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The secret to attending BASHH as an introvert

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bashh introverts

I have a secret… when we started BASHH a decade ago, I was fairly extroverted. A little awkward, but still extroverted. Fast forward many years, and things have changed – now, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to be in a room full of people for a few hours, and I have to go home, turn the lights off, and have quiet time for the rest of the night (or sometimes next day).

Trust me, I understand the pains of networking as an introvert, and it’s tough. So I have some pointers for you!

1. Keep your goals low.

You’re not required to meet every person in the room (doesn’t that thought make your skin crawl!?). Before you even get into the car to go to the event, set a goal of meeting three new people. That’s it. You can do that.

2. Approach new people. No wait, don’t leave!

I have two methods for meeting my goal of meeting new people.

(1) I find someone sitting alone, fidgeting. They’re equally nervous to be there, so I can commiserate with them. I just go sit down and say, “Hi, I’m Lani.” They respond with their name, there’s some painful small talk, and then when it’s too awkward, I ask about food (“where’s your favorite place to be outdoors in town?”).

(2) I look for a group of three or four people that are smiling and walk over, butt in, and wait for a natural opening. It’s harder, but if you connect, learn their names and what they do, you’ve met your goal!

3. I try to skip past small talk.

The secret is that fellow introverts don’t hate talking to other non-robot humans, it’s the small talk that is just so awful. Yes, the weather is weather. Yeah, traffic is traffic.

So, I get past that with universal conversation that encourages others to talk and tell stories. Something like, “What’s the craziest injury you’ve ever had?” Everyone has an injury story.

4. Pace yourself.

You already know to pace yourself with drinking so the social lubricant doesn’t embarrass you, but I mean pace yourself with people. I have to excuse myself for a potty break or I have to step outside. Sometimes I just need a few minutes without interaction to keep my battery fully charged. Trust me on this one.

5. Let others help you network

Once I’ve met someone I get along with, if I’m feeling brave, I ask, “are there any interesting people here you think I should meet?” There are three possible outcomes. (1) They’ll say “nah,” and you’ll both move on to chit chat (or part ways). (2) “Ooh, so and so was over there!” and they’ll point you awkwardly in that direction. Later, go introduce yourself and say, “[That Person’s Name] said you were an interesting person to meet, I’m [your name]!” (3) They’ll say yes and immediately take you over and introduce you to someone interesting.

6. Worst case scenario…

Go find the volunteer(s) that helped you check in and just say hi. Even if you’re awkward (they may be, too), they’ll be a good comfort blanket as you gather yourself. Or hell, I’ll hold your hand through it (and we can talk about ghosts or cryptocurrencies or xbox or cats).

We can do this!!!

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Homer Hegedus

    March 14, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    These are some really great tips and I have read many articles on the subject of networking. I especially appreciate that you give simple and specific directions that are easy to remember and unlikely to result in utter humiliation or bodily harm.

    • Lani Rosales

      March 14, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      But only 90% unlikely 😉

      • Homer Hegedus

        March 14, 2018 at 8:18 pm

        Yes, of course nothing is 100% certain expect the big D&T.

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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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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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Grab your free tickets to the next BASHH

2020 will be our 12th year, and we invite you to join us for the next BASHH event to come meet like minds in a relaxed environment.

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bashh group

Austin’s favorite casual tech networking event, BASHH is coming up on February 27th, and your free tickets are available here!

We’ll be at Hangar Lounge, which has a chill vibe, and a vintage airline motif. We’ve reserved all three floors – the first floor fills up first, then some of us need a more intimate, quiet area, so the second floor with sofas is a nice respite. Lastly, the rooftop deck, especially as it gets dark, is the hotspot.

Arrive early for a complimentary drink ticket while they last, and come meet people casually without being sold anything, without having to suffer through a boring speaker, and without being bombarded by people in suits selling you insurance products. It’s just a bunch of us nerds in a room, trying to act like we know what we’re doing.

Click below to join us!

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