I’m too embarrassed to go alone.
A seminar participant told me she wasn’t going to a networking meeting because she didn’t have anyone to go with her. I replied (politely) that by not attending the meeting she was missing an opportunity to meet new people and learn from the event.
I also commented that many people attend business-social activities by themselves. Some prefer it because it enables them to interact with more people.
Some suggestions to help you overcome your reluctance to attend events on your own include the following:
• Identify your purpose before you go. Is it to meet a particular person? Hear the latest from a speaker? Find out about any job openings? Catch up with colleagues? Add people to your network? Knowing your purpose can keep you focused on achieving your objective.
• Walk into a room like you belong there. Because you do! After you enter, stand to the side and get your bearings. Is there an official host or receiving line that you need to approach? Do you need to sign in? Where’s the food and drink? Do you see someone you know? Do you need to find your table or get a seat? Find an area where you want to begin and walk confidently to it.
• Know that others are uncomfortable also. You are not alone. Many people can feel ill at ease when attending business–social events. The secret is not to let others know that you are uncomfortable. Look approachable. Don’t stand with your arms crossed and a stern look on your face. Make eye contact with others and have a pleasant facial expression.
• Pretend you are the host. And it is your job to make others feel comfortable. You can go up to someone that is alone. Say hello, introduce yourself and shake hands. Ask the person a question to start conversation.
• Don’t talk with one person the whole time. Stay with people 4 – 7 minutes. This is not a hard and fast rule, but a general guideline so you get to meet more people. But if you are talking with someone you have been trying to meet, stay longer!
More tips on mingling can be found in my new etiquette book GREET! EAT! TWEET!