In reverse order…
7. You don’t need to follow up with a quiz:
There’s this hope you can send employees to SXSW and they’ll come back with incredible insights and a slew of genius prospects for employment – instead of a hangover and social disease. Lines are long, crowds are dizzying, and staying up all night partying dulls your wits. You need everyone you’re sending to have specific goals for what sessions they want to attend; what people they’re hoping to meet; and what you want them to be able to do going forward because of their time at SXSW. And make sure they report back afterward.
6. There will be a visitor from the future at your chosen session track:
That would be cool, wouldn’t it? There won’t be. Chances are whatever business you’re in, if you only go to sessions that pertain to that industry, you won’t learn much that’s new, because presumably you have an internet connection and are already staying on top of that stuff. Instead, send employees to sessions that are NOT in your chosen area. Like sessions about space, science, internet security, art, bitcoin. The real idea behind SXSW is to take ideas from many different disciplines and weave them together into something truly innovative.
5. Employee poaching is cool during SXSW:
So long as you’re planning to have your company leave town on the next coach, you’re okay. But in many ways Austin is a small town and it takes about a minute and a half for people to find out what you did and wreck your reputation.
4. Schwag is good employee bait:
No. Wrong. Schwag is schwag. If people are thirsty, they’ll take your water. If they like chocolate, you’ll get more people than the booth with the peppermints. People take your t-shirt because it’s free. Figure out what you’re looking for – like employees who want an innovative company with great benefits – and make sure that the employees at your party or booth make your pitch visible, have it down verbally and connect with the prospects they’re looking for.
3. You can wing it:
SXSW is ADD on steroids. There’s too much happening and too many people to just wade in and find the ones you want. You need a plan. Who are you looking to meet? What Meetups are available and which ones are likely to draw your desired candidates? How long have you invested into the SXSW social app to search for, and schedule a meeting with, the people you’re hoping to hire? Are you scheduling meetings during key sessions that people will want to attend?
2. SXSW is dead:
Every year SXSW gets more crowded and every year, in an effort to reduce crowds, it gets more expensive. So yes, it draws fewer impoverished creatives and tech people who are brilliant minds just waiting to be discovered. But it’s still an amazing place to meet people who know people. Even if you don’t find your rockstar employee at the session on bitcoin, you’ll expand your network which expands your chances of meeting good people.
1. Beer goggles work at SXSW:
No they don’t. Beer goggles on a perspective employee are just the same as on a perspective romantic partner. You may hire them one day and be looking for the exits the next, only with an employee you’ll have a lot of legal issues blocking your escape.