Sharon Schweitzer and Kristen Eggars SXSW 2018

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

                                                                                           ~Isaac Newton

Mentorship involves acting as a trusted advisor to provide insight, wisdom and advice to help others succeed personally and professionally. A mentor may be a colleague, coach, international business expert, relative, or friend. They lend their wisdom in many ways. Many people believe that mentors are the key to success.

Have you ever thought about attending a mentoring session? Sessions such as those offered at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin each spring are a great opportunity to hear first hand experiences from experts in various industries. These people have acquired knowledge that benefit individuals, teams and organizations.

This year’s SXSW the conference will take place from March 8 -17. Many prominent individuals travel to Austin to share their knowledge, tips and tricks. I’m humbled to be invited again this year to serve as a SXSW Mentor for International Business.

If you are interested in the tech and/or start-up world this week long conference and festival is an excellent place to seek out a mentor. To be as ready as possible for your mentoring sessions, here are 3 essential tips on how to be prepared and make the most of your experience.

  1. Prepare: Interacting with a mentor means to act in a more professional manner, it’s a time where you’ll get to absorb and learn from an expert, so invest in preparing to make the most of your time. During Mentoring Sessions, if you sign up early you have a choice of mentors. Hence, investigate the lineup and choose the invaluable ones. Then for each mentor, write down your focus and potential questions to ask. Each mentor is unique and has different strengths, having an outline for the session will help you utilize your time most efficiently.
  2. Don’t flake: Even though SXSW is a major event, you can avoid the chaos with advance planning. RSVPs are required to attend sessions, especially Mentor Sessions. Keep in mind that signing up to these specific sessions means you are reserving a spot to have a one-on-one time with a mentor. If you must cancel, do so early so someone waiting for time with that mentor may sign-up. Don’t ghost! Be respectful to mentors and their time, as well as to those interested in attending.  
  3. Maintain the connection: Before the session, connect on the SXSW social media platform and share your questions. After the sessions are over, make sure you do everything necessary to stay in contact with your mentor. If you have business cards, utilize them so they remember your name and information. Ask for their card or website address. Add them on LinkedIn and keep them updated on your professional achievements. This will be helpful when asking for advice because they will be genuinely interested in assisting you.


Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, attorney, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide (Wiley 2015), now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.