The iconic tech, music and film festival is upon us...

And with tens of thousands flocking to Austin it’s sure to be a busy week. If you’re a challenger brand, business owner, entrepreneur, marketer, or just someone who wants to get a deep dive into the latest in their industry, attending is a must. If you already bought your badge, or a badge fell in your lap, lucky you! You’re golden. If you’re badgeless this year, here are a few tips on making the most of Interactive with limited resources.

1.    RSVP to everything.

Interactive is one of those events with secret parties and panels galore to which you may not need a badge to gain entry. The trick is to RSVP aggressively, even if it means sacrificing the integrity of your inbox. From events like Capital Factory’s annual startup crawl, to software giants like BazaarVoice & SpredFast and publications like TechCrunch and Mashable – events are endless. These companies do their best to level the playing field for badge holders and non-badge holders alike with limited capacity free events like the Mashable House or the SpredFast Social Suite.

2.    Have a backup plan for your backup plan.

Limited capacity is a loaded phrase, especially during Interactive. Be prepared for plans to change if your number one option is full. This means making tough calls like whether to wait in line or move on – sometimes it can feel like Sophie’s Choice. Have a Plan B (and C!) for every event you pencil into your calendar.

3.    Travel by foot.

At the same time, don’t get too hung up on your itinerary. Just by walking around you can discover some unlisted events that you may never have noticed. Pop up shops, branded “houses” and free food are boundless around downtown, especially near the Austin Convention Center. Some brands capitalize on the foot traffic and want to share their product with anyone who will listen – and that means providing incentives. Milk it for all it’s worth.

4.    Bring a portable phone charger.

It does not matter if you charged all night and all morning, your phone will die at an utterly inconvenient time. With all that coordination to meet up with your friends and all that time spent researching your next move, it’s the nature of the beast. You might say, “but wait, there are charging stations!” Those charging stations are like the last piece of pizza. Prepare for a fight. So, instead of hovering over the guy at 86%, invest in a portable charger so you can call a Fasten/GetMe/RideAustin at the end of the night.

5.    Perfect your elevator speech.

You’re about to do a lot of networking; meeting more interesting businesspeople per square mile than any other event you’ll attend all year. Stock up on business cards. Yes, physical business cards. It’s easier than exchanging numbers and desperately trying to remember what company they were with. Most importantly, have your elevator speech prepared. It needs to answer not only what your company does, but why do you do what you do. Plug your differentiators. This kind of opportunity only comes around once a year. Stick the landing.

6.    Pace yourself.

SXSW is a long week, even if you’re just staying for interactive. Drink more water than you think you need, eat food when you’re hungry, and take breaks as much as possible. There are lounges scattered around the city sponsored by a plethora of brands where you can take a load off, hydrate, and recharge both yourself and your phone (but don’t rely on those charging stations). If you’re too tired to hoof it across the city to make it to a panel, listen to yourself. It’s already pushing 88 degrees in Austin. Most importantly, have fun and make the most of it!

Door Number 3 is a full service advertising agency that empowers rising brands to embrace their challenger-ability. To learn more about what it takes to become an empowered challenger, check out The Empowered Challenger Playbook: How Brands Can Change the Game, Steal Market Share, and Topple Giants – available now on Amazon.

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