SXSWWhy should you go to SXSW?  Well I can’t answer that question, what am I, a mind reader?  But I can tell you why I go to SXSW and maybe you can find some inspiration and clarity for your own personal reasons to attend.

This was my 3rd year of attending and one of the interesting things is that I haven’t gotten a badge in the three years I have gone.  Many people I know don’t get badges and just go to the parties that they have throughout the event.

I know, I know – I’m missing out on a lot of great presentations but I know I would feel torn between attending the sessions and talking and connecting with people.  Here are the five big reasons I attend SXSW and why I plan on going again next year:

1.  Re-connect with friends at the parties

I love re-connecting to people I’ve met from previous SXSW’s and finding out what is going on in their lives.  We have the common bond of running online businesses and navigating the joys and difficulties of self-employment.

SXSW dinner

This dinner was one of my favorite times


SXSW Wiley Author Party

Wiley Author Party


2.  Meet new friends

There is nothing like meeting in person.  I love social media and love all the technology we have to connect like Skype and Google+ Hangouts, but meeting in person rocks.  Sometimes you are meeting someone you’ve just connected with briefly, or maybe you’ve tweeted with them a lot.  Either way, it’s great to meet and you never know where these connections will take you.

Dave OHoots

Got to meet Dave O Hoots of Hootsuite

I also met my friend Chuck Martin, author of the Third Screen and co-member with me at Five Star Speakers.  We’ve been doing a weekly Google+ Hangout with our other members discussing our joint-venture into promoting our speaking careers.  It was great to meet him and we did a quick interview for his MediaPost coverage.


Chuck's hair

Chuck Martin


3.  Give Grandma Mary a Chance to get out

Grandma gets bored in the office all day.  She loves to get out and meet people.  In past SXSW years, she has interviewed Guy Kawasaki, Scott Stratten, Pam Slim, Laura Roeder, and many more.  This year she was a little quieter but still had fun getting out.

She interviewed Ambassador Bruny and did a little reporting from the Copyblogger party about why she likes to attend.

Then things got a little out of hand at the Copyblogger party.  Grandma is one attractive lady and can be a little dangerous at these parties when people have been over-celebrating.  She handled it well.

4.  Participate and learn.

I could probably get more out of SXSW if I did get a badge.  But there are lots of ways to participate in the magic without one.  I enjoyed watching how startups and big brands are working to gain attention and buzz.  I participated in a high-five flash mob for Community Managers organized by Jeremiah Owyang.

High Five Flash Mob

High Five Flash Mob


I also went to a book signing for Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup.

Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau


5.  Brainstorm and Mastermind

These women are actually one of the most important reasons I go to SXSW – Amy Harrison, Jen Waak, and Pamela Wilson (notably absent, Carole Brown).  We met through an online group called the Remarkable Marketing Blueprint organized by Sonia Simone several years ago and have supported each other with the ups and downs of our businesses over the years.

Amy Harrison, Jen Waak, myself, and Pamela Wilson

Amy Harrison, Jen Waak, myself, and Pamela Wilson

We have gotten a house together at SXSW (joined my more of the Remarkables the first year) and we spend time brainstorming about our businesses and helping each other work through questions and struggles we share as solopreneurs.  It’s been amazing to watch each of our journeys and celebrate our successes together.  Priceless.

Brainstorming at SXSW

Brainstorming at SXSW