Starting a conversation, especially when chatting up strangers is a topic that everyone has thought of at least once in their lives. How do I avoid the awkwardness? How can I make this person like me?
Before starting the amazing list, you need to understand that social skills are mostly learned, not innate (I talk about that in detail in this post here). Doesn’t it make sense that the more parties you attend to (drunk or not), the more friends you talk to (imaginary or not), and the more networking you do, the more at ease you’ll feel?
If that’s the case, then being introverted or extroverted doesn’t mean anything when it comes to being good at talking to strangers.
The lack of experience results in shyness, not introvertedness. And yes, shyness has a cure: getting experience.
However, getting social experience is what shy people dread, so I put together this list to help you make that leap into the non-shyness zone.
Enough with the chatter, let’s get to the tips man!
Okay okay… jeez.
Tip #1 – Have a goal
This is an easy tip that should be present in your mind at ALL times.
Let’s say that you’re at a networking event. You usually see all kinds of people in these: business owners, employers, freelancers, etc…
What am I going to say to these people?! – you panicking
That’s easy, what are you there for?
If your answer to this question is just “to chat” or “to see what’s up”, then make a goal. There is always something that you want from the other person. Make that person help you and that’s how you break the ice easily when talking to strangers.
But I don’t have any goals like that! – you panicking again
Make one! Doesn’t matter what. Best if it’s something you’re actually interested in.
By having a goal in mind, you are opening yourself up for commonalities. It’s true that this way you won’t be connecting with everyone, but then again, why would you want that? It’s boring as hell to talk to random strangers without ANYTHING in common.
It’s okay to be a bit selfish here. Look and chat with people who can give you what you want (even if it’s a made-up goal). This way you’ll genuinely feel more drawn to the conversation, and in turn, the other person will become drawn as well.
Examples of good goals:
- I want to find a partner to help me out in a side project (looking for a designer for example)
- I want to find a partner to play League of Legends with me. (or any other specific game)
- I want to find a girl/guy who loves adventure and nature and is able to come for a trip with me this weekend. (or any other place)
- I want to find someone who loves to drink and can go out with me tonight.
The more specific of a situation you think about, the more likely you’re able to “recruit” people into your team/social network.
Tip #2 – Practice your lines beforehand
If you’re shy like I used to be (I used to have anxiety attacks when I had to chat random people) you need to understand that you must focus only on 1~2 things at a time.
With that said, when talking to strangers – especially breaking the ice, you want to be saying the same line all the time… or well most the time.
This ensures that you get great at saying the line well. Eventually, it won’t matter if you’re nervous or not. You will say the line with such perfection that people will wonder how amazing you are.
Wait, why do I even want to do this? Won’t I just be faking my confidence?
In the beginning, yes, but that confidence will grow into you. And that’s exactly what you want: to overcome shyness. Here’s the equation:
Confidence = Experience = Anti-shyness
Now, you may be thinking that using canned lines is immoral. If that’s the case, then understand that you are doing people a favor by making the conversation as flowing as possible.
Imagine these 2 situations:
1 – Someone comes up to you, says “Hey I’m Rick, how are you?”
Then you answer “Good, you?”
“I’m good as well.”
2 – Someone comes up to you, says “Hey there, I’m John. You look like you’re a designer, am I right?” (or whatever)
“Yes (or no), what made you think that?”
“You look very artsy.”
and so on…
Even if the second stranger was saying the same line to everyone, you’d still prefer this situation.
Let’s face it: no one enjoys feeling awkward. You’re giving them a favor by breaking the ice easily.
So your next exercise is to think up 1~2 sentences to say for common situations. Here’s an example I did for myself:
- Meeting a female friend of a friend for the first time
- “So this is the infamous Joanna. I see. *joking smile*” (mysterious/ interesting approach)
- “Lady with the red shirt, pleasure to meet *cheesy gentleman bow*” (funny, cheesy approach)
One thing you’ll have to do is adapt to your personality. Some people will work better with humor, while others will come off better by being serious (learn how to be funny from the pros, if you really wish to). This, my dear friend, is something that you’ll have to experiment with.
Tip #3 – Use online tools to your advantage
Finally, whether your an introvert or extrovert, you need experience, a LOT of it. As a shy person, this is the worst part. I get it. Unless you plan to live in the mountains and enjoy your life like Tarzan, you’ll never be able to escape from meeting new people, so you might as well get good at it.
Now, what’s the best way to build up this experience nowadays?
Let’s take a look at some examples:
- Use websites such as Meetup and join social gatherings in your area.
- Join chat rooms of your favorite video game on Discord.
- Use Facebook Events and attend nearby events.
- For dating, use apps such as Tinder or Bumble
The Internet is amazing. Use it fully for your advantage. With that said, Speakrandom allows you to talk to strangers online easily. This way, you can talk to multiple people at the same time, and no camera is allowed (voice-only) so it’ll be easier to relate to people without being judged by your appearance.
If you have others that you’d like to share, comment below about them. I’d be glad to hear them out as well.