I’m at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. It’s been called “spring break for geeks,” which is definitely the vibe. To the plus, lots of people are making lots of relationships and connections. I think the networking is unsurpassed. Startups are a big deal here, and I think people are going to see some good things coming out in the tech scene (though I didn’t really hear of anything especially giant or buzzy). People have been so very nice at this event. I’m so happy to meet people that I’ve only seen from online. That’s a wonderful thing. I’m glad you met me.
But I want to talk about more. I want to do more.
The guy in that photo is Mark Horvath from Invisible People. He caters to the homeless. Directly. He and Liz Strauss walked around giving pizza to homeless guys while they were here. They talked to the homeless, made them feel seen.
As well as meeting me, I want you to find Mark and say hi. I want you to make HIM feel the way you make me feel. He’s doing good work.
This is Melissa Leon and AJ Leon from TheLACProject, a human business company. They are doing AMAZING things. Find them in the hallway and talk about Africa and social good.
On another note, Thom Singer. He just wrote about a giving moment that happened at a party at SXSW. Man, I wish I went to that party.
What We Could Do: Networking
We need better networking tools. We need to build a “I’m ____, and I’m into _____ , and I’d love to talk about _____ , and I’d love to meet people into ______ , or just ______ . I like _____ food. If I were to support a cause, it’d be _____ , but I’m open to ____ , too” kind of tool.
We need to give new people the warmest welcome with some kind of “I’m new here” badge.
Can you see it?
What We Could Do: Panels and Speeches
We need to give the new people more to talk about. We need to give them more fundamentals. We need to strip out some of the entertainment value and get back to sharing our big ideas, our golden thoughts. (Me included. I think the panel that Julien and I gave was fun, but not as informative as we could’ve made it. Next time.)
We need to bring our A game, our A ideas. Maybe some of you did. I spoke to a few hundred people, and no one gave anyone rave reviews except for the panel with Jeff Jarvis, and the talk by Clay Shirky. (Note: I didn’t see hardly any panels, so I’m not talking from experience, as much as I’m talking from what the buzz reported).
What We Could Do: Sponsors and Exhibitors
We could do lots more in these regards. I think sometimes, as attendees, we forget that the sponsors are helping pay for the experience. How can we do more things to pay them back for that? Yes, we pay for the ticket. I think we would do well to grab a quick interview with a few sponsors while we’re out and about at all these parties.
What We Could Do: Interpersonal
People still anxiously talk all about themselves. We could ALL just ask about the other person, get to know what they’re doing, and share our best intentions of understanding each other. Sounds hippie, but that’s how things really get done. It doesn’t get done when you start into your pitch before really even getting to know us.
Might Just Be Me
Know what I saw more than anything else when I really took a moment to look around? Lonely people. I saw people not connecting. I saw lots of people who could’ve used a little attention. And I saw many people with lots of energy looking for a place to put it. And that means we have opportunities.
This wasn’t a rant about SXSW. It’s a post begging for a new way, a more engaged way, a human way to bring out the best in our efforts and time and expense.
What say you?