SXSWi - Go BIG or Go Home

March 20, 2009   

Homies(via Lan Bui)

This was my second year at SXSW interactive, and it was just as valuable as the first year. I will definitely go back.

However, while some have written about the value of going already, there have also been some unanswered knocks on the conference, like this panting rant by Gawker subdomain editor Owen Thomas.

You see, there’s a very simple formula for determining the value of SXSW: Did you personally get value out of it? Yes? Go BIG! No? Go home!

On one end of the spectrum, the value may be a week-long “pointless party.” Hey! Some folks deserve vacation every once and a while. (I still don’t understand the Cyprus vacation was scandal, even as I was toiling in Ohio getting votes for President Obama.)

However, for most, the value lies somewhere in between the content found in the conference’s sessions (did Owen’s scouts attend any?) to moving “business contacts” – formerly mere names CCed in emails or LinkedIn folders – into the “real-life, drinking buddy” category on Facebook.

As anyone involved in business will tell you, getting to know the right people in the right business can be make or break for your and their companies’ success; and – even in the Age of Twitter – getting to know people means stepping out of the board room, and into the beer garden.

And this is why SXSW is wonderful for those who seek it: everyone comes. SXSW is the most effective and efficient networking buffet around.

Unfortunately for Owen and his gang, I didn’t have any business I needed to do with the Gawker subdomain crowd this year. Perhaps no one else did either.

However, the time I spent with others was well worth every dollar and hour spent there. While I was glad to get back to New York after a week in Austin, the rate at which I met people and created social and business equity far surpassed anything I could have done from my desk overlooking the Shake Shack.

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