If you haven’t noticed on Twitter the past few days, geeks have been having a field day in Austin, otherwise known as SXSW-Interactive. I’m often asked which social media conferences are ‘must attend’ events, and although I don’t think SXSW is right for everyone, I do think that anyone that’s active in the social media space should attend SXSWi at least once.
If you ask most attendees what makes SXSW so great, the response you will hear 99% of the time is ‘the people’. In fact, it’s a bit of a stretch to call SXSW a conference, because most attendees aren’t there for the program, the sessions. They are there for the discussions in the hallways. The talks over dinner between 10 people that up till yesterday you only knew online.
But at its heart, SXSWi works because it gives us the chance to connect and share ideas. Which is when the magic happens. So how can you draw inspiration from SXSWi even if you weren’t there? Here’s some ideas:
1 – Comment more on other blogs. And don’t just comment to leave your feedback, become a participant in active conversations. Talk to my friend Lisa Petrilli, she is doing an amazing job with this.
2 – Become an active participant in Twitter chats. @JDEbberly is actively involved in several Twitter chats, including #blogchat. I’m sure it’s greatly expanded his network because he’s constantly meeting and engaging with new people.
3 – Start a Twitter chat focusing on a topic you are passionate about. Seriously, I have no idea why more people aren’t doing this. Beth and Anna started #IMCchat because the need for integrated marketing is a topic they believe in. But it could be anything, it could be about your love of NASCAR, Civil War memorabilia, or politics in Rhode Island. Pick a topic you want to discuss and run with it. I didn’t wait for anyone to tell me that it was ‘ok’ to start #blogchat, I just did it. You don’t need permission to connect with other people that are just as passionate about a topic or idea as you are.
4 – Attend local social media events/Tweetups – And especially if it’s a Tweetup, wear a name tag with your Twitter name on it. A great icebreaker! Nothing in your area? Float the idea out to your friends about having a Tweetup or maybe even a Barcamp/Podcamp type meetup.
These are some ideas to get those connections, both online and offline, going. And if you DID attend SXSWi, how are you going to keep that level of inspiration going once you get back home?