Meeting new people can be hard enough, let alone leaving them with the impression that you’re friend material. Fortunately, there’s a lot less pressure if you do it online. Random video chats like CamSurf have been growing in popularity for years now, especially lately with all the social distancing recommendations. It might not be as fun as hanging out at the local pizza place with your posse, but who knows – you might end up wondering how you survived so long without giving video chats a try!
What are the ground rules, anyway? First of all, each random video chat site will have some terms and conditions – it’s best to give those a read so you don’t accidentally get kicked off for breaking the rules. After that, it’s pretty much up to you. Users on most sites can skip from chat to chat until they find someone who seems like they’re worth talking to, so some interesting talking points will improve your chances of getting more matches.
A quick word to the wise – not everyone you’ll end up chatting with has good intentions, so be cautious about the personal details you give out.
If you don’t get paired up right away, don’t sweat it – you have all the time in the world to adjust your strategy. Just make sure you look basically presentable, optimize your lighting if you can, and make the background look interesting if possible. When someone shows up on your screen, do the standard smile-and-wave greeting, and introduce yourself (no last names, for safety reasons). After that, it’s time for your personality to shine – with the help of these six tips.
- Show interest by asking questions
The idea is to have two-way conversations, but everyone’s basically there for themselves – this isn’t an outreach effort for the under-socialized, after all. If you want them to know that you’re interested in possibly being friends, asking a few questions is a great way to get the conversation going. The questions should be about them, but definitely avoid getting too personal. You don’t want to seem invasive, or like you’re trying to steal their identity. Questions about whether they have siblings or pets, what their interests are, etc. are a good place to start.
- See who’s chatting at 1 AM
One of the appealing aspects of using a random video chat website is that you can meet people from all over the world. What about the people who live in drastically different time zones, though? You won’t run into too many of them – unless you hop online at unusual hours.
You don’t have to pull an all-nighter just so you can see what’s up in Singapore. Instead, you could simply rearrange your schedule a bit so that your video chatting happens at the very end or very beginning of your day – that should overlap with people from all different time zones.
Or…you could actually log on at 1 AM, just to see who’s there.
- Bring along a friend, a pet, or a project you’ve been working on
If you aren’t feeling up to being the main attraction, get something that’ll steal the show. Invite a friend who’s way more of a people-person than you are – you might even learn a thing or two about how to converse with strangers.
If you have a pet (and if they’re willing to stay still for a while), include them in the introductions. Just get ready for your pet to be more popular than you are.
If neither of those are an option, try a little show-and-tell with your latest project. That could be a painting, a personal accessory, or a homemade apple pie that you just pulled out of the oven. Whatever you’ve got on hand, it can be a handy ice-breaker, as well as a way to show your personality.
- Pick a specific country to learn about
There’s just something about cultural exchange that gets the conversation flowing. If someone knows that you’re specifically interested in learning about their home country, chances are they’ll probably spend at least a few minutes sharing some cool facts with you.
As you meet more and more people from that country, you’ll have better talking points. You might discover that you were told something that supposedly applied to the whole country, but was actually only regional. You could swap your grandmothers’ recipes, and talk about which holidays you celebrate. You won’t just know more about a certain country; you’ll have learned about it from first-hand stories.
- Start with an attention-grabber
You might find that you’re struggling with getting peoples’ attention in the first few seconds of a video chat. Even if you aren’t a boring person in real life, if you come off as clueless or unmotivated, you could get passed over more often than you deserve.
That’s where the gimmicky lines come in. Give people something that they’ll recognize, and something that they’ll want to participate in. Things like “truth or dare” or “would you rather” questions could draw people in; you could also offer a quick contest of who has the worst pickup line or dad joke.
- Dress up as your favorite character to spark a conversation
Fanbases of every description exist all over the world, and you never know who you could end up nerding out with. You could go the cosplay route, or even stay in-character throughout the random chats. Or, you might end up putting together a quick homemade costume, throwing out some quotes, and asking people to guess who you are. Either way, you’re sure to find someone who loves the same character as you.
Random video chatting is only as hard as you want it to be.
There’s virtually no prep, and nobody cares if you’re having a bad hair day. There are degrees of know-how, but you’ll get a feel for that as you go along. The best strategy is to just start chatting, and hope for the best!