I attended the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas this past weekend, my first time. I have been a long-time admirer as someone with 20 years experience in the technology industry. I have heard that this conference was unlike all of the other technology conferences and was something special.

I started as I usually do with attending a few conference sessions. But it seemed no different than other conferences so I started to wonder: what gives? I thought this was the conference that everyone was talking about as one of the best … That’s when it happened: I attended my last session of the day and the first related to the job environment. I started talking to some of the people that attended and there were some great people who welcomed me and our message of providing better tools to job seekers. In particular, Jessica Merrell (aka blogging4jobs), Brian Batchelder, Chris Hoyt (aka TheRecruiterGuy) and Leanne Chase were very kind to listen to what I had to say and in some cases generally just hang out over the course of the conference. Thank you for your time!

Soon thereafter I realized that the SXSW conference is not really about the sessions, while some were good – it became clear that it’s much more about networking with people. Time and time again, I met people who in other situations might be impossible to get in front of. So, thank you to the following people for being so gracious:

  • Tim Ferris – thank you for your time; if you want to hit a (hurling) ball around next time you are in San Francisco, let me know
  • Chris Brogan – thanks for your very entertaining panel, for taking the time to chat and for your engaging comments
  • David Meerman Scott – thank you for an authentic, informative, lively discussion on social media for business and being a true gentleman when I came to talk to you
  • Capt. Nathan Broshear – thanks for the video (inspiring!), for being so helpful and for doing what you do

Thanks too to everyone else I met, names too numerous to mention who made my trip very enjoyable. The only disappointment was that the conference didn’t have a real top level forum about jobs, one of the biggest problems in our country today. There were some small sessions but none that really grasped the gravity of the problem for a lot of Americans which is a real shame.

So, what’s it all mean for us: It means that I have come back with a renewed vigour, a new enthusiasm for what we are doing based on what I heard, read and who I talked to over the 5 days I was in Austin.

What was your SXSW experience like and/or does it sound like other conferences you attended?