Jewish young adult events are one of the best ways to meet people in Chicago, but getting the most out of them is a true art form. There can be anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of people, and you never know who might show up.
With YLD's Big Event Fundraiser -- one of, if not the largest, annual Jewish young adult events in Chicago -- just around the corner, we thought we'd offer some tips on how to walk away a winner, whether you're looking to make a romantic connection, or a professional one.
Do: Prep your personal elevator pitch
You'll be introducing yourself a lot and no one has time for a lecture, so get your spiel locked down. You also don't want to accidentally confess your existential quarter life crisis just because someone asks, "so what do you do in life?"
Don't: Talk only about yourself
Calm down there, big macher. If you don't give the people you meet a chance to say enough about themselves, you won't have a chance to find out what you have in common or how you might benefit from building a relationship with them.
Do: Go with a friend
Remember how your parents used to sign you up for new things with a friend? Well, listen to your inner Jewish mother. In these treacherous social waters, you definitely need a swim buddy.
Don't: Just talk to your squad
You can and should bring your whole crew, but you don't need to go to a swanky bar and drop major gelt just to talk to your friends. Get out there and meet people!
Do: Use social and dating apps as a cheat sheet
If you've never thought to yourself, Oh, I recognize that person from [name of dating site/app you're using], you've never been to a Jewish young adult event before. Congrats! Don't let that catch you off guard. Use your apps (preferably beforehand) to better direct your time and energy, or to avoid wasting it.
Don't: Expect not to see anyone you know
Your days of showing up at a bar or social gathering and seeing no one you know are over. You want to be anonymous? Move to Arkansas. Time to embrace who you are and not be ashamed of who you were.
Do: Eat something ahead of time
Even if your event provides food, the last thing you want to do is be the person hovering over the snack table wolfing down mini hotdogs because you haven't eaten all day.
Don't: Take more alcohol than you're entitled to
At these events, "getting your money's worth" is about how many new connections you make; it's not a contest to see how many bottles of wine you can swipe and down before the open bar ends. Nobody's impressed.
Do: Bring business cards
You're a grownup now, get a business card or something with your name and email on it. This is also very handy for giving out your contact information to people you might want to "connect with later" … professionally, of course.
Don't: Bring a bag of your stuff
You should not only avoid bringing your emotional baggage to a young adult event, but also your actual baggage. There is nowhere for you to store your work bag, gym bag or any bag, especially at a bar night. Plan accordingly.
Do: Wear your name tag
If your event has name tags, wear yours. And proudly too, near your face -- you're not a teenager anymore. Also, if someone who should know your name peeks at it, forgive them. This is your new chance to make a more memorable impression on them.
Don't: Make stuff up about yourself
You know that person you just met? They know someone who knows you. There's no getting away with that stuff. Pretend this is high school and word travels fast. (Heck, half the people you went to high school with are probably at this event anyway.)
Do: Be nice to the staff
If it wasn't for the people who organized this event, you would home on the couch watching Netflix and bemoaning your social life. Treat them well, and maybe even get to know them; they're more well-connected than probably anyone else at the event.
Don't: Use pickup lines, especially bad Jewish ones
No one wants to come with you to the Promised Land.
Do: Check your teeth
There are times checking your teeth a lot borders on paranoia, but an event where you're meeting new people and making an impression is not one of them. Compulsive teeth-checking is definitely understandable, especially if you didn't eat ahead of time ...
Don't: Get really drunk
Please just don't. You're an adult; if you need to get wasted you can do it much more cheaply and not in front of dozens of people you know and dozens more people who know people you know. It also reflects poorly on the organization or group that hosted the event, and that's just rude.
Do: Make a getaway plan
Know exactly how you plan to get home, and set a time to check-in with a friend about leaving. It can be hard to determine when enough is enough, and you don't want to get caught in an awkward situation.
Don't: Wait until the day of the event to register
Something better will not come up, so be an adult and commit to something. You don't want to deal with the hassle of waiting at the door and paying more money, or finding that online registration closed. Be the trendsetter and take control of your social life!
Speaking of registering ahead of time, you should sign up for YLD's Big Event Fundraiser featuring comedian Hannibal Buress on 12/12/15!