The Before Phase
Mental preparation is the most important part of opening up to the possibility of communicating with others. The more you know, the more relaxed you can be.
Quick notes on the acknowledging part:
- Where are you going, and most importantly – why? To widen your personal network of people? Or is it more of a business conference?
- Knowing the structure of the people is something which goes with the flow. You can’t ever know what kind of people are going to be at an event. Even if you have a complete list of the attendees, you cannot know the mood they will be in.
- Know the venue where you are going to be, know the exits, the entrances, and the height of the ceiling. (I must seem as if I’m giving you tips to rob a bank, not to socialize.) The first two things might be something that you usually pay attention to, but why the height of the ceiling? When you come into a room – and claustrophobes will get this – you subconsciously collect all the information about the place where you are. So, if you make it more conscious, it is easier to understand the room and not feel lost inside of it.
Bonus tip: checking out photos of previous events which happened at the place you’re planning to visit is a good idea. You’ll know the basic spots for groups, individuals, etc. Which leads us to . . .
The Event Itself
Situation No. 1: standing near the walls, you realize that everyone has an interlocutor already, and you really just want to exit and never ever come back. Basically, you can do that. But you shouldn’t. The strength of your courage should be greater than your fear of failure. I mean, what is the worst thing that could happen? Just you, being alone in the crowd, having no one to talk to and feeling utterly ashamed because, you swear, everyone is reacting to the awkwardness they perceived from the moment you entered the room? Well, basically that is the worst thing. But, do you know the possibility of that actually happening? 0,001%.
Everyone’s too panicky themselves, too involved in the conversations they’re having, or too involved in free food or free Wi-Fi. Just relax. Literally, relax your shoulders. It will make you feel less pressured, and all the bad thoughts will go away. Also, there is a greater possibility of someone approaching you.
Situation No. 2: The approach. A person is staring at you. You can feel it. You can feel a stranger’s eyes on you . . . getting closer every second . . . Run for your life!
No, I’m just kidding.
Don’t do that.
That’s not how you network with people.
But, if a person does approach you, it means (s)he is interested in you. So whatever you say will be taken from a, more or less, positive perspective. Or at least a neutral one. Even if you start blabbing, you can always stop. Everyone understands nervousness. And if they don’t? Then they are not worth it, thus no need to be nervous. (This is the thinking that has kept me from going one hundred percent crazy.)
If you get yourself into the situation of not knowing what to say, you can always ask traditional cliché questions about the education the person has had or is having. Anything which can make people talk about themselves will work. People really tend to like self-absorbing topics. This is a truth you should act upon.
As for the final word . . . I lack skill at saying good-bye. And the final words are quite close to it.
So just remember – always know your worth, and never be afraid.