Last Thursday, I went to my first fashion-related blogger event with Orleans + Winder. I have to admit, I was kind of nervous about it! There’s just something about having to mingle with a bunch of strangers that makes my palms sweaty. And even more so when it’s a bunch of ladies. (I grew up a tomboy.)
I know some of you ladies experience the same anxiety before you go to an event so I’m here to help a chickita out. Today, I’m sharing my tricks of the trade – 5 TIPS / WAYS – to help you conquer your next cocktail hour no matter how nervous, awkward, or unapproachable you are! 🙂
Being the first one at a party is really different from being first at a networking event. At a party, you want to arrive when it’s in full swing. By then, people are a little tipsy and excited to see you! Also, you don’t have to go through the lulls that happen. But at a networking event, not being the first one puts you in the awkward position of interrupting conversations and breaking into groups that have already formed.
Arriving first also gives you the opportunity to mingle with the host without having to fight for her attention. If you hit it off, she’ll even mention you often in her follow-up speeches (happened to me). Plus, being first (and last) makes you easier to remember and no one likes to be forgotten 😉
The “Individual” Approach
If you’re a fan of interacting in smaller groups, like I am, you’ll like this one.
I’m not telling you to attack the people that are standing by themselves but…”attack” the people that are standing by themselves. Usually, the people that are standing by themselves are a little nervous about approaching other people – like you are. So they’ll appreciate that YOU did them the solid of approaching AND you don’t have to be like, “Excuse me, can I join your conversation? Thanks.” 👿
Before you mingle at your next catch-up or event, prepare a mental (or physical) list of “stories”. Try thinking about what you’re going to say if someone asks what you do for a living – it will inevitably come up. Then, come up with a couple questions to expand on the discussion. What do they do for a living? How is work/life balance with that job? When they do spend time with their family, what do they like to do?
Lastly, think about one story you could tell at the beginning of small talk. For example, people tend to talk about the weather or the commute when they’re in a bind. I don’t really think that’s bad. You just have to get creative with how you build on the topic. Talking about a bad commute can lead to you talking about how you hate cities with a long commute. This could lead to a talk about travel etc. 😀
The point of preparing conversation points is NOT so you can deliver a perfectly rehearsed paragraph of material. It’s just to get you in the head space of contributing to a potentially difficult conversation.
The Plus One
Hosts are usually accommodating when it comes to invitees bringing a guest. Although the plus one may not get the same perks as the person invited (sorry, sis!), hosts will usually allow you to bring one. So, if you don’t like to be alone at social events, you most likely won’t have to! Isn’t that nice 🙂
Prioritize Positive Energy
I actually find it hard to wear a smile everywhere that I go. Partly because it takes a lot of facial muscle effort to change my natural :C face into a smile but I know that smiling does better for connecting 🙂
Try to give off the energy you want to receive. Since smiling is so difficult for me, I actually try to monitor the tone of my voice, making sure I vary it with inflections as opposed to my usual sarcastic drawl.
I don’t believe that you have to be an extroverted person to be a good conversationalist or a person whose company others enjoy. But being able to mingle with strangers at the drop of a hat – especially for business – is a useful skill to have. For more inspiration, check out Matthew Hussey on YouTube. He’s one of my favs!
Do you get nervous meeting strangers? How do you handle it?
Top: Banana Republic
Pants: Ann Taylor
Photography by @petrouspetals
Editing by @dressupchowdown