In early March, tens of thousands of the most influential players in technology, music, and film will head down to Austin, Texas to attend the iconic SXSW 2018 festival. While each attendee might have a different background, many will have the same overall goal– utilizing networking to make meaningful connections and build their businesses. In fact, at last year’s event, 67% of the participants said their main reason for attending was to find new business opportunities. Networking through all of the noise at SXSW 2018 will be a challenge, but when properly prepared and effectively executed, it can prove to be invaluable. With SXSW 2018 right around the corner, here are some networking tips to ensure you are making the biggest splash possible.

Networking To-Dos Before SXSW 2018:

Before boarding the plane to Austin, there are a few things you should prepare to give you a leg up on the competition. Proper preparation and research will help you enter the festival organized, focused, and ready to make an impact. Let’s get started:

  • Set Your Goals- The first thing you want to do is sit down and think about what you want to gain from going to SXSW 2018. Is it 15 professional contacts? A job interview? A potential collaboration with another creator? Setting clear, measurable, and attainable goals will help you stay focused and use your time wisely while at the event.
  • Do Your Research- In 2017, the 10-day event drew 421,900 participants from 95 countries. With so many people attending, showing up without a game plan is setting yourself up for failure. You will want to do as much research as you can on who will be attending the event– take notes on anyone you find interesting, learn about what they do, and find out where they will be during the event. Your chances of meeting and building relationships with the right people will increase if you go in already knowing everything you need to know about them. The SXSW website is a great place to start since it provides information on who will be guest speakers and the different artist/bands that will be performing.
  • Establish your value- Networking should always be mutually beneficial to both parties. Figure out what it is that makes you valuable to your potential connections. For example, if you’re a music producer showcase your beats to the artists you could potentially collaborate with. You want to make a great first impression to ensure you build a long-lasting relationship so make sure whatever you offer is your best work!
  • Reach out beforehand- After you’ve done your research make a list of the top people you want to network with. You want to reach out to them beforehand in an email and let them know you’re looking forward to connecting with them. Make your email as personal as possible. Talk about recent projects they’ve been a part of, or if they’re a musician, any recent songs/videos they may have released. LinkedIn is a great tool to use to find their contact information or to reach out directly to them right on the platform.

Networking To-Dos During SXSW 2018:

It’s finally here! You spent the last few weeks preparing and now you’re headed to SXSW 2018. It’s time to put your research and game plan into action:

  • Use your time wisely- SXSW 2018 will be a huge event so it’ll be easy to get distracted in the midst of things. Remember, this is a business trip for you so treat it as such. Enjoy yourself but stay as focused as possible. Before you head over to the convention center, make an outline for each day with a goal you would like to accomplish to help you stay on track. Be sure to follow up and go to the panel/booth of anyone you reached out to beforehand as well.
  • Confidence is key- One of the keys to networking in the music industry and networking in general is confidence. When you exude confidence, people are more likely to trust you and listen to what you have to say. You’ve already set your goals, done your research, and determined what you can bring to the table, so enter every conversation with the mindset that you are well prepared and ready to crush it! If you still feel nervous, practice how you’re going to introduce yourself in front of the mirror or with a friend before you hit the event.
  • Don’t dismiss anyone- Every personal encounter is a potential opportunity for networking, so don’t overlook anyone. You never know where someone will be with their career five years down the road, so you want to treat everyone with kindness and respect. Listen to what they have to say and always make sure to take their business card afterward.
  • Take control of the conversation- Everyone loves to talk about themselves and what they do so use that to your advantage. You want to ask a lot of questions and make them feel important throughout the conversation. Calling them by their first name and remembering it after the conversation are sure-fire ways to impress.
  • Take Notes- It’s impossible to remember every point of every conversation you’ll have throughout the day. Carry a notebook with you and after each conversation you have take down a few key notes that you can look back on.

SXSW 2018 Networking To-Dos Post Event:

It’s been an exciting time at SXSW 2018, but unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Hopefully, you’re headed home with a stack full of businesses card and a phone full of contacts. Here’s where the real networking happens:

  • Follow up with everyone- When you get home you will want to reach out to everyone you’ve connected with. Send them an email letting them know how much you enjoyed their conversation/performance. Include anything you wrote down in your notes that lets them know you were paying attention and can add a personal touch. If the connection is of value, regularly following up throughout the year is a good way to make sure you stay top-of-mind.
  • Connect on social media- You will also want to connect with them on their socials such as Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This is an easy and less formal way to stay up-to-date and maintain contact with to continue building a relationship with them.
  • Assess your performance- When all is said and done, you will want to look back at your performance at SXSW 2018 to see if you’ve reached the goals you set. Make sure you stay objective when looking at your performance. Think about what you did well and what you could improve on for your next networking event.

It’s never too early to start preparing for SXSW 2018. Once you use these tips to polish your networking skills, make sure you stop by the Vydia SXSW booth to show us what you got! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with where will be during the event.