SXSW Day 1: The Networking Game, Part I

Lessons learned at Day 1 of SXSW:

  • It’s a lot easier to talk to people than I thought. Although yesterday I was feeling quite lost, today I felt better oriented. People who I met last night I recognized again today, and their names stuck a bit better. You find a few people you recognize slightly, and then the next day you’re sort of a known quantity. Fascinating! And because this show is going to last a few more days, the opportunities to get to know people will just increase. I was even recognizing some people who I didn’t know, just because we’re all milling around in the same space. I’m noticing people who I’ve seen attend the same panels as I, so I’m thinking over the next couple of days I can strike up conversations with them to just get to know them. Could it be so easy?

  • Having a hotel downtown: yeah, definitely would make things easier. During the day it’s not bad, but if you want to go to the parties, then being downtown makes a big difference because you can party hop that much more effectively.

  • Zach the genial Scot has an interesting habit of introducing me to regular-looking folks who end up being people who I imagined being 9 or 10 feet tall. “Hey, this is Matt” Zach says, and I dutifully say, “Hi Matt, I’m Dave Seah”. And I do the badge glance and see it’s Matt Mullenweg, the founding developer of [WordPress][wp]. “Oh!” I blather lamely, “I use your software!” But later on I realized I was sitting next to him at the Kathy Sierra presentation (absolutely fantastic). Again, I expected him to be somehow much taller.

  • It’s kind of fun to go solo and just run into people and ask them stuff. I have never really been able to do it, but this is a friendly show and I’m learning by watching others.

  • Coordinating meeting with people is difficult. I got several IMs and calls during the course of the day via my shitty mobile phone, but finding people afterwards is impossible. Groups agregate after the panels let out, but since some panels go longer, and there isn’t a lot of time between sessions, people break apart and go hunting for food very quickly. Compounding the problem for me is my completely inability to recognize people. I should just read the badges, but I feel overly self-conscious about it. Tomorrow I resolve to look at EVERYONE’S badge! For example, I was able to recognize a lot of the 9rules crew because of their photos posted elsewhere, but I haven’t yet successfully found a Blue Flavor person to express my admiration for their awesome PCEO-compatible timesheets. I’m going to have to just hit one of their sessions I think and introduce myself.

  • Ow, my back. Definitely not bringing my 9pound laptop with me tomorrow. I could use a massage. I wrote most of my notes on a regular composition notebook, which is perfect for these kind of things. My hand is feeling a little cramped.