The top three most frequently asked questions we get about BASHH are (1) What is BASHH like? (2) What should I expect (aka, what should I wear, how should I act, do I fit in)? and (3) I love BASHH, how do I get more involved?

What is BASHH like?

The short version is that BASHH is usually in a bar in downtown Austin, and is a large group of people that come together because they want to meet new people and mingle with old friends they’ve made at BASHH. There is usually beer involved, and sometimes some business card swapping, but it’s never forced, you never have to listen to a seminar, and no one is selling you anything.

The long version: For your first BASHH, the first challenge will be parking, because let’s face it, Austin isn’t Mayberry anymore. You’ll approach the venue with a little bit of nervousness (everyone does, you’re not alone), because you’re not sure what kind of people will be inside, but you have a backup plan in case you hate it (don’t worry, you’ll feel silly for having one when you hear what it’s like).

You wait in a short line and get to a registration table where a friendly face helps you fill out a nametag with your Twitter name or real name, and if you’re early enough, they’ll hand you a complimentary drink ticket. Yes. Drink ticket. Sometimes it’s beer, sometimes it’s local vodka, but it’s always good, because free drinks taste the best, let’s be honest.

You may be offered neon stickers to add to your nametag that say things like “hire me,” “I’m single,” or “I hate stickers,” that act as an icebreaker. If you don’t know anyone, this is a good way to spot other singles or sticker haters and strike up a conversation.

You wander over to the bar to get that first drink, and someone randomly says hi and begins talking to you like they know you. Don’t freak out, this is normal – we’re all here to mingle with other Austinites. You both talk about the weather, or your shoes, and the other person notices that you have a “hire me” sticker on your nametag, and asks what you do. Come to find out, that’s exactly what their company is hired for. You exchange cards, and promise to keep in touch.

You wander over to a group of four people laughing loudly, they look fun, and you say “this is my first BASHH, you guys look fun!” There is a 99.9995% chance that the group will begin introducing themselves and ask about you, and you’ll learn that one guy went to the same high school as you did, but was a few years ahead of you, or that a gal is a jewelry designer in town, and you suddenly fall in love with her designs and have a new addiction, or that the other guy is a CEO at a team you’ve been trying desperately to get in front of.

You ask for their Twitter handle or business card, they ask for yours, and the swap is more like friends hanging out than a lame networking event.

Soon, you realize it’s 11 o’clock and that you forgot you ever had a backup plan to go to the movies, and you’re tired, but you’re being invited to go have a second dinner at Frank’s, and who can pass up gourmet hot dogs with new friends and possibly future coworkers?

Tips for new and veteran attendees

We often ask attendees if they have tips for newbies, and here are the most common answers we receive:

  1. Don’t be shy, even if you’re shy. Everyone is there to mingle.
  2. Don’t shove your card down anyone’s throat. Aggressive sales are always rejected at BASHH.
  3. Have fun. Period. BASHH is only successful for you if you want it to be. (We also hear a lot of “you get out what you put in” sentiments)
  4. Dress like you’re going to a casual dinner with friends from out of town. No ties are required, and business casual or casual is fine, but photographers will be there, so you’ll want to be aware that images of you will pop up on the internet, so if you want to look fly, that’s okay too.
  5. Listen well. People that yap without listening don’t fit the culture of BASHH. We’re all here to mingle, not to listen to soapboxing or a snake oil sales pitch.
  6. Timing is important. If you arrive too late, you won’t get a complimentary adult drink, and if you arrive too early, you may have to stand outside in the weather, so being on time is usually best.
  7. BASHH is not Vegas. Yes, we’re all drinking, but if you get up on the bar to dance, pictures may be taken, and when you don’t remember it the next day, you’ll feel pretty dumb, so drink, but do so in moderation, this is still a networking event.
  8. Be prepared to miss work on Friday. You heard us. We can’t tell you how many people call in sick on Fridays after BASHH due to having too much fun on a school night. Some people even plan to take the day off.
  9. Don’t forget to network. After the first hour, you may feel like you’re just hanging out with friends, but be sure to introduce yourself to other people, mingle, approach the person sitting alone in the corner, and just impose.

How do I get involved?

After people attend BASHH, for the following week we get a lot of emails asking how to get involved, and there are a lot of ways to support the community we are all building together.

Please email us if you’re interested in volunteering to help with any of the following:

  1. Volunteer one hour at the registration table at the upcoming BASHH.
  2. Blog about your experience at BASHH on your own blog, and consider a guest post on this site as well (we can work on that topic together).
  3. Help us get the word out – tweet, Facebook, email, etc. Social networking is how this event was built, and we want to keep spreading it that way.
  4. Media outreach is ridiculously useful. If you have PR talent, we want you!
  5. Fundraise to keep the event free for all attendees.
  6. If you are WordPress talented, we need you!
  7. If you have creative ideas, we’re open to those too.