As a grown-up, you’ll probably be in uncomfortable situations from time to time. One of these will almost surely be a party where you don’t know anyone. It may be a work function where you’re expected to (gag) network. You could have been invited by a friend trying to get you to meet new people (ie. get laid). Whatever the circumstances, you’ll need a plan to which you can desperately cling as you navigate the social waters.
Below you’ll find what I like to call a “Party Pack,” a list of three things to prepare before a social function in unfamiliar territory. This is just what works for me. Leave your own suggestions too!
1. Personal Blurb. I know it can be hard, but find something interesting to say about yourself. Have it ready ahead of time. Do you mountain bike, speak German, collect coins, or brew your own beer? Have you traveled somewhere interesting? Have you ever met a celebrity? Are you reading something really interesting? Try to have a little something extra to tell people about yourself in addition to your name and what you do for a living.
2. Interview Question. Prepare a question – or several questions – you can ask when you meet a new person, again, something other than name and place of employment. This way you won’t stare awkwardly across the room and yammer on about the weather. A good way to get people to talk about their interests is to ask about their favorite places. “So where are some good restaurants/clubs/music venues/etc around here?” They’ll be able to name off a few places they like, why they like them, what you should try, and all this talking can actually lead to real conversation!
3. Laughs. To help break the tension, you can whip out a joke. If you can make someone laugh, the rest of the conversation will go much more smoothly. Unless you know your audience really well, though, keep away from anything too off-color or possibly offensive. You can tell a funny or amazing story that happened to you, or you heard at work or on the radio. Tell a riddle that stumps everyone. You could even share a knock-knock joke, but make sure it’s actually funny and not just lame. Try to stick with one that has worked for you in the past. If you don’t have a “signature” joke, there are plenty to be had online. Search for jokes, riddles, daily humor, or similar.
Have tips for talking to new people, or a joke that you really like? Share it in the comments!