I have an old friend staying with me at the moment. A former colleague from London, she has been travelling for the last 9 months in which time she has very much become the free spirited backpacker, not afraid to approach anyone and strike up a conversation naturally about anything that comes to mind.
Her chatty nature and ability to create conversations from thin air got me thinking about two things, one – how impressed I was at how many cute guys she easily managed to break the ice with and, more importantly, how did she do it?
Sharing experiences and connections makes us happy, and we are spoiled by the technology available to continue that connection but what about the conversation itself? Where does it all start and how do we keep it going?
Through observations, whilst also trying to pick up a few tips, I saw most interactions seemed to fall into the following pattern.
We create things to stimulate conversations every day. Both with the people we have in our lives and also strangers we encounter on our paths who can surprise us by bringing a little bit of delight into our day
like a taxi driver who can do magic tricks. (video credit @victom)
But how do you ignite a great chat?
At a recent music festival we went to, conversations tended to start around one of the following.
-A remarkable prop, aka a social object. (Saturday was fancy dress day, this made making new friends very easy)
- A remarkable event (The highlight acts)
- Sharing something in common (There were a lot of British people at said festival)
- Needing information (Amazing how many guys didn’t know either the what the time was or what band were on next)
All talking points that allow us to forge a connection with another person and make new friends.
Another method, favoured by those of us a little too daunted to always be the one doing the approaching – is to project things about yourself that will intrigue others, i.e. tagging yourself with shortcuts that will say something about you that people can tap into. Like tattoos or badges, haircuts, jewellery, band t-shirts, a link to a video we put on our facebook wall. Things that say something about who we are and what we are about that might allow someone to see we have something in common or at least intrigue enough to initiate contact.
We all want to connect, but the first move can be scary. Her advice to me from months of hostel living was ‘if you see someone you want to talk to, think about your way in, be brave and just do it.’ I can vouch this approach was certainly more effective than just smiling in someone’s general direction, I did start to think – what’s the worst that could happen? Plus you never know what that contact in itself may produce.
Somewhere throughout the weekend I realised my mate’s conversations with others were now forming the basis for most of our conversations with each other. i.e. those connections were deemed good enough to become a talking points themselves.
Girls in particular love to talk about our connections and experiences with other people. As a result one great 5 minute conversation with a guy in a fairy costume could become the basis of hours of conversations with 20 other people. We naturally amplify to create more conversation to connect with others.
My favourite kind of shared experiences that are most deserved of amplification are weddings. (Also a good place to make new friends). Being invited to be at someone’s wedding is the ultimate demonstration of sharing in their happiness and now there are so many ways to connect to truly get the most out of the happy day in the lead up, the day itself and post in our sharing of videos, photographs and memories. These one day events provide conversations for months and even years.
The social media effect amplification potential for weddings is massive. So far I’ve been to one wedding with its own #hashtag and used facebook groups to plan bridesmaid dresses and duties and like many re-connected with other guests after being tagged in photos together – so its good to see and Mashable have even written a social media wedding etiquette guide for ‘proper’ usage.
Amplification is fun and allows others who weren’t involved share in and know about the event and well as keeping the it alive for longer. As the wedding guide points out however, the broadcast nature of social media means we do have to consider the implications of our sharing and the stories we choose to tell.
So we’ve ignited the spark, shared the experience, amplified the event for all its worth so when is it time to call it a day and move on and find something or someone new to talk about?
This area I find particularly interesting, particular in relation to the digital world we now live in. Do we hold onto connections and shared experiences longer than we should now? Does the internet unhealthily encourage us?
They say the lifespan of a tweet is 48 hours, max – but once a tweet is out there, theoretically it lives forever.
I am currently reading ‘Delete – The Virtue of Forgetting in a Digital World”. It raises some interesting points about the fact that, unlike us humans the digital world never forgets.
One of the books points is that our minds don’t really ever forget things. But unprompted memories are stored in a back catalogue of our mind that isn’t accessed, unless stimulated. Prompted to come back to the forefront of our minds.
Forgetting used to be the default, but now in a world where remembering is automatic. We are constantly confronted with our past and have easy access to delve back into whenever we want to. Denying us the human need to evolve and move on. Facebook Photo Memories is a prime offender of this.
Whilst it’s great the digital world allows us to reminisce more easily and keep the conversation going, like that ex-boyfriend your mates are sick of hearing about. It’s important to know when its time to stop talking.
PICK UP TECHNIQUES AND MARKETING?
So, this whole thought started out as an observation on how to meet hot men. But again my worlds of dating and marketing seem to have collided and I think there are some useful lessons to consider here for develop a new product, messages or creative ideas. How do we start a conversation? Is it good enough to amplify? How are we facilitating that? When it is time to move on and do something new?
So, the key lessons I learnt from watching my mate pick up guys?
– Know your target
– Look for and show shortcuts to facilitate connection
– Be remarkable
– Have the courage to make the first move
– Amplify to continue the experience and connection.
– Know your lifespan
– Remember to forget
Lastly, just enjoy it, because isn’t sharing experiences with others that make us happy really what it’s all about?