Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Organised Socials - How I Prepare Myself

Over the Christmas to New Year period I stumbled upon a website that organised events for people who simply wanted to find new friends and meet new people in their area. Seeing that it was possible to go to an event simply by signing up, without having to go through the hoops of online networking with someone first, I bravely decided to join this group, and went to my first event the evening of Tuesday, January 12.

(I will be posting more on comments on socials with this group. However in order to protect people's identities I will not name the group, but I will refer to this group's events here and in future posts as "organised socials.")

The event was a catch-all meet up in a pub, and was one of those events specifically geared for new members. I was, like most people, very nervous about going. But I did go and ended up having an OK evening, though not a fantastic one. However I have since been to several more organised socials. I've had a really good time at some, others have been more of a struggle. So far the number of organised socials I've been to is something in the teens, and the majority have been simple meet-ups in pubs.

Having Asperger's means that the business of social interaction is more difficult for me than for others. However I am not shy as such, and I can go up and talk to almost anyone. I decided before my first event that I would be wise to do my pre-social homework, which was as follows:
  • Look on the website to see who was going to the event, and what the people said about themselves, their job, hobbies, interests etc. Make a note on paper of anything you could ask them when you talk.
  • Prepare beforehand how you will introduce yourself to others, practice on your own approaching a new person confidently with a "Hi, I'm Chris...."
  • Prepare beforehand what you will say about yourself when someone asks you. Think of things you may have in common with other people that could be talking points, often just general things, like TV programmes.
This was not intended to be a formula that must be followed, but I used it as a safeguard to hopefully fall back upon if I became unstuck in a conversation. If I can have a good chat with someone without remembering any notes, then great! As it happened, on this first organised social I was quite overawed with the situation and all these new people, and I couldn't remember faces from the profile pictures, so I never used my notes, but having done the preparations no doubt helped me feel more comfortable at the event.

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