The BILT Guide to making friends
BILT NA is over, but BILT Europe is just around the corner. How to keep the excitement going? Well for myself, I thought I would write this short guide to making friends at BILT. I would say “networking” instead of making friends, but it sounds like a horrific real-life version of LinkedIn where the first thing people ask is what you do and who you work for, evaluate whether you are worth conversing with, and move on as rapidly as humanly possible.
Why make friends instead? Well for one thing, it’s more fun. Friends are also more likely to help you than random “connections” with that one problem driving you mad at work, provide someone to bounce new ideas off of, and will help you meet more like-minded people. Which is half the point of BILT!
- Make one new friend
I officially challenge you to make one new friend. Just start talking to someone in the airport clearly going to BILT (AU backpack is a dead giveaway), while eating in the conference hall or (perhaps most easily) at the bar. Once you have one person to chat with, it’s going to feel a heck of a lot easier meeting more people.
Similarly, if you are lucky enough to have the safety net of travelling with colleagues, or already know a few people there, make the conscious effort to cut your apron strings at least once day and reach out to someone new. Maybe someone reached out to you when you flew solo at BILT and it made a world of a difference. Pay it forward and reap the benefits of expanding your friend circle.
- Everyone is just as intimidated as you
I used to be rather shy about going up to new people at these events. Until I learned the truth: everyone is just as intimidated / shy as you! Let’s be honest, we’re all a little geeky. At BILT, that makes you officially a cool kid 😎. Own it. Just start talking to someone. We have a nice community full of nice people. Don’t believe me? We’re even talking about shyness on the Twittersphere:
- The social activities
The BILT committee make a huge effort to make it easier to connect new people: the social activities. Not only are the events themselves entertaining (Moesgaard museum was somehow dark, educational and dare I say sexy?!), they provide a more casual setting conducive to striking up conversation. A beverage or two never hurt for providing a little liquid courage, either.
On the roof at Moesgaard Museum with friend and colleague (for full disclosure) Byron Starnes.
I only truly “got” Twitter at my first BILT (then RTC) in Vancouver back in 2013. Searching the hashtag of the event, I could see everything that was going on, from the class content, to the exhibit hall, to finding colleagues after hours! If you’re not on Twitter, I highly recommend getting on there and following a few events, companies, and BIM superheroes you like to start with. Odds are high at BILT you may end up sitting next to that same BIM superhero at midnight!
Twitter is also the ONLY social platform where you can follow complete strangers and it’s ok. Not just ok but encouraged. You can start talking with them and start a real relationship (disclaimer – I have left it ‘til pointer no. 4 to reveal that I am a shameless marketeer 😉).
- PSA on profile pictures
For the love of all that is good and great, please use your real face as your Twitter profile picture during an event. Avatars, beloved pets, crazy filters, and cartoon versions of you are awesome (and great brand recognition!): until someone is trying to meet you at an event. Change it back after the event if you REALLY want. We all dislike pictures of ourselves but please: real pictures. You can be mistaken for a lot of things, including a member of the opposite sex: true story.
Storytime sidebar – Last week I missed the opportunity to make a new connection, largely because of an avatar. The gentleman concerned seemed to also be on my incredibly delayed flight. Ordinarily I would have gone up to him in real life and asked him if he wanted to share a taxi with two of us. But not knowing his face, DMing saying something like “I’ll be the woman in the red dress at baggage reclaim” at 3am just seemed a tad creepy. I saw yesterday that he had worked for an old client of mine; we could have had a great meeting / catch-up. *-Avatar rant over-*
I hope you take my advice to heart and make some awesome new friends at BILT Europe 2018. And remember, exhibitors are people too – we love making new friends!
See you there,