I feel like I’m a little late in the game to be doing the obligatory post-SX-wrapup blog post, but I’m going to do it anyways. And hopefully I can share some insight for those of you who might go to SXSW 2010. Especially the really young people, since I was easily one of the youngest there.
To answer the obvious first question: yes, it really was amazing. A lot of people will tell you: it’s about the people and connections, not about panels. This is generally true. However, panels are great too. And some of the best connections I made at SXSW were by going to panels and staying behind after they were over to talk to the panelists and get to know them more.
Was it weird hanging out with people you only knew online before: not at all, though I’m sure my friends are waiting with their “cyberfriends” cracks. But I think they’re missing out on a huge opportunity by NOT networking online. And finally getting to meet some of these people I’d been working with online for so long was really awesome. Sydney is so much fun. Elysa really loves her iPhone a lot :) Ryan Paugh is just as really, really sweet as Penelope describes him, and we have a shared affinity for taking shots. Holly and Margie are tiny but make up for it with a whole lot of energy. Oh, and Penelope really is a tornado. In a good way though! I think. She also gave me dating advice: “Nisha, there’s a ton of single tech entrepreneurs with no social skills at this party and hardly any girls. Come on! You’re not leveraging your girlness enough!” Thanks, P.
I could go on forever about all the things I liked about SXSW, and the fantastic people I met and the great opportunities I got out of it (I’m attending 2 conferences I’m really excited about in the next two months because of people I met at SX!) but I can’t possibly get into all of it.
One thing I will say is that I went to SXSW because of Brazen Careerist. Those of you who have been around this blog since the beginning –which, okay, is not really that long ago — will know I wrote this crazy post on how blogging impacted my life in December for the Brazen blog contest, and by some miracle I actually won, and got to attend SXSW Interactive as a result. To be honest, I had no idea what SXSW even WAS before that contest but I entered because Ryan Paugh would not stop talking about this contest for two weeks straight so I figured, why not. I really just was hoping my post would be good enough to get on the front page of Brazen, since I didn’t know much about SXSW.
I wrote that post three months ago and my theme was about empowerment, and how blogging empowered me to quit being a “lurker” – both online and in my personal life. It was about how I started becoming an active participant in running my own life instead of letting my decisions be dictated by others. And it was all about how empowering and exciting that was to me.
Three months later I’m home from SXSW and I can’t believe what an amazing experience this conference was — and most importantly, it was empowering. It was so exciting to spend five days in the company of some of the most brilliant, creative, innovative minds in the field of new media and technology. Like Sydney said: this conference is for the innovators and early adopters — and it was amazing to be around like-minded people who shared the same interests I did. I know I’m not the only one who can honestly say I’m having SXSW withdrawal.
Because of SXSW and some of the people I’ve met there, I’ve found even more cool new opportunities in the next few months that I’m really excited about and I feel really empowered by all of it. I feel like SXSW was just the beginning of what is going to be a really exciting ride. But that definitely would never have happened if I hadn’t put myself out there, started a blog, joined Brazen, written that post at 4 am, and entered that contest that I didn’t even think I should have been entering in the first place.
So to sum up, I think the lesson I’ve learned from this whole experience is: don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Sometimes it sucks, I know. But you never know what kind of awesome opportunities could come out of it. So take a risk and do whatever it is you’re worried about…. you might be really pleasantly surprised.
(And next time Brazen has a contest: you better enter!)