What's your talent?
Not that long ago, I was at a party. Many of the people at the part were making small talk, but some of them were “working the room”. They'd go from group to group, introduce themselves in a clever way, tell a joke, tell a story, explain what they did as an occupation, tell a story about a successful job they'd done within their occupation, tell another joke, then pass out business cards.
I've done this too. It's a way to get new immediate business, but often as not it's more about making a good impression and potential new business in the future. It is in essence the first meeting you've ever had with someone, and this “tone” sets up trust. If insincere, it will come off as hollow and false, and their BS detector will being going off like a loud klaxon.
Many times we're evaluated in the first 15 seconds of meeting someone. If you haven't made a good impression in the first ten-fifteen minutes, chances are people are not going to really want to be around you or give you a second opportunity.
Think about dating. It's the same way. Sure some people might be easier to date than others, but it's in that first encounter that attractiveness is noticed.
In a SHTF scenario, you'll be planning your own methods of dealing with the collapse. In time, you'll be communicating with your neighbors and forming a tighter knit real community. Whatever experiences you had in the past will carry forward into the future. If you've helped them when their car is stuck in snow, let them inside when they've been locked out, helped their children if they fell and got a scrape, etc then it will be a lot easier. You'll be considered an altruistic “good Joe”.
Many times we don't know our neighbors, and so you'll be “working the crowd” when you meet them in a general way post-collapse. You have moments to make an impression and communicate why they should trust you.
The only way for this to work is to be sincere and have plans and be able to communicate your talent. If you don't have a talent, just an idea, then you'll be labeled a “dreamer”. If you aren't sincere, then no one will trust you. Why should they? If you can't be bothered to speak in slow calm ways with persuasive words and speak clearly and confidently, then why would they listen?
In the absence of authority, people need answers. In the short term, people expect to be rescued. If their level of skills and supplies is very low, then they'll expect being rescued more. The more talents, supplies, and usually the depth of spirituality, then sometimes they perceive the seriousness of a disaster. This group may be willing to listen to a community plan versus the weak notion of being rescued.
Eventually people want answers and direction, because most people are followers not leaders. They want someone to tell them it's going to be alright. They want someone with a plan and confidence and goodness. They want someone with skills and can communicate and is trustworthy. You must be those things even if you don't desire leadership. It might be that you end up as a follower but you temporarily help organize. It might be that you help facilitate the process by recruiting the natural leader and giving them allegiance.
Regardless learning to become a good communicator, learning skills, and then demonstrating them clearly in minimal time is what it's going to take to help people as things decline into a collapse.
Many times, I've given tips over the last year and a half, and it's usually about seizing the initiative. You have a short window in which to organize, and if you miss that window, it could become dog-eat-dog and that benefits no one.
Imagine this. Let's say that you're one of the bug out crowd. You arrive dirty, tired, hungry, with parasites, fleas, and most likely some illness from your journey from your urban center to a small town that's safer. The ONLY way that they'll admit you and your family is if it's in the best interest of the community that has survived and evolved. Can you in those first minutes of contact plead your case?
You'll have to. Many of us aren't good communicators. We grunt at wives or girlfriends. We can be dour. We are used to being well-fed, rested, healthy, fully hydrated, etc. When we feel out of sorts, we naturally get grumpy.
If you are among the bugout crowd, unless you can impress your new neighbors in seconds, then they won't listen to you whatsoever. You'll be perceived as a drifter, and since drifters are known to commit crimes and be problems for the sheriff, then they won't want you around.
Let's say that you're wandering through someone's property. Do you really think you'll talk your way out of it? I doubt it...not post-collapse. The only ones who can make it for a limited time sheltering in the forests will be those who avoid populated areas and hole up in makeshift shelters. Since there's limited food there unless you've got advanced foraging and hunting skills, you'll eventually seek out agricultural towns.
There are many good reasons why civilizations evolved from hunter-gatherer societies into tribal farming. It's too difficult for even good hunters to make it for very long. This means that eventually you'll seek out these towns. By then, if you've avoided them for awhile, they may have had many negative experiences with fleeing city folk. You must impress them with a prepared speech of why they should allow you to be there living among them.
If you don't have skills, then what you should be doing right now is learning them. Not just theoretical, but practical ways of surviving and coping in the short, interim, and long term. This means committing that knowledge to paper and then developing the best persuasive words to communicate it.
If you look different, talk different, act different, well why would you expect suspicious people to believe you. They don't know you and now they can't verify anything that you say. For all they know you're a serial killer or rapist or child molester. You're a big unknown and hence a major security risk. This means that you have to not only say what you can do, but show what you can do. Most people that have talents can do that in ten minutes or less.
If you have mechanical ability, then show them by demonstrating it on a car or piece of nearby equipment. Explain what a gear box is. Point out pulleys and name the parts. Explain that this or that needs maintenance and how you'd fix it.
Let's say you're a medical person. Ask about what sicknesses they've had. What kind of symptoms are usually seen in those illnesses? What kinds of medicines are used to treat them? How long is the recovery?
If you've served in the military, explain about the battles you've been in. What kind of weapons were used? What tactics? How many people did you command?
Whatever your ability, you need to be able to clearly make it known that the skills you have are what the town needs. You won't have long to tell them, and the longer it takes to explain it, the less of a chance they'll believe you.