By now The Netherlands, Belgium and the rest of Europe are filled with conventions, but also with varrious (cosplay) meetings where likeminded people gather. If you don’t know that many people whos hare your interests, visiting one of these events is something you should consider. But how do you manage to make friends with them?
Because of the search words “How do you make friends at anime conventions” which brought someone to AVO Magazine, the idea of making a whole article of handy tips for meeting people who you can label as friend afterwards came to mind. But what options are there exactly?
Not so easy?
I admit: it’s not that easy to make new friends at events like these. A lot of the visitors are already going with someone, or even a whole group of friends who go to a convention together. And then all those pretty cosplayers. If you just started out with cosplaying yourself or don’t dare to put one on it can be quite intimidating to see all those people walking around. And then the threshold to start a conversation with someone just got a lot higher. I’m speaking out of experience, even I think it’s difficult to start talking to people after all this time.
Big or small?
The first tip that I’m going to give you is the following: start with visiting small(er) conventions. These conventions are more cosy and it’s easier to make new contacts there than at large conventions like AnimeCon. Still, it’s possible to make friends at both large and small conventions.
But talking to someone about the awesome cosplay and asking for a photo or selfie can be agood start already. The cosplayer put a lot of work into their costume themselves, and it’s a compliment when someone wants to take a picture with them. And it’s even better if you let the person know that they did a great job on their costume. If you want to know more about their character or the cosplay you can ask them if you want. With most cosplayers, you’ll notice that they really appreciate these kinds of things.
Participate in activities
A tip that pops up more often is participating in the speed dates during conventions. You don’t have to take these speed date sessions seriously in the slightest. He’s a good method to get to know people in a quick and easy way. During such a session you’ll see a lot of new faces, but you can introduce yourself and share your interests. You can prepare yourself for this in advance by writing down some things about yourself. Aside from that, you can think about the questions you want to ask the people who take place in front of you. If it’s someone who’s cosplaying a character you can bring that up too. There’s a good chance that you’ll have a few contacts which you’ll speak to after the convention is over, and maybe even agree to meet again for future conventions or (cosplay) meetings.
Another tip is going to the game room to well, game. That might sound pretty individual, but at a lot of conventions, the games offered are multiplayer. Play a game against someone, it can bring you stuff to talk about during or after the game. And maybe you’ll join that person for more games afterwards too.
All in all, this remains a good tip: participate in the activities that are offered during conventions. Think about games like “Weerwolven” and “Silent Library”, workshops and lectures. You can always talk to the people sitting next to you, especially if you have something to say about what’s happing during an activity like this. I once joined a workshop where I had to write something on a piece of paper. Papers and pens will always be passed from front to back, so you will make contact with the people sitting in front of you and the ones behind you. The activity can give you a topic for conversation, and maybe you don’t even have to start to talk someone, but someone will talk to you.
Step into the magical world of the dealer room
Go to the dealer room and walk around. There are enough fun things to find which you can buy, or just look at. It’s not that strange to me anymore, but I always try to start a little chat with most dealers. Mostly during the more quiet moments.
During a search for fun things, you can also talk to people who are shopping. Even if it is about the stuff they bought or are about to buy. I have to say though, with me it usually stays with pointing to a product and saying I like it, or I think it’s awesome that they bought it. You can always ask: Where did you buy that manga? A whole conversation is often hard to maintain, and sometimes it remains solely with complimenting the cosplay.
Waiting queue conversations
What happens a lot during a convention is that you have to stand in line for the tickets, cloakroom, food, and certain large events. People are standing in front of you, and behind you. That’s the moment to talk to people. Complimenting the cosplay is an idea. Asking the time is also a way to start a conversation. If you’re waiting for let’s say a cosplay competition or a performance it might be easier to talk to people, because you’re waiting together for a certain activity during the convention. What happened to me sometimes is that I heard people talking about a band and that I jumped right in. The person liked to hear that they weren’t the only one who liked the band. This can also be a certain anime which that person is following at the moment, or discussing the photos you’ve made of certain cosplays.
Going alone or not?
For the ones who don’t know anyone at conventions it can be rather tricky to go there alone. But I will advise you to do it anyway. The chance of meeting someone new is really high, and it even happened to me that I run into someone I knew at a convention while I never knew they liked Japan-related things. Aside from that I can tell you that I started going to conventions by myself. You might not be able to imagine it, but usually I still go alone to conventions.
During the convention, I run into people I know and I hang out with them for a while, go to activities or shopping in the dealerroom. There’s no reason to feel alone at conventions, because there are people with similar interests walking around. One is easier to talk to than the other, but still we all like meeting new people and hanging out with them. This message is aimed at self initiative mainly, but who knows, you might run into people who start talking to you! As long as you are open for meeting new people there’s a big cance you’ll leave the convention with several new friends.
In conclusion, all tips shortlisted:
1. Start with visiting smaller conventions.
2. Talk to someone about their cosplay and take a picture.
3. Take part in speed dates (and don’t take it too seriously).
4. Go to the game room and play against someone.
5. Take part in activities like games or workshops.
6. Go to the dealer room and talk to dealers.
7. Talk to shoppers about their newly bought items: “What a nice manga! Where did you buy that?”
8. Waiting in line? Excellent moment to start talking.
9. Going alone? Just go! Don’t let anyone stop you!
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find anyone to join you to conventions. Go and make friends!
Which tips do you have to add to this list?