SXSW Day 1: Gary Vaynerchuk Tells You How To ‘Crush’ SXSW

The incredible networking opportunity is a key reason thousands of digital creatives flock to Austin for SXSW every year. There’s a certain rhyme and rhythm to making the most out of your ‘fest experience—and if you don’t have a clear strategy for success, you risk losing out on life-changing connections.

On Friday afternoon, angel investor and brand strategist Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion kicked off day one of the Interactive festival with a blueprint on how to navigate the madness of sensory overload that is SXSW. It’s not easy to get noticed in such a noisy world—but it’s possible.

Here’s a brief roundup of Vaynerchuk’s actionable advice on how to stand out from the crowd.

“My complete Northern Star is to have as many people come to my funeral as possible.”

At its core, SXSW is prime for meeting people, but it’s not enough to have networking apps on your phone. Skip some of the workshops and head straight to the meet-ups, where you could build a serendipitous connection. And if you know how you want to grow professionally, spend as much time around ambitious people who are en route to achieving your goals.

“The best way to build a business when you don’t have a business or a user base is to become a user.”

If you’re an entrepreneur, get involved in a related community, whether it’s through social media, online forums or in person at mixers. When you do this, you try to become a user and set yourself up for understanding the brand, the market and the demand better.

“If you don’t use a product, how are you supposed to judge it?”

SXSW is a haven for startups showcasing prototypes of new products or tools. If you’re an entrepreneur, take advantage of the accessibility and demo the products that could be acquired for billions of dollars by this time next year.

“Think about what issue current technologies can solve that has been considered a non-solvable issue because it failed five or 10 years ago.”

When mobile phones first came out, mobile apps like Uber couldn’t have worked because technology didn’t scale. But every business that failed based on scalability is going to succeed once the infrastructure meets the mission. Don’t discount failed technologies before you analyze how the changing tech landscape could enable them.

“Audit your life, yourself, your business, the marketplace and the opportunities.”

Thousands of people are vying for a seat at the keynote addresses, and if you’re not first in line, chances are you may not get in the door. Don’t worry if your SXSW schedule is disrupted. Stay charged, stay connected and adjust your attitude and your tactics as your circumstances change. Adapt yourself and your goals as you navigate through the weekend.

Here’s a full lineup of Rackspace-related activities planned for SXSW. And keep up with Rackspace specialists on Twitter throughout SXSW with the hashtag #SXRackspace.

Leezia Dhalla was the Speakers Bureau Program Manager at Rackspace until 2015, where she was responsible for coordinating external speaking engagements and developing corporate messaging for senior leadership, software developers and key subject matter experts. graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science.


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