Meeting People is Easy
November 7, 2006 8:16 PM   Subscribe

How do I meet people and win them over immediately?

Once I get to know someone, I believe that most people would say I'm a blast. In fact, were I asked to blow my own horn, I've been popular more or less my whole life. That said, it takes me awhile before that awkward feeling of being around a stranger I'm supposed to interact with goes away.

Thus, I want to know how to meet someone and, within the first few minutes, feel comfortable with them. I want people to almost immediately think of me as, well, a cool guy.

I'm chiefly looking to impress people in environments like parties and social events. Complete strangers, no introductions.

Also, I'm NOT looking for advice on how to make new friends or sustain long lasting relationships, I'm looking for advice more along the lines of networking.

Also, if anyone knows of any books, audio books, blog posts, etc. that cover this topic, those are welcome as well.
posted by JPowers to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I find that people who try hard to impress other people are almost always the most annoying people in the world. I know several "Johnny-on-the-spot" types, by which I mean the person who always has the answer to a question, the last comment in a conversation, an opinion on everything, etc. etc. I strikes me as extremely disingenuous and makes it seem like these people are trying too hard.

My advice is to be yourself. Rocket science, I know. If you're nervous in new social situations, one way to really break the ice and endear yourself to someone else is to say "I'm nervous in situations like this. Aren't you?" You are, after all, human. (I hope.)
posted by Brittanie at 8:29 PM on November 7, 2006

Give cookies (laced with Dopamine) to everyone. Or money. Or maybe try with the smiling every now and again.
posted by oxford blue at 8:31 PM on November 7, 2006

Best answer: Have you read "How to win friends and influence people" because simple and effective techniques are in there.
1. Learn someone's name and use it (not too much).
2. Listen to them, find out what they're interested and ask them good questions about it. Listen harder.
3. That's about it.

The making friends bit comes in a bit later (I know you don't want this bit) about giving out intimate details of yourself, sharing etc. Don't do this at first meeting. If you never do it, you will come across as a salesdude.
posted by b33j at 8:53 PM on November 7, 2006

Best answer: How To Win Friends and Influence People

Seriously. You can read this book in one sitting. And it's only 8 dollars. Or free to borrow at your local li-berry.
posted by neuron at 9:11 PM on November 7, 2006

I think if you take the aforementioned tactics and add a good dose of goofiness or self-deprecation - something that rounds out your image to make you seem as if you're having a good time being you, and not trying to sell yourself.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:15 PM on November 7, 2006

I think an equally salient question is how to make friends without creeping people out. This kind of thing takes some finesse and it's too easy to overdo it. I haven't entirely figured it out myself.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:16 PM on November 7, 2006

No matter who they are, no matter how ugly or pretty or stupid or smart, EVERYONE wants to be liked. You don't have to fake like you like them, just act like you know that, and like you want them to like you too.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:50 PM on November 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

Do you know any sales people? It's their job to be able to do what you describe, so I'm sure they'd have a lot of advice to share from experience.
posted by forallmankind at 11:04 PM on November 7, 2006

You could learn to juggle. People do like jugglers, and it's not that hard to learn. I don't do it as much as I used to, but I find that doing a few seconds of straight 3 body juggling of small objects around a shy person will often get them past their initial reserve. Today, I was standing in the grocery line behind a woman with 2 small kids, and they were whining incessantly for candy from the bins in the checkout area, which she was denying them. I had a few apples in my cart, and I dug them out and did a few seconds of 3 body, and explained that apples were good to eat and great for juggling, and they started whining to their Mom for apples, not candy. It was fairly novel for her to hear them whining for apples, at least.

Or, you could invest some hours in learning and practicing small sleight of hand. A lot of people learn a few tricks, but few keep at staying in practice, or working it into little ritual routines, but a friend of mine has made it something of a trademark, and never leaves the house without a couple of 'tricks' on him. He used to stutter badly, and still does, if he gets nervous, but he's really good with sleight of hand, and it's really transformed him around new people. He often does things for kids, and he works at it like a hobby, so he's often got some new illusion, if you haven't seen him in a week or two. He tried working up a stage act, and he still does a little stage magic for schools occasionally, but he really likes doing little 2 and 3 trick bits of "small magic," seemingly on an impromptu basis. Lot of coin tricks, some folding money tricks, a few hankerchief and key bits, just stuff that you'd have in your pockets or hands walking down the street. Sounds weird, perhaps, but Tony has so much fun doing it, it really is fun for others, too. I think what Tony discovered is that in doing his tricks, he forgets to be himself, and other people forget to be themselves, until they've shared some incredulity, and maybe a smile. And that little moment is enough to make them not strangers any more.

