South by Southwest provides an amazing opportunity to rub elbows with influencers and get a first look at what’s on the horizon in social media. Whether you’re there to attend conference sessions and make invaluable connections, or build more buzz about your brand, here are a few things you should be doing (based on my experience) to help you make the most of the opportunity.
1. Image really is everything. So make sure your online image and your offline image are consistent. If you’ve positioned your brand as innovative, creative and high energy online, then make sure that’s what you’re able to convey on the tradeshow floor.
2. Make better use of your time by pre-networking. Don’t wait until you arrive in Austin to make introductions. Use social media to identify attendees that you want to connect with. Then introduce yourself and solidify some face time.
3. Get your swag on. Skip the business cards and make a lasting impression with branded promotional items that will prove to be useful to the recipients (and will be less likely to be lost or tossed into the trash bin.)
4. Even if you’re onsite, don’t forget to followthe hashtags. You’ll gain as much insight from online conversations as you will from the tradeshow floor.
5. Monitor your brand closely. See how much impact your presence is making. Online sentiment can provide much needed guidance and insight on how to put your best foot forward and make your trip really pay off.
6. Engage your online audience. Lots of people will be following #SXSW who aren’t able to attend. Finding ways to involve them and give them a piece of the action can go a long way to generate leads and build relationships. For example, will you be giving away prizes on the tradeshow floor? If so, create opportunities for those not in attendance to win big too!
7. Be strategic about following up. You’ve met tons of amazing people. Have a plan in place for touching base with them soon after the event. And don’t forget to make it worth their while.