Lachlan's avatar@lachlanjc/notebook

How to meet Twitter friends IRL

Who do you meet? People who are cool in whatever city in you’re in/going to next! Anyone whose work you respect, or came from a similar background, anyone you want to be friends with.

How do you express interest? You just DM people that you’re around (having time pressure—when you’re in town only for a few days—often helps make something actually happen) & want to get coffee if they’re into it! Sometimes they don’t, & you shouldn’t ever push for meeting a stranger who doesn’t know you. But especially right now, people usually do!

How do you schedule the time/place? I usually give either the time or the place, then ask them for the other. That way, the appointment doesn’t feel thrust on them, or like you’re making them do all the legwork.

  • For location, I mention which neighborhood I live in & the neighborhood I work in, but offer to walk/bike/transit to wherever they are, & especially if I haven’t been to their neighborhood, I try for that so I can see new places.
  • For time, most people don’t want optional social obligations in the morning, so I wouldn’t schedule before 11am. 11:30–1:30 is lunch, 1:30–3:30 is coffee, 3:30–5:30 is juice/boba, 5:30–7:30 is dinner, but a bakery or ice cream place would be my go-to at other times of day.
  • People are usually a few minutes late to social meetups, so you can be a minute or two late, but if you initiated the hangout, it’s bad form to show up late.

How do you actually hang out? That’s the hard part to make great!

  • I’m indecisive/bad at multitasking in social situations, so I always look up the menu of the place we’re going beforehand to decide what to get so I’m not stressed looking at the menu. (Or if you’re getting coffee, have a standby drink; I get an iced oat milk latte in warm weather & hot dirty chai in the cold.)
  • When they ask how you are, never ever say “good” or something—small talk is the enemy to having a fruitful conversation. I always say a whole bunch of things about what’s going on in my life & say it kinda fast to establish a vibe that oversharing & energy are welcome in the conversation, plus it gives them jumping off points to talk/ask about.
  • Dig into their work, usually at the beginning. Summarize what you understand of their work, & ask about it. People can easily talk about their work & usually feel more confident in that, so it’s an easier place to start.
  • Having a few conversation-starters in your back pocket is good; if nothing comes to mind, I’ll ask something like “what makes you come alive” (or a variation like “what do you do that’s not for capitalism” if that’s their energy) or “what are you looking forward to,” but you have to find something natural. Silence/awkward breaks are the absolute worst. A few hours before I meet someone, I start thinking about questions I’m curious to hear from them about. Remembering those in the moment can be hard, but can make the conversation go way better, since often the most interesting topics to discuss are ones people don’t naturally bring up.
  • Asking for people’s life story, in however much detail they want to share, is always fun. I’ve got a version of mine that takes like 3 minutes. Mildly stalking people online beforehand to find potential points of overlap can make for fun nuggets in a conversation.
  • When someone asks a question that’s not a specific response, it often reveals something about them too. So ask questions back—people have a great time if they talk a lot, me included! Plus, it’s “free” material to keep things going.
  • If there’s not either uproarious laughter or getting into deep ideas at at least a few moments in the conversation, I usually find that means it didn’t work well enough to meet up again. That’s okay!
  • If you never share enough about yourself/it’s not very interesting, they won’t be intrigued enough to do it again. Make sure you dig into a topic from your life or your philosophy on something deeply enough to get somewhere non-cliché. If you’re meeting via Twitter, the role Twitter plays in both of your lives is always a great subject to dig into.
  • I always prompt taking a selfie at the end, but always get consent for how/where you might post it.

Learning to carry on conversations takes years & meeting a ton of people to get good at…I’m finally feeling like I can usually carry conversations well but I’ve been working on it actively for years. If you meet some people & you clam up or the conversation goes awkward or whatever, so be it. It’s not an easy or natural skill for most people!