It costs a ton of time and money to go to something like SXSW. Other than having a blast, why go?
Here's an interesting way to think about it, something I've used to change the way I attend events (I don't do many, and won't be there, so have fun without me):
Think back a year ago to the last time you went. What do you remember?
Do you remember the presentations that were later on videotape? Do you remember the special screenings of movies? Do you remember the crowded cocktail parties? Bumping into a net celebrity? I don't.
So I don't do them. At the last TED, I didn't attend a single session. They're fabulous, but I can always watch them later, on video.
Instead, I focus on what I do remember: the engaged conversations. The one on one discussions of what someone is working on. Helping a friend design a book cover or solve a thorny entrepreneurial problem. Sneaking out to go to a taco stand for lunch with a very cool CEO…
These are the reasons it is worth going. (At least for me). So do more of that, I think.
This isn't easy to do. Most conferences are organized around mass, not around individual interactions that last. It takes an effort to seek out conversations that matter.
Will people miss you if you don't show up next year? Why?