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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

When is BASHH coming back after coming back last time?

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We’ve had an odd history with scheduling BASHH in recent years. For those following, you know we took a lot of heat cancelling events back in January 2020 when the world was still open, but we were opting to be abundantly cautious.

We got a lot of hate mail and were accused of overreacting and most people hadn’t really heard of the pandemic.

Fast forward to 2021, and case numbers started to improve in Travis County in the fall, and we started the ol’ BASHH machine back up.

In January of 2022, we nixed events again as Travis County entered Stage 5 (the highest stage of caution to date).

Now, as we get back to Stage 4, where we were when events renewed last fall, we are finalizing plans for our March event, which will be post-SXSW.

Another question we get about timing is regarding our being the unofficial kickoff to SXSW, but we no longer do that because the events have spread out to a week before and a week after. When we had the massive event, it was when no other events existed to welcome people to town that arrived a day early.

So to answer many of your questions: No, we’re not booking a pre-SX event, and yes, we’re trying to see you in March, we miss you too.

Stay tuned for the next date, we hope to announce soon!

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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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