you need one) and the things I need to forget this year (note to self: just apply sunscreen in the morning, you don’t need to carry it around all day).
Even though we’re still 42 days out, it is time to remind everyone where you should be at this point:
1) If you’re coming in from out of town you better have your hotel reservations lined up. No hotels available? Check sites like Homeaway.com or airbnb.com. And for heavens sake book your flights!!! You don’t want to be stuck on the 6AM flight out of LAX (which means you have to leave for the airport at 3:45am), been there done that, not fun. Worse is when you don’t plan for the ridiculously long security line for the 6am flight and you miss it, get re-routed through Atlanta and finally land in Austin 9 hours after your planned.
2) Start your schedule making now. The schedule has been (for the most part) posted! http://schedule.sxsw.com/ . Make a list and check it 42 times, have an A, B, C, and D option in order of preference and location.
3) RSVP to all the events you want to attend, even when there’s three at the same time. You never know when you’re going to end up on the opposite side of town from where you thought you were going to be, and walking half a mile (or even getting a pedicab) to the next location will take more time than you’re willing to waste. Maybe you’re at your option C panel and then get waylaid at the foursquare tent, when all you meant to do was get a free water, talking about the need to plan and sometimes not plan the timing of social media postings for clients, or yourself, and next thing you know it’s 10 minutes into the panel you were suppose to be at – but HEY! It’s ok, you also wanted to stop by and see what that new start-up is doing on the next corner down.
4) Learn about the different types of sessions. This year SXSW has reduced the number of panels and increased the number of individual or dual presenters and core conversations: http://sxsw.com/interactive/sessions/about
Yes, it’s still only January but SXSW will be here before you know it.