I Will Be Attending @SXSW Interactive

Big news! I’m heading to SXSWi next Friday and yes, I can barely contain my excitement. I will be there from the 11th-15th learning some new practices, introduced to new start-ups, engaging with technology, and hopefully meeting some amazing people. This will be my first time going to SXSW and my first time visiting Austin, TX.

I will be traveling with some coworkers from Critical Mass and we’re going to paint the town, intellectually speaking of course. Some of the sessions that I’m going to be focusing on are “Branding/Marketing” and “Social Graph.” It fits, right? I mean, I work in social media with a secondary passion in branding. (It’s going to be awesome!)

This event requires a lot of prep work. For starters, the schedule of sessions and events is large and full of, what sounds like, amazing content and lecturers. As I complied my schedule for the 5 days that will be down there, I came to realize that there is no possible way I can attend all the sessions. I had to be selective with the sessions I wanted, weigh the pros and cons, realize I can’t be in two places at once, so I had to choose the best session of the time. And it’s because of that, I believe this will be an extraordinary experience.

Another aspect of prep work that is requiring a lot of diligence is the travel. Yes, my flight and hotel are all taken care of, but when it comes to traveling in the Austin area, that may prove to be a bit more difficult. I found a shuttle service that runs from my hotel to the convention center. I think that might be the winner there. If that falls through, there are always cabs, right?

A while ago, I wrote a blog post about how I love working with and being around smart people. Here we go again and I can’t be more psyched! Not only am I heading down with some of the most talented and intelligent coworkers I’ve had the pleasure to work with, but we’re all going down to meet and learn from some of the most engaging and intelligent people from the nation and around the world.

So, what do I hope to take away from SXSWi? Well, I hope to learn more about social media and branding so I can bring that back that knowledge back to the team here in Chicago. I also hope to make industry connections, share my experiences, learn from others’ experiences, and overload my brain with knowledge and insights. The way I look at it, the more I learn and the more people I meet at SXSWi, the more I can offer my clients and Critical Mass. Professional development is something I don’t take lightly and it’s an ongoing process.

And then, there is the “fun” part of SXSW; the parties. I think I have triple booked myself for all of the evening parties. I don’t think that’s going to be a big deal. After all, my first priority is to learn down there and my last one is to rage it up all night. I’m thinking that I’m going to take the parties as they come and call an “audible” on the ground as they are not high priority in my book. However, I really want to attend the Mashable House — I heard that’s a killer party.

I depart for Austin on Friday and as I said before, I’ll be there until the following Wednesday. You can follow my travels and learnings by reading my tweets: @ebreakdown, following this hashtag: #cmsxsw, or by reading the blog: ebreakdown. Honestly, I probably will be tweeting more than blogging down there just because of time constraints. If you have any suggestions for enhancing my SXSW experience, I’m welcome to them! Also, if you are going to be down there and want to meet up, shoot me a tweet — we’ll make it happen.

Recap: Thank You Chicago!

Well, with much ado, I traveled to Chicago on Wednesday and stayed to Thursday. (Thank you to Laurie for putting me up for the night.) My travels to Chicago are fairly frequent, so it’s not an uncommon thing for me to go there. But, meeting people from the Twitterverse is fairly uncommon of me.

I had the pleasure to meet with my friend @fromdy3to60618 also I had the chance to meet @applegirl and @veronicaludwig. Both are very welcoming people full of knowledge and excellent conversation.

It was great to see my long time friend @fromdy3to60618 during his lunch. It has been a while since I’ve seen him and we had a lot to catch up on. I know our conversation was short, but I’m sure I will be down there once again to hang out with him more.

@applegirl is the voice behind @edelmandigital, a large digital services agency in Chicago. Come to find out that she loves to meet people IRL (In Real Life) from the online community, which is pretty excellent of her. That, in my opinion is exactly what social media is all about, social conversation not just in the virtual world, but extending that into the physical one. We had a brilliant conversation regarding social media, where I want to be in a few years, Chicago, life at @edelmandigital, iPhones and iPads. I would like to personally thank her for taking time out of her lunch to visit with a neighbor to the North.

@veronicaludwig is an independent recruiter. Now, this woman is full of life and hilarity. We have been meaning to meet up in person for a long while now. She is just as selfless as @applegirl in extending her hand out to new people, especially those who love Chicago. Over coffee in Millennium Park, we spoke about my ambitions for the Chicago market, what I specifically do, where her career is heading along with some fun conversations about media and networking.

After these sessions, I met up with my friend Laurie to get prepared to head to the @Razorfish recruitment party. In all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect out of this. I knew there would be many people attending, but I had no idea there would be a line of 75+ people out the door waiting to get in. That really illustrates how many people are out of work. From there, we left, got dinner and decided to head back and chat up over some wine.

All in all, it was a fairly exhausting trip, exhausting in a good way. I met some very cool and welcoming people from Chicago. @applegirl and @veronicaludwig catalyzed my belief that Chicago is a very open and nurturing city. I can’t wait for the next time I head down there. Hopefully I get to see them again and meet others. (And possibly, get a job.)