The focus of our site is primarily on how to connect with like minded geeks via online dating, but we also actively encourage getting out into the world and meeting people face to face.
With GDG boss lady E. Foley at GenCon this week and a flurry of other conventions happening across North America (I’ll be at Toronto’s Fan Expo next week – come say hi at the Nerd Girl Burlesque booth), I wanted to touch on the right and wrong ways to go about meeting fellow geeks at conventions.
Let me preface everything else that I’m about to say with this simple fact – you should never go to a convention treating it like a means to an end to meet women or men. If that is your primary intention, you’ll probably come across as skeevy or worse – predatory.
Instead, if you go to conventions because of your love of your fandoms and then happen to meet some awesome people along the way, it’s a bonus. If approached with the right mindset and attitude, conventions can be a great place to meet people with similar interests.
Here’s some simple Dos and Don’ts to help you navigate interacting with new people, starting friendships and even possibly meeting someone special at a convention:
DON’T: Act entitled to their time, or conversation
First and foremost, know that no one owes you anything. Even if you try to strike up a conversation, the other person may simply may not feel comfortable or may be entirely disinterested. If someone gives you the brush off or is unresponsive they may seem rude, but it’s far ruder to try to force a conversation. Don’t take it personally, just move on.
DO: Introduce yourself and smile
Remember when your mom told you were never fully dressed without a smile? It’s very true and it will make you seem more approachable and friendly. Even if you’re a bit introverted, try to step outside of your comfort zone. Yes, it can be scary to approach people you don’t know but if you can summon just 15 seconds of courage, namely to introduce yourself to someone and flash a genuine smile, it can be all it takes to get a conversation rolling.
DON’T: Make assumptions
This goes for pretty much any social situation you will ever find yourself in, but never make assumptions about another person’s availability, sexual orientation or really anything else about them. The conversation might be going really well but that doesn’t mean he or she is single, or looking for a relationship, or even that they are attracted to your gender, let alone you. They might just be friendly and enjoy speaking to someone who has the same interests.
If a conversation is going well, feel free to offer the person you are speaking with your contact information. Giving them a business card it perfect, it’s non-threatening and leaves the decision up to them as to whether they will reach out or not.
DO: Good grooming & hygiene
Most people already know all of this and really it should be a no-brainer, but please be considerate with your grooming and hygiene. Have a daily shower with soap, wear clean clothes, brush your teeth, comb your hair and wear deodorant.
You don’t need to go overkill on perfume or cologne (in fact, I’d recommend skipping it, many people are allergic). Just make sure you are relatively tidy looking and non-smelly and it will go a long way towards making new friends. Conventions are often crowded, get stinky easily and we all need to do our part to minimize con-funk.
DON’T: be a cosplay creeper
Again, a lot of these things really should be common sense, but I beg you to read this article about how cosplay does not equal consent. People in costume, disproportionately women, suffer a huge amount of harassment at some fandom conventions.
Just to boil it down the main points: never take a photo of someone without asking first – even if they are in costume. Don’t touch anyone without asking first, even if you are posing for a photo together. Never take a photo that isolates one part of the cosplayer’s body.
Don’t make comments about how “hot”, “pretty”, “beautiful” or “sexy” someone is. Do not make comments on someone’s physical appearance, period. It’s great to tell someone you like their costume, but it’s not okay to say that their breasts look great or that you like their legs. It’s also not okay to tell someone they shouldn’t be wearing a certain costume.
DO: Listen and be respectful
A good conversationalist knows when to shut up and listen. Really listening to what others are saying to you requires having an open mind and seeing how the conversation naturally flows.
Be willing to accept other people’s experiences, opinions and thoughts as valid, even if they differ from your own. If you have differences of opinions, don’t get angry. If you cannot discuss your viewpoint in a calm fashion, excuse yourself and walk away.
Mind your manners, don’t swear excessively, remember to say please and thank you and let others speak without interrupting. Treat everyone you meet at conventions with respect and dignity.
DON’T: challenge someone’s “nerd cred”
Just because someone may not know as much random trivia about classic Doctor Who as you does not mean their geekiness is fake or illegitimate. Like most things in life – to each their own – especially when it comes to fandom. If someone is at a convention there’s a reason for it, either they are a fan or they are working, or both.
Their interests may not be the same as yours but it doesn’t make them any less legitimate. One of the most knowledgeable comic book fans I know has never seen Star Wars, but she could tell you more about Dazzler (of X-Men) than you’d probably ever really wanted to know.
You are not the geek/nerd police and it’s not your place to challenge anyone’s “nerd cred”. It’s not your place to judge if anyone should be at a convention. See also, this fantastic video from The Doubleclicks.
DO: Go to speed dating events
If you are actively seeking a romantic connection at a convention, the only place that it’s ever okay to assume that others are also looking for dates is at a designated speed-dating event. Many conventions are now running this type of programming.
E.Foley is facilitating geek speed dating at GenCon tomorrow, if you’re there and interested in meeting some other singles!
Have you had any luck meeting new people or getting dates at conventions? What worked for you? How do you handle wanted or unwanted attention and flirting at conventions? Leave us your comments below.
Can’t make it Gen Con and need some extra help to meet awesome geeks? We’re here to help you every step of the way with our online dating help services.