Or learn a little oragami. A girl I know folds maybe 20 little kinds of figures from pads of PostIt notes she carries, and leaves these neat little paper figures where ever she goes. People keep them or not, as they will, and she's often asked to show people how to do it. She folds with them, they learn something, and she goes on, folding new things, through the world. I like what she does, but I find her little creations hard to juggle, so I let her upstage me when ever we meet.
posted by paulsc at 11:26 PM on November 7, 2006

paulsc : If she ever leaves an origami unicorn on your desk, let us know. You may be able to answer an intriguing question ;-)

JPowers: be yourself, and understand that not everybody is going to like you. For example, if you turned up at a party and went out of your way to impress in the splashy manner you seem to be looking for, I'd think you're a wanker (or shallow, or both).

Having said that, you really seem to be asking how you can feel comfortable with other people, not how to make other people like you. And that only comes from learning to like and be interested in other people.
posted by Pinback at 11:44 PM on November 7, 2006

Best answer: Really, really, really the best way to get people to like you is simply to like them first.
That doesn' t mean you pick and choose what to like about them - instead, it means that you decide to actually like them before you meet them, go in knowing you like them, and work from there.
Ask questions and listen to the answers. Find out what their interests are, without asking directly, just listen for what they're talking about.
Make it not about you and how awkward you feel - be compassionate about the fact the fact that they may be feeling just as awkward, if not more so, than you. Feel free to FEEL awkward, but just let it go and don't worry about it.
My trick is to walk into any party as if I were hosting it, and it's my job to make everyone feel comfortable with each other, and with me. Between that and the trick of just liking people first, I never have problems any more.

(I used to be horribly shy, by the way, like heart palpatation when talking to strangers shy. These tricks truly changed my life. Now people would laugh out loud if I tried to convince them I once felt shy or awkward with strangers. )
posted by pomegranate at 5:38 AM on November 8, 2006 [2 favorites]

I have a deep-seated hatred of all people who are obviously trying to get me to like them when we first meet. Especially jugglers.
posted by bingo at 6:47 AM on November 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

"... Especially jugglers."
posted by bingo at 9:47 AM EST on November 8

I get that, sometimes, until I break into infectious Broadway show tunes. Nobody but sociopaths can hate a juggler singing Oh What a Beautiful Mornin' or Oklahoma!.

Particularly if the avuncular singing juggler is also credibly threatening to mime.
posted by paulsc at 8:42 AM on November 8, 2006

"When I was with Gladstone, I thought he was the most fascinating man in the world. When I was with Disraeli, I thought I was the most fascinating woman in the world. (A young woman who was escorted on different occasions by the two great 19th-century British Prime Ministers)". That quote speaks volumes about personal charm.
posted by jasondigitized at 8:46 AM on November 8, 2006

Thus, I want to know how to meet someone and, within the first few minutes, feel comfortable with them. I want people to almost immediately think of me as, well, a cool guy.

Then recognize that to some people, you will never attain "instant cool" status. First impressions are definitely important but I tend to be cautious until I know more about someone. I'm not going to instantly be your friend, share personal details, sing along at the bar, or trade business cards immediately after meeting you. Many of the people I've met who come off as "cool guys" aren't that deep or are constantly in the phase of assuring others that they are, in fact, cool.

You want to be the guy who impresses others easily and possibly has a gimmick or angle to work. Realize that for some people, this is a turn-off. For the others, they'll probably just remember you for that particular thing -- it's not bad being one-dimensional, but it's not going to gain you much outside of parties and it may hurt your chances should you try to be any deeper.
posted by mikeh at 9:40 AM on November 8, 2006

i think pomegranate has the right idea. I've read a similar thing in a big long interview with the dalai lama - imagine everyone and everything as being your mother, and see how your actions and reactions change. the key is in focusing completely on them. if you're really listening to them, then questions will come automatically. do that from a startpoint of liking that person no matter what and you've got a recipie for a positive little moment.

another way to approach it would be to learn about how actors get good at improv. I heard somewhere that the key to it is in not rejecting any idea or suggestion offered by the other person. you just run with it, and so ideas bounce off each other rather than falling flat.

it sounds like you just need an icebreaker really, I really would have a go at learning a few sleight of hand tricks like paulsc said. I've had a great reaction to some of the ones I've learnt. for several months now I've been honing the revolution coin trick, and it never ceases to kick peoples asses when they see it. one time I was in a club and as some bouncers were asking us to move along I just went to the guy 'wait a sec, watch this', and pulled it off...the guy just went quiet. then two randoms were like 'what did you just do, we didn't see' - they gave me a £1 to vanish, and didn't ask for it back when it did. I ended up borrowing one of their jackets to show them another trick and they were shaking my hand as I left. on other occasions you get stuff like when a random girl bought me a shot after fluffing another trick, and some (albeit mildly wasted) girl getting all coy after I vanished another coin. it gets over that 'hello' bit with a big impact if you do it right, ie. do killer tricks with minimal fluff and wankery. people love to see mad stuff like that and the randomness of it, whether or not it sparks a conversation, is what makes nights (and you) a bit more memorable.
posted by 6am at 4:32 PM on November 8, 2006

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