As many of you probably already know, South by Southwest (SXSW) recently wrapped up in Austin, and despite a few rainy days in the beginning, turned out to be a great event. If you’re not familiar with SXSW, Google it; you’re missing out. This was my first time attending, as I recently moved to Austin from Montana, and I doubt I’ll ever miss it again. With multi-faceted themes including music, film and interactive, SXSW is not only entertaining, but it becomes a breeding ground for creativity. Most importantly though, it is THE place to be in terms of networking.
Some of the most creative and brilliant minds from around the world converge in Austin for SXSW. The challenge is trying to meet them, but more importantly, that they remember you. Personally, I enjoy networking events and meeting new people. I guess I fall into that category, “people person” and typically don’t have too much trouble introducing myself to complete strangers. It’s a bit of an art, but really just requires the ability to muster up enough courage to walk up to someone and say, “Hi, my name is……..” Easier said than done, I know. Could there be an easier way?
Well as a serial networker looking for ways to meet new people, my colleague and I stumbled across what could quite possibly be one of the best icebreakers known to mankind; the fake mustache. On the first night of SXSW, a representative from the American Mustache Institute (who was dressed like Elvis) was handing out fake mustaches. For the rest of the night, everybody wanted to be our friend. We met so many interesting people that we made a trip to Party City the next morning and bought more mustaches. That night the mustaches came out and were all gone within 5 minutes. Again, we were the life of the party and had met everyone by the end of the night.
I think the real power of the fake mustache lies with its ability to serve as an icebreaker and how it prompts complete strangers to initiate conversation with the person in “stache”. What I found amazing though, was the number of people I ran into several nights later that said, “Hey, you’re the mustache guy!” From now on, I will always carry mustaches in my wallet; you never know when they could come in handy! Anyway, I encourage you to give it a try; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.