It’s the annual pilgrimage to Austin’s SXSWi (South By Southwest Interactive) for what is fast becoming a bloated expression of all that the people who are not in technology detest about the industry: postulation (in the form of panels) and self-promotion (in the form of product launches). And I say this as someone who went to SXSW last year and had an amazing experience. For many reasons, including the astronomical prices of flights/tickets/hotels, we won’t be going this year.
So what should I, and the hundreds of thousands of us staying at home, be doing while our friends are networking in Austin?
1. Pay attention to the trends coming out of Austin but do not let this distract you. User Experience Design (2010), Social Commerce (2011) etc. were the ‘hot trends’ at SXSW a few years ago before the rest of the world started to pay attention. You want to pay close attention to these macro-trends to figure out the applicability for your business. Where the trends do not fully apply to what you are doing then it’s OK, don’t force it on your business model. Just like it’s OK not to be at SXSW.
2. Sign up for the SXSW account to snoop on your competition, investors and thought leaders. I hesitate to call all the panelists and topics groundbreaking but, within the rough you will find some diamonds in the form of thought leaders. You can find these people in the long list of attendees and panelists on the SXSW website. We did this last year even before we registered to go. You can also stay on top of things by following the SXSW hashtag on Twitter or other social listening channels you are interested in. Some of the panels will be streamed (just search on the day). Most importantly though
3. Continue to hustle and build your business at home by listening to the people you’ve created the product for (they are better known as your customers). Unless the tech crowd, who are more fickle than most (just ask Highlight or Zaarly), happen to be your target customers then you won’t miss much by staying at home. Stay at home and figure out the value you provide to the market segments you’ve so clearly identified. The good thing is that your customers will probably pick your calls. Why? Because every other person trying to sell them technology is in Austin right now.
If you haven’t clearly identified your target market and the value you provide to them then you should not be in Austin anyway.
We’ll be here hustling away. And for those of you in Austin don’t come back home without trying some of the local BBQ. But most importantly don’t stop hustling either.
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