This is a guest post from Area 224 CEO Dave Van de Walle, who failed to get hotel reservations or passes or anything related to SXSW. In response, he is guest-posting on his own site.
I have been through Austin once. The crisp air, the live music, the smell of Spam.
Austin, Texas, and I have yet to officially get acquainted.
It’s about this time every year, when South By Southwest hosts its Interactive festival, meetup, gathering and, we gather, Social Media Love-in.
I, however, am not going to be there. I’m not sulking, I’m not pouting. I am, however, busy, otherwise occupied, launching stuff, and won’t invest the time.
If you are in my boat – willingly or not – here’s a quick How-to Guide.
How to Blow Off SXSW and Still Be Cool
1. You are NOT “blowing it off.”
This is very important. You are not absent because you are too cool. You are not absent because you are not cool enough. Work on this line:
“We were going to be in Beta mode by now, but the developers and I needed to retool the product offering. It’s still in Alpha.”
NOTHING you say will be more important than the above line.
I have missed several events in the past NOT because I was blowing them off. I was “in launch mode” or “retooling the product offering” or “triple-booked.”
2. You will NOT use the phrase “Mission Critical.”
This phrase is not only passe, but it is an affront to those who attend SXSW because they consider SXSW attendance to be Mission Critical.
For some startups and marketing teams, SXSW IS Mission Critical. Therefore, your tiny team or your huge team or your offshore developers are NOT, I repeat NOT doing anything MORE or LESS important.
This does NOT contradict what is above. Retooling your product IS Mission Critical. The point here is that you can’t let Marketing get out in front of Operations.
3. Share the good stuff but DON’T pretend you’re there.
“Forwarded without comment” is your best friend. “H/T” is also nice, a “Hat Tip” to those who found the thing first.
(This means, for instance, if your last name rhymes with “Floss” (in theory), you can’t register for every event as if you are attending.)
Using words like “jealous” or “winning” to describe others’ SXSW Exploits is not cool. Also, using the word “winning” to describe anything but what is happening during “March Madness” is also verboten.
Whatever you see that catches your eye, that’s cool, that will add value to your audience: by all means, share it.
4. Plan Other Events.
Plan your own event, find others who are planning events, plan out the rest of your 2011.
It’s hard to miss the SXSW run-up, as it seems everyone and their brother has something going on there. But, alas and alack, you missed out on accident. (As opposed to our team, which is, in reality, retooling our product launch.)
Austin, I’ll miss ya. Maybe next year. Maybe not. I need to keep you guessing.