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5 Ways Attendees Connected at SXSW

Brian Friedman |

GettyImages-466581126SXSW is one of my favorite events of the year for its unique blend of interactive technology, film and music. This was the 31st year for SXSW being held in Austin, and the event was stronger and more vibrant than I had ever experienced before. Brands leveraged their creativity, and launched special activations that connected attendees through immersive experiences. Throughout my four days at SXSW I observed how people from speakers to attendees to celebrities connected with each other. Here are the top five ways that I saw people connecting and exchanging contact information:

Instagram

Instagram gained mass popularity when they made it easy for anyone to share high quality personal pictures to the world. In the past I had used Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with other attendees at SXSW. This year everyone asked for my Instagram, since they wanted to see my personal brand. Affinities connect people, and pictures show a lot about your personality, interests and aspirations. I brought a charging pack for my smartphone, however other attendees smartphones ended up dying limiting the use of Instagram.

High Fives

High fives? You may be thinking to yourself “Is that a new app?” Well, it’s not. I’m talking about the class gesture where you line up your elbow with a new friend and slap their hand. High fives were very present this year at SXSW. While they did not exchange contact information via the gesture (maybe one day!) they did connect attendees. At each immersive experience such as the Pandora House or Ready Player One, attendees were brought together via high fives. it’s a simple thing, but it was a great way to share the excitement and flow with new friends.

More Than We

On my third day at SXSW, I met one of my marketing idols from Nike. We ended up talking about wireless technology in sports equipment, and we decided to connect to continue the conversation. My new mentor handed me his phone and told me to enter my email. I typed in my email, pressed enter, and received a nice email with all of his social and contact information. I clicked on a link to download the app and discovered More Than We. This became my app of choice for the rest of SXSW.

LOOPD Smart Tag

YEC and Prudential used the LOOPD Smart Tags at their invite-only Millennial Party to celebrate the launch of the 80YOM (80 Year Old Millennial) campaign and the Super Connector book launch. Entrepreneurs wore the LOOPD Smart Tags around the venue and were empowered to exchange contact information with ease. By pressing a button on their LOOPD Smart Tag they were able to exchange contact information with other entrepreneurs in under two seconds. This was the easiest way to exchange contact information at SXSW, and I was able to focus on the in-person event in front of me.

Business Cards

Business cards may seem outdated, however they’re still extremely popular for networking. By the end of the event my pockets and backpack were filled with business cards. In 1890 “robber barons” made the business card famous, and attendees still rely on them for exchanging contact information reliably. By the end of the event most attendees had run low on their supply of business cards, and online connections were delayed until after the event. As much as I love the ability to show your personal brand with business cards it’s time to move towards an eco-friendly and digital solution.


Face-to-face connections at events are essential for establishing valuable relationships that live on. SXSW is a special gathering as it brings people together from all walks of life. During my week, I met interesting people from the worlds of videography, mindfulness, entertainment, cryptocurrency, athletics and more. While we were all from different industries we connected on a personal level through affinities. When you attend your next event, I challenge you to connect in a new way. It’s time to move on from the traditional business card, and it’s our role to push the world of connections forward.

Tech Trends, Event Tech

This Post was Written by Brian Friedman

Brian is the VP of Digital Innovation at Aventri. At Aventri he leads the company’s strategic objectives related to mobile, data and engagement technology. This includes driving user experience design, setting product direction, and guiding...

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