Wednesday 22 June 2011 – Small and big group people
Since we moved our expat meetup from Friday nights to Thursday nights, I can see the significant drop out of people: We used to be approx 150 people and now we barely get over 30 people. I am not really sure the day change is a major factor because I know some other meetups occur on Wednesdays such as the Get2gether or Internations and they are very successful (approx 150 people each time). Plus I do recommend them to my fellow expats, so there is no hard feelings ...
But I have to admit there is a critical mass you need to reach if you want the word of mouth to start operating. From my personal experience, I would say it is approx 50 people. Upon that limit, people will start to refer it from word of mouth. But if you never pass that symbolic mark, it will stay a small thing (i.e no more than 30 people)...
Which is not that bad, depending on your personality. Some people would need to see a crowded place and get out with at least ten phone numbers to consider it as a worthwhile night. Some are just happy to stick to one person all night long and have quality time with this person, even if there is no particular interest involved (i.e romantic). That’s the way certain people deal with their shyness or their anti-sociability. It is all a matter of where you stand and where you feel the most comfortable with and how you network the most efficiently.
Considering that an article from the University of Indiana made the analysis that a human being has a physical networking limit located between 100 and 200 people (let’s say 150). Above this limit, it is impossible to keep track with 200 real life friends and maintain them appropriately. That’s why some people complain, making friends is a long process, but I would like to say that people with a “better” networking capabilities don’t necessarily get better quality referrals from their network. Example: Myself. Some people come to me thinking I have a spread out network of people when they ask me if I can find them a job, a visa, a flat or a partner due to my networking events... The truth is that when you are the host, you don’t really get quality time with your guests since you are running everywhere. Plus I would use the database of e-mails since I would been unable to link one e-mail to a particular position or power... As one of my guest says: “ It is better to have 15 reliable people you can count on, that 150 people you cannot rely on”. Some people prefer quality, some other quantity. My opinion is quality.
If I could make a link between the Aussie and French culture, I would say the pub culture would be a good fit for big people group: they can move around, stay superficial and invite as many people as they want, without any hurdle. They don’t really stick to one particular close group of friends and have a lot of acquaintances they would see on a casual basis. For the small people group, I would say they are more comfortable with the table culture, because it forces you to have a good chat with your neighbours. It also means you have to choose your people and the expectations are much higher in term of involvement. Hence the higher proportion of deception when the relationship ceases.
Being overseas forces you to find the fine line between your survival instinct to get friends and accepting the fact that you have your own networking skills limit. Small or big group people, the comment is always the same I hear time after time: you always need a good friend.