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Conversation starters for people who hate networking events

Networking can be a pretty annoying part of a successful career, but it doesn’t have to be if you ditch the ol’ “so what do you do?” question and try these conversation starters instead.

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One of the things we all hate about networking events (even BASHH sometimes) is the dreaded and immediate, “so what do you do?” question. Most of it ask it, and we have to wade through murky waters to answer it, and both sides tend to abhor the entire process.

So why not ditch it already? It’s still part of the ol’ song and dance of networking, but it doesn’t have to be so icky.

Extroverted or introverted, there are better conversation starters. Trust me on this, I rarely utter the dreaded phrase and I survive at least one networking event per month as an extreme introvert.

While my methods aren’t always best (I reflexively bring up stupid stuff like ghosts or injury stories), there are conversation starters that normal grownups can use.

  • Stick to the edges. Grab a drink and find someone sitting alone. Walk right on up and be honest. “These things are so intimidating, mind if I hang with you for a bit?”
  • When I get nervous, I resort to compliments or talking about something they’re wearing. Never ever tell someone “you look good/great,” but it’s safe to say “your necklace/ring caught my eye, is there a story behind it?” and then pray it isn’t something like this:

  • Non-political current events are an option if you’re careful and sometimes sports can be an icebreaker, but tread lightly here.
  • My favorite is to literally just walk up to someone and say hello. “Hi, I’m Lani,” and then it goes where it goes, even if my heart is up in my throat.
  • An easy one is about attendance – “hey this is my first time at one of these, how about you?” or “so, how’d you hear about this event?” and swap stories.
  • If your brain freezes, you can always resort to breaking the ice by talking about the venue or getting there. “I’ve never been to this bar before, how about you?” or “God I love the theme of this bar, but it is just SO loud, is it always like this?”
  • Asking how long someone has been in Austin always leads to a good conversation, as everyone has an origin story, even folks (like me) who grew up here.
  • If you really HAVE to know what someone does, asking alternative questions like “so how did you get into your line of work?” is always a less greasy way to ask what someone does for a living, and you’ll get a more interesting answer.
  • A great neutral question that I fall on quite a bit is, “so what is the coolest project you’re currently working on?” which allows people to talk about work or personal life and it’s their choice.
  • Nerd it up! Ask, “What’s the nerdiest or geekiest think you’re currently into?” and you could learn that they’re a D&D master or super obsessed with Star Trek, or maybe they just learned to crochet or something. We’re all nerds about something!
  • If all else fails, my final go-to is walking up to someone standing alone and admitting, “these things make me so nervous and I can’t tell one. more. person. what I do for a living – wanna talk about the most recent thing you binge-watched instead?” and 99.9% of people will gladly go that route with you.

Y’all, networking is tough. But store a few conversation starters in your pocket so you can meet new people without having to do the traditional and soul-sucking “so what do you do?” dance!

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BASHH Event

BASHH is back at Austin Beerworks this month!

BASHH is goin’ down in a brewery up North, so there’s free parking and a food truck to go with the updated BASHH vibe!

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In January of 2020, COVID wasn’t yet considered a pandemic, and we cancelled BASHH. We got a LOT of hate mail about it. We were accused of overreacting. The rest is history.

We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from y’all and we hear you loud and clear – you want BASHH back.

We’ll follow whatever the current requirements are at the time, and if things get to wild, we’ll cancel, but as it stands now, we’re ready to rock and roll.

This last year or so has been extremely difficult – we’ve all lost people we care about, we have all had to adjust our lives, and while online is amazing, there’s still something about kicking back with a drink and some fellow nerds.

To mark a new era, we’re trading in the posh downtown venues for the more laid back brewery environment. Our foray back into the offline world will be at Austin Beerworks (which y’all have NO idea how pumped we are about that, we’re huge fans)! We hosted there in August and it was very chill, just perfect for our bunch.

There will be FREE PARKING. That’ll be nice.

There will be a FOOD TRUCK. That’ll be nice.

There will be BEER. That’ll be nice.

If you have questions, we invite them any time. And we’ll see you in August!

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BASHH Event

Why you don’t have to pay to attend the next BASHH

BASHH doesn’t charge attendees which blows minds – here’s why we do it that way AND how.

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Big Ass Social Happy Hour August

This will be our first BASHH since before the pandemic hit and we’re just as nervous as you are, but let’s do this!

We got an email yesterday from someone upset that they couldn’t buy tickets. The idea that it is a free event didn’t make sense to them. There was no “buy” button, and that can’t be right!

But it’s true – for nearly a decade and a half, we’ve pulled this event off without charging attendees. Why do we do that? Because this event is our love letter to Austin, a way to bring the community together. Sometimes even $10 can be restrictive for some people – gas money may already be a challenge for some. We may charge some day, but we’ve been able to avoid that because of companies that want to support BASHH, to support you, to MEET you.

That’s why we sincerely ask you to check out our sponsors for the next BASHH.

Click to learn more about them – they deserve it for supporting this event and keeping it free to you!


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Invited MBA information

Virtual 12-week part-time mini-MBA

The Invited MBA is an affordable, accessible, and fully virtual 12-week part-time mini-MBA program that will give you the tools you need to level up your career!

– Gain essential business skills and boost your financial acumen

– Compete in our award-winning cohort-based business simulations

– Solve real-world problems, collaborate on peer projects, and increase your competence and confidence

– Connect with and learn from experienced mentors and successful business executives

Mention Big Ass Social Happy Hour in your application to receive an automatic $200 scholarship for the Fall 2021 cohort.

The final application deadline is September 9, 2021.

LEARN MORE

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BASHH Event

BASHH is back! We’re going to give it a shot at Austin Beerworks

BASHH is back and we’re leaving downtown – here’s where we’re headed and how we’ll do it. Yeehaw!

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Big Ass Social Happy Hour August

In January of 2020, COVID wasn’t yet considered a pandemic, and we cancelled BASHH. We got a LOT of hate mail about it. We were accused of overreacting. The rest is history.

We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from y’all and we hear you loud and clear – you want BASHH back.

We’ll follow whatever the current requirements are at the time, and if things get to wild, we’ll cancel, but as it stands now, we’re ready to rock and roll.

This last year or so has been extremely difficult – we’ve all lost people we care about, we have all had to adjust our lives, and while online is amazing, there’s still something about kicking back with a drink and some fellow nerds.

To mark a new era, we’re trading in the posh downtown venues for the more laid back brewery environment. Our first foray back into the offline world will be at Austin Beerworks (which y’all have NO idea how pumped we are about that, we’re huge fans)!

There will be PARKING. That’ll be nice.

There will be a FOOD TRUCK. That’ll be nice.

There will be BEER. That’ll be nice.

If you have questions, we invite them any time. And we’ll see you in August!

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