Why you’re not allowed to share your contact details at Dinner with New Friends

If you haven’t heard of it, Dinner with New Friends is my own little way of making New York City a little smaller and a little more friendly for those who live here:

10 people who have never met each other all sit down to dinner with me (Josh) and have a chance to make some new friends, share some stories, and exchange tips and tricks that they’ve picked up along their way. The guests range from people who have just arrived in the city (in fact, one guest had only been in the city for one day) all the way through to people who have lived here their whole lives! Interested? Sign up, because it’s free!

One thing you might not know about the events though is that you aren’t allowed to share your contact details with anyone else at dinner… and there are two reasons for that.

#1 Business networking sucks

If you’ve ever been to a business networking event, you’ll know what I mean. You arrive, you grab a drink to keep your hands occupied, and you then proceed to start slinging business cards at people before they can hit you with theirs. It sucks.

I’ve written articles before about how to network in New York (and then a follow-up because I missed a few things according to one reader) and I think it’s an important skill to have and an important thing to do but it can be painful. I wanted Dinner with New Friends to be something unique where there are three simple rules:

  1. You’re not there to do business;
  2. You’re not there to date anyone (more about that below); and
  3. You’re just coming to make some friends and enjoy dinner.

It sounds simple but it’s important to outline it at the start.

By telling people this, there’s an understanding of what is expected of them and means that everyone arrives with the same idea in their head.

But even more importantly is reason number two for why you’re not allowed to share your contact details:

#2 Your comfort and safety

Going to an event with a group of strangers can be scary!

You’re sat down next to someone, served some guacamole, and immediately you start to talk and ask about everything from the weather to your family, and sometimes the person you’re speaking to isn’t exactly your type of person.

From the beginning I wanted every type of person to feel welcome at Dinner with New Friends. I for one am an outgoing person who loves to talk and meet as many people as I possibly can, but there are lots of people who are nothing like me. Those people would much prefer to sit down next to one person, and really get to know them over dinner, and that is fine!

By telling people they’re not allowed to share their contact details, they can feel more comfortable to come along in the first place, and more comfortable to open up a little more about themselves. If the person they’re speaking to comes across as a little creepy, then there’s no issue saying “Sorry, I can’t share my cell number, Josh told me not to!”

Does this mean I never hear from these people again?

No! Of course not!

I want to create friendships and communities, so here’s what happens. After the dinner, I reach out to you and ask whether you’re comfortable sharing your contact details with the group. If you are, you get an email with everyone’s details! If you aren’t, I can connect you with an individual (with their permission of course) and you can continue building your friendship in private.

Join me for dinner!

Does that all sound fun? Well, I’d love to have you at Dinner with New Friends, so be sure to sign up!

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