Here I am, less than 24h in Bogotà before flying to Brazil tonight. I joined Hacker Paradise as a Trip Facilitator a little bit over one month ago in Medellin. What a ride, I still remember the excitement and the anxiety of starting a new adventure.
When I joined HP on January the 5th, I didn’t know anyone (except for some Skype calls with Spencer and Renata). I was following HP on social media so I had an idea of what to expect but, how reality would it really be? Would I fit in the community? How could I integrate into a group of 20+ people that I didn’t know and with whom I’ll spend the next year?
I thought that this could also be stressful for some of you who will join the HP community so I want to share with you some tips on how to integrate with the group. People who already met me may know that I’m pretty easy-going and extroverted but, I promise you that these tips are also valid for introverted or shy people! 🙂
1. Slack is your friend: Start the conversation before you join the trip
When you book an HP trip you are added right away to the Slack channel for your specific trip. It was nice joining the Slack one month before arriving. Even though I felt like I was spying, this gave me an idea of the rhythm of the daily life at HP: Monday lunches, Goals, Reciprocity… drinks.
If you are passionate about something, you can create a dedicated channel on Slack even before joining the group. This way you’ll start engaging with people with the same interests. When you’ll meet them it will be like meeting a friend that you already know. Since this is all written, it’s even an easy first step for introverts!
2. The facilitators are there for you.
There are always 2 facilitators on each trip and we are here to, well, to facilitate, of course! We are the first members of the community you meet, both virtually when we interview you on Skype and, in person when we check you in. We are your first friends and you can write, call and talk with us whenever you want.
Are you stressing out because this is your first time visiting another continent? Write us, we’ve been through it. Don’t you know how to pack? Let us know and we’ll help. Are you missing you cat/partner? Hug us. We’re here for you.
Note that psychological counseling after 9 PM is available only if accompanied by a beer or a bottle of rosé.
3. Invite people to lunch/coffee
We all get hungry at some point so everyone is always happy to join a group lunch.
Shy? Just post a Slack message on the #eats channel just saying “Meet at 12:30 at the entrance of the coworking if you want to grab lunch.” You’ll be surprised how many people will show up. If you are not in a big group lunch mood, just approach one person 🙂
Need a break? Ask the person sitting next to you to grab a coffee. You can pass a piece of paper “Want a coffee? Check YES or NO”. This is bound to incite a chuckle and you’ll be on your way to coffee before you know it.
4. Change your seat in the coworking space
Before joining HP, I ran a coworking space for 3 years and this is the advice that I always gave to the members: change your seat every day. This will give you the chance to meet and engage in conversation with more people. Avoid the routine 🙂
5. Organize activities
New city = a lot of discovery and activities. Don’t go on your own, share your plans with the community. Lead a city trip, organize a hike, suggest a movie night or a ping pong tournament. We are all a little bit lazy so we are always happy and thankful when someone plans fun activities for us 🙂
6. Donut Buddy
The Donut Buddy slack app is everyone’s friend. At HP there are a lot of group activities and we realized that one-on-one conversations were harder to have. Cue the Donut Buddy program. Every week we are randomly paired with another participant and we go out for a donut, pizza, sangria, walk or the activity you prefer. It’s one of my favorite moments of the week. This gives us the chance to know each other more in depth in a one-on-one setting and in a quiet environment.
7. Greet people and kiss/hug
This is pretty basic for people from many countries around the world but it’s always a good reminder for others. Say hi to people when you first meet them in the morning! I always say hi and hug everyone when I greet them in the morning. Yes, I’m European and I love hugging people. Sorry if this makes you uncomfortable, you’ll get used to it 😉
If you are not a fan of hugs, a simple Hi! is always appreciated.
8. Attend the events, share your knowledge
The HP weekly schedule is pretty full. Lunch on Mondays, Goal/Reciprocity and Potluck on Tuesdays, random activities on Wednesdays, Talks on Thursdays. Attend the events and share your knowledge! There is no better way to let people know you than by giving a talk on a subject you are passionate about.
You’ll become a point of reference on that topic and people will reach out for more info.
Talks can be on the subject you prefer, something professional or not. We had talks on technical subjects like coding, crypto (many talks on crypto…), UI, marketing etc. but, also acting, improv and… Italian hand gestures. I repeat, it can be about anything. Don’t be shy, share your knowledge!
9. Take solo time
HP life can be overwhelming if you don’t take some time for yourself. Personal time is very important and you’ll need to learn to say no to some of the activites going on around you. We want to see you at your best and not grumpy or tired because you are out all nights for drinks or hiking all the weekends. Take care of yourself, be healthy and you’ll show your best side to the community 🙂
10. If too shy for all this: make extrovert friends, they’ll break the ice for you
If you are shy and those actions look too terrifying for you, I suggest you bond with the most extroverted person in the group. Come talk to me–I’ll break the ice for you!
I’m about to leave the coworking space and head to the airport. The Florianopolis trip starts in a few days and I can’t wait to meet everyone there. In this trip there will be a lot of HP alumni and, as it was in Medellin, it’s always “stressful” to fit in a group that has already had amazing experiences together. But new people are coming too and the dynamics are always different in each location.
If you think you are too shy or introverted to travel with a group of new friends, stop thinking, apply today, and put these tips into practice!
Join this amazing community so we can share unforgettable experiences together 🙂