Talking to Strangers

I am ‘traditionally’ a shy person. Not overly forward or outgoing personality. I’ve been trying to get out of my shell and be more social. Talk to people, exchange ideas and network. Because after all people are the most interesting ‘machines’ you can find ;)

Since I moved to Singapore work, I’ve been to a good number of developer events. These events bring together developers who share similar interests as I do. Which is grate because I can share with them what i know and learn a lot more things from them. After all thats how we all grow as developers, right?

Been traditionally shy and not very social it was a challenge at first for me to talk to people that I’ve never met let alone talked to. These guys were complete strangers to me. All I knew about them was that they share some interest in the topic(s) of whatever the meet-up.

At first when I go to a event, I feel awkward, out of place and uncomfortable. I look around, see people talking to each other. Its like everybody knows everybody expect me! This doesn’t make things easier for me.

I’ve seen some folks just spend time staring at their phones/laptops. This is one easy thing to do when you don’t know who to talk to. Or feel too uncomfortable to do so. As I found out later this doesn’t help.

If you are not sure how to start a conversation, try asking a question that you have about a topic discussed in the meet-up from someone nearby. For me this feels more natural (IE: if I have a question about something some speaker just said, I’d just ask someone near by to clear my doubts).

Drag a colleague or a friend with you to whatever meet-up you go to. This will make you feel a bit more comfortable. But don’t just talk with your friend throughout the whole meet up. Say hi to some folks you see around.

We tend to think that everyone in a meet-up know everyone, because they seems to be familiar with each other. But this is hardly the case. Most people just come start discussions with other folks they meet for the first time.

Finally the only way to improve your social skills is to actually try being social! There are no shortcuts or a work around. Once you break the ice it can be a fun and rewarding experience.