Was one of your resolutions this year to connect more? (That's smart of you). Whether you're new to a city, trying to find new friends or need to network more for your career, the task can seem Herculean if you know you won't know many (or any) people at the event you want to attend.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to break out of your shell a little bit more this year and head to events and parties where you may not know anyone (or perhaps only a couple of people), it's a bold resolution and one I think is worth it.
Few people regret going to fun events (but the regret of missing out on the possibility of a fun event is all too real). So whether you're an introvert, an extrovert or just need a little bit of motivation to socialize after a long day of work, consider these tips:
Scope out the situation
Knowledge is confidence. Get as many details about the event as you can. What the guest list is, what the dress code will be. If you want to and are able to, drive or walk by the event location so you know how to get there (eliminating the possibility of getting lost before the event and walking in flustered). If any of the above suggestions seem reasonable or bring you relief just thinking about them, then you might be someone that let's fear of the unknown psych you out of going to events. Getting as much information as you can beforehand might help you feel more comfortable.
DON'T retreat into your Facebook feed
If you do make it to your event and find out to your horror that you know no one there, don't immediately whip out your smart phone and start occupying your time. Stand or sit there and take in the event. See you if you spot anyone you've wanted to meet. Even if you're too shy to reach out, not being on your phone may make you more approachable and someone might walk over and introduce themselves to you.
Head toward someone who looks comfortable
Scan the event or party room when you get there and look for someone or someones who look comfortable where they are. Look at body language that isn't stiff and feels natural in the space. Those folks will most likely be comfortable enough in the space that they'll be open and welcoming if you do decide to approach.
Brush up on popular culture, current events or some other common conversation topics.
Take some of the nervousness of having to approach people you don't know at all or don't know well by making sure you're caught up on the latest hot television show episode or have an opinion about a new album that's out. You might feel more confident chatting. And remember: Asking questions can always be a great way to break the ice; people love talking about themselves.
Give yourself a 20 minute minimum
If you do manage to make it to an event where you don't know anyone and you don't find someone to introduce yourself to immediately, don't walk right back out. Give yourself at least 20 minutes before you decide to leave. That's enough time to take a few breaths, sample a snack or a drink, take a tour of the event space or even admire some art. If after 20 minutes you're just not feeling it, you can leave knowing you at least made it!