The Wonder Days: My First Time at #SXSW!

This may have been one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended—and I’ve been to a few of them.  But at #SXSW, the amount of stuff to do could fill a month, not just five short days.  Generally I’m a very organized person, and I started off the trip prepared—I had all the sessions that I wanted to attend bookmarked to go to, but then something amazing happened…I was distracted by all the cool companies exhibiting in fantastic booths that I couldn’t help but stop and check out.  And, of course, I also wanted to chat with new and old friends at the conference, as well as the representatives on the exhibit floor.

The organizers were creative, with plenty of photo opps for attendees to share with their social-media audience.  I like this Vine aggregation of #SXSW—an interesting way to quickly experience from afar:

The next time I go, I’ll make sure I’m there early—the best events fill up so quickly and I don’t want to miss them.  For the more popular sessions, I feel that it could have worked better if the space was larger and could accommodate more people.   Perhaps fewer mini sessions and more quality sessions in larger capacity venues would be an excellent way to improve on what’s already a great show.

I loved the food there for so many reasons—not least for its freshness and unique presentation, and combination of tastes!  Not only were the flavors of Austin, Texas well represented with its south-of-the-border influence, but there were so many creative contributions, from deliciously refreshing cocktails, perfect coffees, mouth-watering cheeses and of course we can’t fail to mention the delectable desserts and sweets.

I love that in all the randomness and chaos of #SXSW, the event’s celebration of social media was a key ingredient to bringing each of us together.  @LViolette tweeted out that she was going to #SXSW, and a close college friend tweeted her back and invited us to meet for breakfast.  Debra Haas from Austin, TX was our culinary lifeline.  I LOVED all her suggestions—thank YOU, Debra!
The next time you are in Austin, check out her recommendations, including the 24 Diner, the Moonshine restaurant and the Magnolia Café! I promise that you will not be disappointed.

Photo with @SandiMcKenna and @RickGriffin
I’ve been following Sandra McKenna and Rick Griffin for years on Twitter and they were able to meet with me for breakfast before flying back home. That was a treat! 

Photo with Andrea Cook and @KerryGorgone
I met Kerry Gorgone for the first time, and will see her again this coming Friday at my tweet-up where she will be speaking about social media law.  Overall, I met so many nice folks at the different parties and events; sadly, too many to mention them all by name.
The use of social media at conferences always makes the experience richer.  I truly wished that I had more time in the day to meet up with more of my social media friends.  Even though each day was a twelve-hour day (or more!), it was still not enough time to meet up with more friends and do all the fun things I wanted to do!  Next time, I’ll know what to expect and be more strategic in attending certain events.  But I’m glad that my first time at #SXSW, I allowed myself to be in awe of how cool it is, to go where the mood struck me and experience new things. 
 If you missed #SXSW this year, you can watch All The #SXSW Interactive Keynotes and Featured Sessions on Demand.
 Here’s a photo montage of some friends old and new who shared my experience in Austin:

Photo with @ShanaGlenzer

Photo with @LViolette

Photo with @stevegarfield @KerryGorgone @rawn

Photo featuring @superben @shashib

Jazz Hands

Photography by Ann Tran

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