Thanks Sofera for an awesome header photo! I remember attending my first Bellerose Convention (one of the local high school’s anime events) for the first time in my original Nozomi kigurumi cosplay. I didn’t know anyone and was fairly new to the community in general. This was the event that Meph and I first “met” each other. We didn’t officially talk, but it was where Meph first saw me footballing around my kig head between wearing it.
My outfit was really basic, and the tights most Kigurumi cosplayers wear were very basic and had a nasty shine to the material in flash photos. But I still had a lot of fun. I poked my head into the EGL fashion room and made some casual conversation about the neat outfits with the people in there. These early conversations would lay the groundwork to me seeing Meph and her friends more and more at local events.
Which brings me to the key takeaways when attending your first event:
- Be curious. Ask people about the things they are into. People love talking about what they are interested in. Show interest, and you’ll be amazed at the interesting people and connections you can make at these events.
- Be polite but friendly. Most of us have a difficult time having a stranger open up and share their deepest thoughts with us, but we are open to talking about immediately obvious things like cosplays from series we love, or questions about a unique aspect of an outfit.
There are some things that can be done today that weren’t even an option when I first started cosplaying, such as if you are nervous about approaching cosplayers, if you follow them online either through facebook or instagram, you can send them a message ahead of going to say hi. Most cosplayers love talking to fans, if you are nervous about approaching, messaging them over social media can make that first hello less awkward.
On the topic of being awkward, most of us are nerds who are very passionate about hobbies that often set us apart from our regular day peers. It is ok to be somewhat awkward at events. What is key is some humility and humour. Acknowledge with strangers that you’re a little nervous but you really want to make connections with others. Most people appreciate the honesty, and really most of us are also just as nervous to make conversation with people we don’t know a whole lot about. What makes making friends a whole lot easier is recognizing that most of us have our struggles in social situations but cons are where we go to be around others who are into the same things as us. What have you done to make conversation and friends at conventions? Have you messaged someone over social media ahead of going up and saying hello face to face? Share what has made you nervous about meeting people and how you overcame it in the comments below, or send me your story at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you.