This post was originally published on February 22, 2012 on Forbes.com.
The most popular meme at South By Southwest (SXSW) 2011 was Charlie Sheen. Thankfully, the world has moved on. But, that doesn't mean that SXSW 2012 should contain any less Winning on your part. Here are 7 ways to make sure SXSW 2012 goes your way.
1) Know why you're there and own it. If you're there to party, rock on. If you're there to find, win, and close business, act like it and take advantage of the fact you're the sober one.
2) Plan your work, work your plan. Last year I did 21 breakfast meetings in a 5-day period. I started booking my schedule three weeks before SXSW started and scheduled my meetings at the same coffee shop on the hour every hour starting at 8 a.m. and running through to lunch time.
3) Eat Breakfast Tacos. There are a ton of reasons to love the food in Austin, but the abundance of Breakfast Taco choices is my favorite. My favorites are from Taco Deli and served at Jo's Coffee on South Congress. But, Jo's 2nd Street location downtown is more conveniently located to the Austin Convention Center, a better bet for SXSW goers.
4) Overbook yourself. Not every panel is going to be good. It's just a fact and the sooner you come to grips with this frees you up to walk out if the session you're attending turns into an ego-fueled lovefest by those on stage.
5) Don't suffer from FOMO. When you find yourself enjoying a panel or a party, lock in and make the most of it. Just because you hear Ashton Kutcher is buying the next round somewhere else doesn't mean you need to leave where you are for a glimpse. And if you ask Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital, he'd add, "Don't wait in any lines. What's happening behind the velvet rope is never worth it."
6) Take your name tag off. If you are more than 5 blocks away from the Convention Center, you probably don't need to be wearing your name tag looking like you're on a field trip for technology enthusiastic adults.
7) The best things that happen at SXSW will happen when you aren't expecting them to. Roger Tinch, a 5-time SXSW veteran and self described tech-centric cinephile, says that the best place to randomly meet new people is in the Hilton Hotel lobby bar after 9 p.m. Having seen that scene in action, and met one of my favorite authors there last year at 1 a.m., I can confirm this to be true.
Last year's SXSW led to over half of the deals and partnerships that my company did throughout the rest of 2011. There's no other time on the technology and marketing calendar with this many opportunities and chances at Winning.