Ive never been to SXSW. Ive never been to a big “social media” type conference. Most of my life for the previous 5-6 years was spent in the online advertising/marketing space (specifically search engine marketing).

Over the past several months everyone has told me that I had to go to SXSW.  So, being the wily guy I am, I figured out how to get a pass, a room and a flight, and headed down to Austin.

I really was unsure of what to expect. Knowing my friends Danny Newman, Tara Anderson and Andrew Hyde (also the socialthing guys, the Villij guys and other Colorado and San Francisco friends) would be here so I could learn from some veterans.

Initially, the conference went as conferences go. Sessions and parties. Parties and sessions. And the hallways. Love the hallways. In all the conferences that I have ever attended, the hallways are always the best places to hang out.

On Saturday, I made a pilgrimage to the BlogHaus. Met all kinds of great bloggers, took a ton of photos, and even tried to blog a bit. I felt like a real blogger given that I now several partially written posts, which hopefully will go up soon.

A few less sessions, a few more parties, and Sunday rolled around. I decided that on Sunday, I would follow Andrew Hyde around the show. For those that know, I dont often provide positive feedback about members of the douche bag army, but Andrew was a sight to see.

If you want to know how to do SXSW, follow @andrewhyde.

Andrew does two things phenomenally well:

  1. He gets lucky. See his elevator ride with Guy Kawasaki?
  2. He takes advantage of that luck. See his elevator ride with Guy Kawasaki?

And, thats really not that easy. Andrew was focused and worked his ass off to get as many people talking about VCWear. VCWear was everywhere. So many panelists wore a shirt, and I even saw him give one to Timothy Ferris. Even Kathy Sierra (yes, that Kathy Sierra) and Gary V (yes, that Gary V) rocked the VCWear.

The other thing Andrew does wonderfully is he knows what he knows and knows what he doesnt know. Then, if the conversation is in his wheel house, he participates; if its not, he doesnt.

Dont miss that point. So many people just want to be part of the conversation, they just participate. Andrew truly interacts.

The final thing that I saw him do is talk to anyone and everyone, whether he knew them or not. He would see someone in the hallway that he found interesting, and ask them for a couple minutes of their time. No one said no.

So, when you come to SXSW, and want to know how to do the conference side follow @andrewhyde:

  1. Get lucky – you cant get lucky hanging out in your hotel room or attending nothing but sessions;
  2. Take advantage of that luck – Make the connection, follow up (I saw Andrew sending emails to everyone he met the night before in between sessions.)
  3. Know what you know; and know what you dont know. If you know about a subject, and it adds to the conversation, add. If you dont know, find a session about it, and learn.
  4. Finally, be unafraid of engaging anyone in conversation. And I mean anyone. Been a huge fan of someone writing or work? Dont be afraid to tell them. There is nothing more flattering than to be told that people like the work you do (or in my case, being called a douche bag or HamSwords).
  5. Dont over do it. Party like you are a rockstar. A rockstar blogger, or interactive designer, or developer. SXSW Music is a few days after Interactive. Let those rockstars be stereotypes.

And thats it. I did some of this better as the conference went on. Just prior to leaving for the airport, I had the pleasure (and luck) to meet Christina Warren (@film_girl) someone I have been so impressed with given her twitter advice to me around adderal and ADD mediciation. (If I had only known about her Jew-fetish before meeting her. Damn! But we did share a HamSwords tattoo for a fil tattoo…sexy!)

Turns out she blogs for Weblogs Inc and the Download Squad. So, making the opportunity, I told her about Lijit. Now I have made both a friend and someone I potentially can work with.

Whats better defines SXSW than that?