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Priyanka Kore
Priyanka Kore

Posted on • Updated on

An introvert's guide to making the most of meetups

Meetups are a great place to meet like minded people and share the thoughts and ideas. But honestly, being an introvert at a meetup is NOT fun. You know you wanna learn but you are constantly thinking about, how you are not contributing to any conversation. And just thinking about how intimidating this whole thing is. I am from a foreign country and live in Germany. It's even harder to jump into conversation in a language you barely know.

I just want to clear that, I am not a subject matter expert. I go to a lot of meetups and have personally gone through some problems with talking to people. This is kind of my experience and How I am trying to get over that fear.

It's Okay

  • if you are nervous
  • if you don't know anyone
  • if you just feel like leaving, because you feel nobody's gonna miss you, if you're gone

It's all okay, these things have happened to most people. Just remember, you are here to learn.

  • Find the right meetup for you:
    If you are at a meetup, where you cared about the topic, you will feel like you know the topic or you don't know and are very curious about it. Both of these things can help with starting a conversation

  • Listen attentively:
    Listening sounds so simple yet is very helpful. You become a more active listener: you’re guaranteed to learn more and have a good reason to start a conversation with speakers during or after the event. When you listen to what people are talking about. It is often easier to ask counter questions

  • Body language:
    Maintaining eye contact, having an open posture establishes you as a confident person. Right alignment shows you are interested in a conversation. Greeting people with smile and handshake just sets the tone for whole conversation.

  • Smile:
    It is sometimes very hard to break the ice. In this case, smile goes a long way. If you have met someone at another meetup, just say Hi to people you’ve already met. You’ll be able to politely join conversations and meet more people.

  • Importance of starting the conversation:
    Don't wait around thinking that someone will notice and speak with you. Chances of that happening are very slim. Instead just find a group of people you feel you can talk to. Go over there, introduce yourself, just be curious about the person and about their tech stack and within no time, conversation will flow.

  • Ask a lot of questions:
    If you don’t make your experiences engaging for yourself, you are guaranteed to be bored. Talk to the speaker or the people sitting next to you, whoever. Ask for recommendations for books, websites or other meetups. If you don’t become an active participant in your own learning, don’t be surprised if not much of what you experience is relevant to you.

  • Keep trying:
    Every person is unique. If one approach isn't working for you. Just change the approach and "rinse and repeat" again till you find the right approach for yourself.

So now go out there and get the most learning experience out of the meetup. Here are some of the questions you can start with

  • How did you find this meetup?
  • Is this your first time here?
  • What interesting approach you take to solve a similar problem?
  • Book and website recommendations on the topic

Stay positive and happy Learning!!!

Top comments (11)

eadephill profile image
Phillip Eade

I am also an introvert (with social anxiety) that tries to go to meetups and conferences.

The trick I found was learning to play to my own strengths, meeting and talking to a lot of people completely drains me, so instead of focusing on the big group I try and do smaller interactions with people.
I also learned ( through trial and error) what my limit was and that it is ok to bail when my battery levels are low.

Another thing that made these events easier was realising that my way of networking with people does not have to be the same as what all of my colleagues do, I don't have to turn these events into a number games where we compare how many new business cards we got, I can just be me.

pavi2410 profile image
Pavitra Golchha

I often question myself like what to talk to the other person. I feel I have nothing in the world to talk about and share.

Whenever I come across some people who I am meeting for the first time, I just stay idle and leave after some time, out of embarrassment.

seanmclem profile image

Just ask questions. Lots of people just love to talk about themselves. Asking a question is like dropping a bomb. People will often just talk and talk after. Then, you can create followup questions based on their answers.

Avoid yes or no questions, and don't suggest answers. Like, don't say "where is your office, downtown?"
Suggesting an answer can be a common nervous tick, but it turns the question into a simple yes/no scenario and eliminates conversation.

eadephill profile image
Phillip Eade

I believe that when you are first meeting someone for the first time it is perfectly ok to ask the standard cookie cutter questions like:

  • Where do you work?
  • What tech stack do you work on? (followed up with "That sounds cool, have you been working on anything that you are excited about lately?")
  • What do you think of the event so far?
    • Where are you from?

And so on. The trick is using their response to continue the conversation (and not just listing the questions one after the other).

piyukore06 profile image
Priyanka Kore

That’s really good advice, thanks!

voidjuneau profile image
Juneau Lim • Edited

My favourite two: Ask a lot of questions & Keep trying.
As a super introvert, it took me always one year to get used to it.
Now, people think I'm joking when I say I'm introvert.

I still feel I'm very socially-awkward, however, at least, I care it less now.
This kind of skill helps me greatly to meet amazing people not only through meetup but also at volunteer and conventions.
I used to run away whenever talk has ended, but now the time is running away from me.

Recently heard this old Potluck episode on 13:35 which was something I wish I know earlier.

piyukore06 profile image
Priyanka Kore

Thanks for sharing your ideas..

Even I did run away a bunch of times after the talk. I guess you need a couple of good meetings and then you feel like it’s going to be ok. I am glad things worked out well for you..

_nicovillanueva profile image

Useful not only for meetups, but life in general! :P

piyukore06 profile image
Priyanka Kore

Thanks, I think so too. Especially the point about changing the approach and trying again is something I practice everyday

wlun001 profile image
Wei Lun

Totally relatable!