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Oh, That Party Culture

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The following photo essay is about SXSW Interactive networking events. However, before I start that, this year’s festival was been marred by events on Wednesday night, specifically a drunk driving attack on Red River Street that resulted in death. Anyone who has partaken in SXSW knows Sixth Street, and could imagine this happening. People are walking, meeting, and greeting everywhere — as evidenced by the photo below.

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The deaths violated an unusual sense of pedestrian safety created by barriers, police presence, and mass peer co-walking. My thoughts and prayers are with the family members of the two attendees who died, and the survivors who were struck.

SXSW Networking Culture

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Many people debate whether or not the content at SXSW is valuable, but for me the conference has always been about the incredible networking parties. In fact, I have been to only one session in the past three years.

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The long table at the Yahoo! Lounge.

Whether it’s sitting across a table sharing a drink or a cup of coffee or walking around at a networking party seeing friends and meeting new people, events dominate SXSW. You can walk up and down the streets of downtown Austin, and see venue after venue filled to the brim with interactive pros.

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Howard Greenstein and Cory Doctorow on 3rd Street.

Of course, networking events are not about masses of attendees, the streets, party themes or the venues themselves. While these things add to the ambiance, SXSW is always about the people.

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From left to right Richard Binhammer, two friends, Laura Thomas and Paull Young.

For example, a charity poker match benefiting charity: water hosted by Porter Novelli provided an opportunity to catch up with my friends Richard Binhammer, Christopher Barger, Wesley Faulkner and Laura Thomas.

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My original SXSW coach from 2009 and former housemate Aaron Brazell caught up with me at the DC All Star party. He’s showing off his new tattoo in the above photo. Both Aaron and I have a penchant to get ink in Austin. Fortunately, I escaped tattoo-free this year.

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One of my colleagues at client Vocus Dee Wong struck up a conversation with this sales rep from Hootsuite. The two were pretty funny on camera!

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Wherever you went you could see conversations happening. This chat happened at the IEEE party between William Hurley, or Whurley as he is known, and Eric Gradman from Two Bit Circus.

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It was wonderful to talk more with people who I am just getting to know like Ann Tran.

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That’s in spite of the fact that she and Kerry Gorgone photobombed this pic of Calvin Lee and Brivo LabsMike Martoccia, LOL! That’s what SXSW is all about, hanging out with work colleagues, building new relationships, and having a little fun together.

What was your favorite SXSW 2014 moment?

The top featured image was taken at Mellow Johnny’s during the Chevy Tweethouse event. You can see my whole SXSW 2014 photo set here.

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  • andreacook

    Hi Geoff! Speaking of SX networking… nice meeting you at the Drisk this year. Glad to see the link to your post in my FB feed this morning. Great photos BTW.

    • geofflivingston

      Ah, it was a pleasure to meet you, too, Andrea. What was your favorite moment at SXSW this year?

      • andreacook

        Great question! Since I have recently started calling myself an artist instead of a marketing professional, I found the musical moments and convos with artists the most fascinating. How about you?

        • geofflivingston

          I really enjoyed the DC All Star party, tons of fun!

  • hnorman

    SXSW is a festival I so desperately wanted to go to this year. I a curious as to how their PR team will continue to address the drunk driving incident for the future.

  • Pingback: Snapshots from SXSW | Rob Pegoraro

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