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The Search for New Friends: Before an Event

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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October 26, 2013

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Do you know if an event you wish to make new friends at is worth going to or are you flying in blind?

You’re going to an event and you want to make the most of it socially. You’re serious about adding some nice new friends to your active friendship list. How will you go about doing this? Is there anything you can do before the event?

I often go to events to relax, meet some new people and simply enjoy the company of friends with little to no preparation beforehand. When I’m seriously in pursuit of new friendships though it’s an entirely different matter.

Choosing a Suitable Event

The first thing is to choose a suitable event to go to. Ideally, it’s the kind of event where people get together for the specific purpose of socializing with other people or doing a group activity like hiking, board gaming or a pub crawl. This to me is so much better than going to a night club or pub on my lonesome and breaking the ice the hard way multiple times with isolated individuals and small groups that may or may not be respond well to me.

Striking up conversations at the kind of events I go to is easy. People are very receptive, approachable and some of them will come up to me, introduce themselves and start a conversation.

I prefer meeting people at organized events of 15 – 60 people. I check out whether going to the event is worth my while. How many people are going? Will there be people my age there? Will there be time for socializing? With this particular group I know there will be many opportunities to meet new people. That’s the way I like it. It so happens a record number of people have indicated they are coming.

The Events Website or Web Page

With this particular group, the website gets members to RSVP on-line before an event. There is an invitation list you can check out that shows you the profile pictures of all the people going to the event. I had a look through these to see if there was anyone who interested me. I made a mental note of their names and quickly check out their profiles.

Unfortunately, they have written very little about themselves on their profile. I made the effort to copy and paste the names of people I’m most interested in over at facebook. Sure enough, I am able to find out a little more information about these people. If you do this I suggest you don’t mention to the person you’re talking to that you tracked down their other profile over at facebook. It might creep them out! Anyway, while I’m doing this I refresh my memory on the names of people I have met before at this once a month event.

Common Ground

The reason I’m checking out these people beforehand is that I like to see what people’s interests are and whether we have anything in common. I did notice one of them is an investor. That is a subject I like a lot but I haven’t invested in a while and I no longer feel the pulse of the market.

I quickly visit my favorite investing websites and do some reading. Just long enough to know where certain sectors of the market are at and what are some current promising investments. If we do meet up I’ll have something current and interesting to say on the subject.

Contacting People Prior to an Event

I send a few messages off to some of them on the site that interest me briefly introducing myself and indicating that I’m hoping to have a chat with them when I see them. If we have something in common I’ll touch on it. If it’s an Aussie I’ll say where I’m from in Australia, how long I’ve been in this country and that it would be good to talk to a fellow Aussie for a change. As for the investor, I’ll mention my interest in energy, world mining and agriculture and say that it would be interesting to compare notes on good areas to invest in in a world economy that is facing serious difficulties.

Wealth of Knowledge Database

Next, I decide to add something to my Wealth of Knowledge Database. It includes topics that are likely to come up in a conversation or are of general interest to people. Everything from the time the subway opens and closes to places to see and things to do and how to get there. Mmm, what am I going to add to that list?

It occurs to me that I don’t know anything about cycling in the country I live in so I send my friend who is an avid cyclist an email asking him to fill me in on cycling clubs, the cycling path that runs in and around the city and the competitions that go on during the year. I will put a condensed version of his answer on my cell phone.

Keeping in Mind Previous Conversations

I remembered that at the last event one of the expats I know and like raised a question about retirement that nobody could answer. I find the answer on-line as well as some general information and will touch on the subject again when I see him with my new found knowledge. If he doesn’t turn up I’ll contact him by phone or email later.

Inviting Other Friends

If I’m serious about recruiting new people for my active friendship list I will most likely go to the event alone. This maximizes my time spent with new people and forces me to get out of a comfort zone. If it’s a small event I may invite a few people to it that I don’t know that well. It so happens I haven’t seen one of my friend’s for a while so I invite him to the event. He says he can make it.

Good Impressions

For this event, I’m going to buy a nice new pair of pants and a shirt I saw when passing a Gucci store. I visit my hairdresser, polish my shoes and will shave before the event.

Mental Preparation

On the way to the event I may mentally prepare myself for a few moments by bringing things into the forefront of my mind. Usually recent events in my life or reading something on a subject I may wish to discuss with someone. One of the reasons I do this is that I do not have the gift of the gab like some people I know. I am a quiet person by nature. I’m a great listener and enjoy hearing what people have to say. In a group conversation I am often the one who says the least. Therefore I have to work a little harder as a conversationalist.

How Have I Benefited?

What have I gained by doing all this? I have screened the event beforehand and know I will be entering a social situation that is rich with opportunities to make new friends. Obviously, my conversation on the night will be more interesting and stimulating with certain people. That along with the way I present myself will hopefully make a good impression and make me one of the more memorable people that a person meets on the night.

I have refreshed my memory on the names of people I have met so I can greet them by name and have a better chance of remembering the names of new people I meet. When I end a conversation I always like to say the person’s name but there have been times in the past when I couldn’t do that.

Can you think of anything else we could do before an event?
 
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