How To Not Be A Douchebag At Tradeshows and Conferences Like SXSW

How To Not Be A Douchebag At SXSW

Do you turn into a lawn sprinkler loaded with business cards or stare at people’s boobs badges when attending trade shows and conferences like SXSW? Sorry to break the news to you this way, but you might be a “Douchebag. Don’t worry, there’s hope. Amber Osborne (Head of Lettuce Media), Ed Hunsinger (Free For All Media Inc.), John Adams (Twitter) and Scott Beale (Laughing Squid) were the panelists at the “How Not to be a Douchebag at a SXSW” and had plenty of advice. These are a few of their suggestions…

  • Don’t “badge surf” aka look at people’s badges first to see if they are worthy. It doesn’t matter where people work… just network.
  • It’s not important to be “first.” Who cares who joined Twitter first?
  • Is it cool to leave a panel? Yes, ok to vote with your feet and clear the spot for someone that’s interested. Just do it quietly and discreetly. And try not to form a crowd when leaving. It’s not a game of “Simon Says.”
  • People are not baseball cards (unless they have Meet Meme cards). Don’t take people’s cards just to create a SXSW collection.
  • Everyone loves business cards… but sometimes a tweet will provide better context.
  • The best way to market yourself or your company is to be genuine. Stickers, t-shirts and orange and blue superhero costumes work too (see image above).
  • Tradeshow “Douchebags” especially get cranked at the parties. Consider staying somewhat sober. Do not chase the party… enjoy the party your at and don’t party hop. Respect other people locational privacy…. if a celebrity shows up and doesn’t check in… Don’t do it for them and create a swarm
  • If you’re going to “Foursquare bomb,” or check-in a lot, make it fun and interesting by adding something clever to the check-in comments.
  • No covert photography. If you want to take a picture of a celebrity or a famous tech CEO, then ask first.
  • De-link your social network accounts. If you have your Facebook account setup to tweet, post to Flickr and update both Gowalla and Foursquare, you might want to unconnect them all while you’re at a conference. Reduce the number of cross posting and don’t inundate your friends.. especially those friends that may not be at SXSW.
  • Remember you sucked at one point…. be humble and don’t be a know-it-all. Don’t try to one-up everyone on everything.
  • Avoid “Mansplaining”… explaining in a patronizing manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of those listening. Commonly done by men when talking to women about technology. Not cool.
  • Make introductions and brings others into the circle.
  • Remember you are a tourist in this town. Respect the local community. They were here before you and they don’t care who you are. Tip well and don’t destroy or abuse their town.
  • Lift up your head. Don’t always be nose deep in your phone, laptop or iPad the entire conference completely not engaging without the community around you.

douchebagThe panel also shared a few of their favorite exit strategies when cornered by a Douchebag:

  • “Oh look, my beer is empty.”
  • “So have you met (insert name of the Douchebag on your other side).”
  • “Gotta run… my server just crashed!”
  • Tell people you’re an undertaker.

And here are some tips on how to stand out from the rest of the crowd:

  • Furry or skin tight costumes (see image above) or try the “Podcast Pickle.”
  • A custom hair die job.
  • Don’t set off the BS detector.
  • MEM – Manners, Entitlement, Motivation.
  • Be a connector.
  • Make your own parties

How To Not Be A Douchebag At SXSW