Meeting new people is tough. Making genuine connections is even harder. We've put together five things that you can do to have more fun and be more social at your next Meetup. Think of the following as your Meetup checklist:
1) Slow Down When you move quickly, others may perceive you as nervous or uncomfortable. Being excited and engaged is important – but focus your energy. You want to maintain control of your body language and voice. It’s the difference between a disco ball and a laser beam: the disco ball is wild and fun but gives you a headache after a while… a laser can cut through steel.
2) Loud Voice: Speaking quietly sub-communicates that you aren't sure of what to say. In a noisy environment, you want to speak loudly enough that people can hear you over other conversations—this is particularly important when you first start talking to someone. Once you make that first impression, you really just can ride that wave – everything you do later will be rooted in the confidence you demonstrated early on.
3) Interrupt People: You will rarely have the perfect, unobstructed opportunity to meet the people you really want to talk to. You don't want to interrupt somebody's emotional story of love and loss, but you shouldn't feel afraid to engage a group of people who seem interesting. Just say, “Hello, don't let me stop you," to whoever is speaking at the time. After you get an idea of what they are talking about, toss something in. It's a lot better than hovering around people waiting for a chance to join the conversation.
4) Commit Fully: If you hesitate, people pick up on that, and they’ll see you as someone who isn't used to making new friends. This habit is what we call orbiting—you are kind of in someone else’s personal space, but not actually engaging them directly. It comes off as awkward for everyone involved. If you go in strong and really plant your feet, people will treat you like a person they want (or should want) to talk to.
5) Expect Success: How would you act if you knew that the people you were walking up to were going to LOVE you? You would approach them with almost no fear at all. Now, we don't want you to simply pretend that everyone is going to love you… (Well, we do, but that will come with practice.) For now, we just want you to think, maybe… maybe they will be super happy that I have come over to say hello. If you assume the best case scenario, then the best case scenario is more likely to happen. Making friends and meeting new people is a mental game. Expect success. Once you see the benefits, you'll understand why it is so important.
Connecting with others is the most important thing we can do, so make sure you get out there and actually show up to those Meetups. Who knows who you will meet?
For your next Meetup, give these tips a try—think of the Meetup as an opportunity to try some stuff out, regardless of the outcome. You’ll be surprised at how the smallest change to your behaviors will create better relationships.
Good luck and have fun!
He is the Organizer of several Meetup Groups, including the Vancouver Social Freedom Meetup and Social Mastery in San Francisco, and has spoken at many other Meetup Groups to help members become more socially fluent.