Most of the people that end up benefiting from SXSW have the keen insight to identify the right move at the right time, as opposed to letting opportunities slide by because they aren't ready to take it up to the next level.
I'm not suggesting that you need to have an agenda with everyone you meet at a conference like this. In fact, there are several types of folks down here that you do not want to meet OR be:
If the first ten seconds of engagement with person on the street, at an event, or in the bathroom goes like this:
Whattaya: “Hey, it sure is crazy down here." (Looks at your badge.) Are you here for Interactive?
You: "Yeah it’s busy and yes." (You just looked at my badge honey. What do you think?)
Whattaya: Yeah man. What do you do?
This behavior is one of the top pet peeves for anyone that considers themselves a human being, not just a job title. You just talked yourself out of true and impactful conversation because in the other person's mind, they already know what you want: a hookup, a business card, and a way to get something out of what they do.
Now here are two types of approaches that work much, much better when networking in a venue like SXSW:
The “Honest Jon or Jane”-
This is the most simple approach—simple, straightforward and to the point. As you're meeting people within the conference halls and agency parties during SXSW, you make a point to be yourself and not your cooler, smarter, more accomplished representative. Here are a few key things to remember:
-Try to be authentic.
-Be witty and master the art of lively conversation.
-Generate interests around your conversations based on the profession of the person that you are trying to connect with by asking tactful questions.
-Take the time to research what you are interested in before coming out to Austin. If you happen to run into an individual whose job title reads, “Digital Engagement Director," be sure that you understand their field. Make Google your friend.
The Connector – Not to toot my own horn, but this right here personifies my approach when it comes to networking. As folks are growing weary of talking about what they do for a living, or from hosting a zillion clients during the day—plus attending sessions at the Austin Convention Center, how do you stand out? What can you offer to them outside of your card? Do you they need phone charge from your Mophie adapter? Are you aware of who they are and what they do? Can you provide a direct connection to someone they need to know for future business? I can. Connectors understand the game players and influencers within the digital and branding industries and approach them accordingly. Give before you get. Check out the book Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk for tips on how to make yourself an asset to others who can help you build up your own.