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SXSW Tips from a Festival Veteran

Ah, mid-March. Spring is in the air, Q1 is nearly over, and it’s time – once again – for the Technorati masses to make their annual pilgrimage to Austin, Texas, for SXSW!

This is my fifth year attending South By (as it’s lovingly called by the locals), and I’m here to share some of the hard-earned lessons I’ve picked up over the years:

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Make Sure You Attend the Keynotes

Although the networking and creative ideation are arguably the best parts of SXSW, make sure you attend the keynotes, if nothing else. They tend to feature the biggest, most impactful names in their respective industries, and will likely inspire you with their passion and insight.

Be Discerning with Your Swag

You’re going to pick up a lot of branded knickknacks this week, especially at the trade show. After having finally thrown out a handful of branded key chains from SXSW 2011, though, I can tell you that it’s important to really consider whether or not you really need that extra koozie  or coaster you’re being handed. In other words, only take the swag you’ll actually use – like earphones, pens, and spare phone chargers.

It’s OK to Go Offline

It’s easy to get swept up in the interactive madness, but it’s OK to disconnect from your phone every once in a while…especially when listening to the speakers. That’s the only way to ensure you’re actually being present and soaking everything in.

If It Sounds Awesome, the Wait Will Be 4+ Hours

Of course you want to see that free Snoop Dogg concert, go to the Mashable House to meet Grumpy Cat, and make your own 3D-printed Oreos! Those activities sound like a ton of fun! However, everyone else at the festival agrees with your excitement, and started lining up about two hours ago. So if you have your heart set on attending a specific, high-profile event, get there early and be ready to wait.

Bring Spare Chargers and a Cord Splitter

The ABCs of SXSW = “Always Be Charging.” Chances are, after all of the tweeting, Instagramming, and Snapchatting you’ll be doing, your battery will run out around 2pm. In order to avoid being tethered – literally – to the wall during the speakers’ keynotes, bring a few spare chargers with you to last throughout the day. As a backup, it’s a good idea to bring a cord splitter or a surge protector (worst-case scenario) so you can approach an occupied outlet with a creative way to get in on the charging-your-device action.

Rebecca Weiser, Media Director, Proove Accountable Media