Social events can be intimidating for even the most extroverted people. If you identify as an introvert, it may be a good idea to plan ahead when you are going to an event to avoid those awkward moments and fully allow yourself to experience it fully. Preparing for the common challenges that rise for those who find it difficult to mingle naturally can make all the difference. Whether this is your first social event of its kind or you are an old pro- here are 10 steps that will help you merge with your crowd and enjoy your time.
1. Know Your Crowd
Familiarize yourself with those you know you will be joining you. Depending on the type of event, you will most likely be aware of a common theme of the event you are attending. Take the setting into consideration. Will it be a big crowd or a smaller group? Is it a business event or simply a social gathering? Knowing the tone of the event will help you know what to expect from it. It should also give you a general idea of who will be in attendance with you. Once you establish the knowledge of your event, you will be more likely to feel confident about approaching it with ease. This is the first step because you will need to know your event as well as you can in order to proceed with the other steps. If you know your crowd before you show up, you are already one step ahead of the rest.
2. Look the Part
Look approachable. Dress appropriately for the event but be sure to stand out. Image speaks a thousand words when it comes to making yourself available to other guests. l so keep that in mind when getting ready. Whether your event calls for formal attire or business casual, it is important to appear well put together and confident. Looking the part invites other guests to approach you which will lead you forth in your mingling. Wearing warm colors, playful hairstyles or adding a statement piece of jewelry can add an extra touch to make your fellow guests decide to come up to you. Though it may be cliché, a bright smile is the best accessory. Present yourself in a way that would impress you if you saw someone dressed just like you.
3. Arrive Early
Once you have studied all there is to know about your social event and you have gotten yourself ready, why not make it a point to arrive early? Getting to a social event before the majority of the crowd comes in gives you an advantage in a social setting. Walking in to an event after everybody has already gotten there and formed their social circles can spark an intimidation that may result in retreating away from the crowd. We all know that defeats the purpose of becoming a social butterfly! Arriving before the others gives you time to take in the atmosphere and make it your own. This is the perfect time to locate the bathroom, any exits, and refreshments (the most important part for sure!) Knowing the lay of the land increases the odds of making social connections in your favor. If you are comfortable with your setting, you can now make yourself comfortable with communication amongst guests. You will never regret arriving early, but you will always regret arriving late!
4. Make Yourself the Greeter
While guests are arriving, designate yourself as the greeter and position yourself near the entrance. You can even let the host of your social event know that you will be helping them out by greeting all the incoming guests with a friendly smile. This is the best way to break the ice with both the host and the fellow party goers. Since you have arrived a bit early, you beat the crowd and know the environment like the back of your hand. This puts you in the position to show them around and point out necessary information to them. Let them know as they come in where they can hang their coats, where they can get themselves a drink or where the best place to find a seat. You will automatically be the friendly face they associate with feeling comfortable themselves. Everyone is in the same boat so helping others navigate the event is sure to make you stand out. A little goes a long way!
5. Start Conversations
Don’t be afraid to initiate conversation at your social event. Being the one to reach one makes others feel like they can talk with you and they will end up gravitating toward you. Pretty soon, you will be the life of the party! And it all starts with a little effort. Find a middle ground that provides a conversation starter. Comment on the event- this can be as simple as discussing the food options or the atmosphere. These are topics that everyone at the event will be able to relate to, so it is a safe bet to start a conversation based on what’s around you. You can always get a little creative as you go but start off with basic topics that you know will be a hit. Your personality is an advantage that you have to offer even if you are not naturally outgoing. Don’t hesitate to let your inner party animal come alive.
6. Ask Open Ended Questions
Asking open ended questions at a social event leaves the conversation in the hands of the person you are speaking with. You can bounce ideas off of each other and avoid those awkward moments of silence while taking the pressure off of you. Asking questions like “where are you from?” or “what do you do for work?” open up the opportunity to further the conversation effortlessly. Once they begin telling you about their lives, they may ask about yours or provide you with interesting feedback to raises even more questions. This, in turn, helps you get to know people at the social event. Asking questions is the best way to initiate mingling.
7. Be Conscious of Your Body Language
Body language is everything when it comes to socializing. You want to be sure that your posture is straight, not hunched over. This not only makes you more approachable, it makes you appear more well rounded. It is also important to make eye contact when communicating with other party goers. This lets them know that you are fully engaged and attentive. It can be nerve-wracking to meet new people but try to be aware that nervous gestures show. Try to avoid biting nails, playing with your hands, twirling your hair, etc. These habits can send the wrong message and you want to be sure that you appear open and inviting. You have a lot to offer, so don’t be afraid to carry yourself as such!
8. Venture to The Middle of The Room
Socializing is a skill that requires the occasional position change. Positioning yourself toward the middle of the social event as the night goes on makes it easier to meet more and more people. Don’t limit yourself to the wall or a corner. The party is happening right in the middle! Get yourself in the center of all the conversation by walking into the crowd. You have already established how to start up conversation, so keep it going! Multiply your social circle by joining in with others. Depending on the type of event, you may even end up dancing.
9. Put the Phone Away!
You heard that right. Put the phone away! Constantly checking your phone can put others off. If you absolutely must check it, head to the bathroom for a break to take your phone out. You want your fellow party goers to think you are interested in the event, but you also want to remain enjoying yourself. Live in the moment. Phones can be a crutch at social events so if you really want to challenge yourself to expand your social horizons, keep the phone tucked away unless you have an emergency. (But keep it somewhat close for picture opportunities, of course!)
Lastly, remember that you are not the only one who may feel out of your comfort zone. Everybody is human and nobody is perfect- this event is no exception to that rule. Everyone is in a new setting with new faces so don’t forget to make others feel welcome just as much as you are trying to enjoy yourself. Feed off of the energy of those around you and keep having fun. Make the most of the event and you will thank yourself at the end of the day. Relax and be yourself. You will be surprised at how natural socializing will become.