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SXSW Interactive: The First-Timer’s Guide To Networking Heaven

Talk about a ridiculously amazing few days for Dyn. Going into our SXSW trip, I emailed or called absolutely everyone I knew that was going to be in Austin, TX. I buzzed Managed DNS customers like GOOD, Behance, 37signals, Mashable, OneSpot, FreshBooks, Get Satisfaction, Twitter, Kiva, MediaTemple and SimpleGeo.  I hit up every partner and/or prospect at least once. I scoured the posted keynotes, panels, exhibitors, sponsors, party hosts and attendees looking for all prospects, customers, partners and friends of Dyn to see if we could connect.

Oh man, connect we would and connect we did.

Kyle York & Kevin Rose at a DynTini

What became very evident was that all those companies I mentioned and the people that work there are all intertwined in one way or another far deeper than I knew. It’s the “in crowd”.

This person use to work at this company. This company partners with this company. This guy went to college with this guy. These few companies are YCombinator companies or candidates. The others, TechStars. These ones at this event are Boston-based (Hubspot, DartBoston, Grasshopper, The Professional Wingman, Thought Labs). These ones at another event are from NYC (Foursquare, Indaba Music, BustedTees, The Onion, Hot Potato). Some companies shared VCs. Some companies owned other companies. It was incestuous.

Being from New Hampshire, we were a bit of an enigma. High tech in NH? Not from San Francisco or NYC? Many people are surprised. Surprised all 35 employees are in the Granite State. Surprised how connected we actually are, where we need to be tied in. With nearly 13 million ecommerce users served over 12 years and nearly 500 Managed DNS customers (some of the biggest brands on the Web), our human network is as solid our technical one.

So with all of that said, here are a few words of wisdom for next year’s SXSW Interactive, should you be so lucky to attend!

Plan ahead.

I’m not Captain Organization or anything, but as I talked about above, I tried my best to be prepared for the five days in the “Live Music Capital of the World.” I’m not saying you should have an exact agenda mapped out or a Remember the Milk to-do list, but you should definitely know who you want to try and meet up with and when to try and make that happen.

It’s all about the parties.

Yes, it’s a little bit of a boondoggle. Get on one guest list and you end up on all of them. It’s like a traveling guest list because all the companies and people are connected in one way or another. I saw the same people four nights in a row at all the same events. Talk about an opportunity to evolve meet-and-greets into full-fledged relationships. We’re lucky our client list is so good; But you know that’s not by accident or happenstance, right?

Keep your head on a swivel.

Being a former college football player and a defensive back to boot, this was commonly screamed from the sidelines. If you aren’t paying attention to who might be around you or coming your way, you get crushed or worse, the other team scores. There is nothing worse than missed opportunities and at SXSW, you don’t want to miss that chance to converse with someone you’ve been chasing down with calls and emails for months. Don’t get “ear-holed.”

There’s no substitute for hard work and hustle.

Run around. If someone texts or tweets at you to meet them, get there. If you’re at a party and someone you want to connect with checks in on Foursquare, go find them. Stare at every name badge that walks by. You don’t sleep at SXSW. You barely eat. You hustle and drink (booze then water, booze then water, booze then water). It’s the way it works. Stay hydrated. If you can’t handle that, you probably should stay home. It’s the college lifestyle with money to spend and schmoozing to get done.

And schmooze we did. Here’s the SXSW Highlight Reel.


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Kyle York
Whois: Kyle York

Kyle York is GM & VP, Business & Product Strategy, and has been a long-time executive, having joined in 2008. Over the years, he has held go-to-market leadership roles in worldwide sales, marketing, and services. In his current role, Kyle focuses on overall corporate strategy, including: positioning and evangelism, new market entry, strategic alliances and partnerships, M&A, and business development. Outside of Oracle Dyn, Kyle is an angel investor, entrepreneur, and advisor in several startups.