Between the innovative sessions and general buzz across Austin, it’s easy to feel inspired during SXSW. But how can we build on that energy weeks – and even months – after South-By (as the locals call it) is a distant memory? I caught up with Jocelyn Lai, talent acquisition manager for GSD&M and SXSWi attendee, to see how she plans to ride the post-SXSW wave.
Christina Meisner: In what ways are you networking with and staying connected to the people you met during SXSW? Why is this important?
Jocelyn Lai: The great thing about SXSW is that you have people with similar interests, from all over the world, congregating in one place. So you are guaranteed great conversation, no matter who you talk to.
The way I see it, SXSW offers two networking opportunities: 1) via Twitter, and 2) in-person.
- Via Twitter
During the sessions, networking is best done via Twitter. This is because everyone’s goal at the session is to record and report on the speakers’ content, rather than talk to the person sitting next to them. As a result, everyone is on their electronic device, unapproachable. And because everyone is on their device, that is where the networking lies. It never fails – I was able to join in on conversations with interesting people about the specific session. And 99% of the time, everyone in the conversation follows each other back.
This happens at parties and standing in line for food. This is when everyone is taking a break from focusing on the sessions, and they just want to have a good time. Attending the parties and free events is just as important for networking as it is attending the sessions. But the key is to not be “network-y” at the social functions. Instead, just be yourself and have a good time – the last thing people want is to turn a hopping party into a business networking event.
CM: As a recruiter, what tips do you have for job hunters who are hoping to follow up with their SX contacts and land an interview?
JL: A successful follow-up is always contingent upon a good set-up. A good set-up consists of creating a lasting impression – and during SXSW, this is usually a combination of intelligent conversation, fun random talk, and things to do in Austin. Once those are in place, and a positive connection is made, the rest usually easily follows suit.
However, specifically for post-SXSW, I would say connecting via Twitter or LinkedIn is effective if you haven’t already done so. Be sure to include a small detail on where you met the individual (we all meet hundreds of people). If you are actively seeking a job, relevance is key. Before sending in your resume to your SX contact, look on their site to see if they are hiring for a role you are interested in. If so, then allude to that role with tact. Most of the time, the roles posted are all the roles the organization is looking to fill. Otherwise, a simple note via LinkedIn of “Great meeting you in line at the taco stand. Love your agency and looking forward to working there in the near future” will suffice. Then follow them on Twitter. Keep it short and simple.
CM: How are you taking the creative ideas you learned during the conference and applying them to your career?
JL: Highlight is an app that was released during SXSW, and I’m currently playing around with it for recruiting purposes. I have yet to contact individuals who pop up for me, as there is still the creepy/stalker factor that I am trying to tackle. But it certainly has a lot of utility for recruiters.
CM: Some of us were stuck in the office during SXSW. How did SXSurrogates help non-attendees stay informed? Is this a solid resource post-event, too?
JL: Yes! SXSurrogates ultimately allow those who are not at the festival to attend virtually. Our 54 SXSurrogates were very active around town, serving as ambassadors for SXSW, GSD&M and Austin – we blogged, tweeted, and connected individuals and groups. Several of us also live-tweeted sessions so that those who were following us were able to get an almost minute-by-minute recap of the events.
The great thing about our program this year was the personalization factor. We allowed our followers to choose their surrogates based on common interests. So, if someone was only interested in gaming, content strategy, emerging tech they could follow me – and only get that content.
In addition, we created the SXSurvival Guide, which served as the ultimate Austin guide for out-of-towners. Both of these are solid resources post-event in that the SXSurrogates site still holds all the SXSW content, so we can always turn back to it when looking for new ideas/conversations to start with our clients. The SXSurvival Guide is highly curated, yet social (as it utilizes Pinterest) and I would not be surprised if it went viral for any Austin visitors. And, we’re okay with that because we love Austin and are always looking to show it more love.
CM: What other sites have great recaps on trends that emerged during SXSW?
JL: I don’t feel like there was one big trend or concept that emerged from SXSW this year. It was mostly a few apps or services that caught the eye of attendees (Highlight being one of them). However, SXSW is going to have a gaming portion next year.
Ogilvy created OgilvyNotes, which was a visual note-taking of the SXSW sessions – those are great for those who prefer visual recaps. (See the photo above for examples.)
CM: Anything else you’d like to add about how to keep the SXSW spirit alive?
JL: Right now is the time to take advantage of recruiting people down to Austin, since the SXSW hype is still fresh on peoples’ minds. But, overall, just maintain relationships and good conversations with people, and start thinking about SXSW 2013!
Thanks for the great tips, Jocelyn! Readers, what are you doing to keep the SXSW spirit alive?