If you prefer a quiet evening at home over cocktail parties, you’re not alone. Socializing isn’t something everyone enjoys. However, it’s important to learn to be comfortable in social situations. Parties and networking events can further your career and even enrich your life by strengthening your relationships and bringing you new friends and business acquaintances.
The good news is you can overcome your discomfort regarding socializing!
The hardest part – breaking the ice – only takes a couple of minutes. Once you’ve established rapport with someone else at the party, the rest is easier.
The main thing to remind yourself is that these are people just like you – with many of the same goals, likes, and dislikes as you. Plus, some of them don’t want to be there any more than you do, so when you take the first step, they already appreciate your efforts.
Try these strategies to enjoy yourself at social occasions and maybe make a new friend or two before the evening is over:
1. Plan ahead for a party. Decide a couple of weeks in advance what you’ll wear.
* Ensure your outfit is washed, ironed and hanging on the hanger ready to go a couple of days before the party. This way, there’ll be no last minute panics about what you’re wearing.
* If you have the least bit of concern whether the clothes will fit, try them on a week or so in advance of the party.
* Women will find it helpful to select all accessories they plan to wear a few days in advance as well. Choosing the scarf, earrings, necklace, bracelet or other adornments you’ll wear makes those last hours before the party begins less stressful.
* If you’re supposed to take a dish or hors d’oeuvres to share with others, select something you’ve made before that people loved. This way, you can be confident about the dish you’re taking to serve.
2. Use positive thinking to ready yourself. Say to yourself, “I’m going to meet some new friends today” or “Maybe I’ll have a few laughs or learn something interesting at the party.”
3. Remember: You’re not alone. Remind yourself that others there may experience some discomfort in social situations, too. Adopt an attitude of, “We’re all in this together.” You’ll actively reach out more if you keep this similarity in mind.
4. Bring a friend or family member. If it’s okay with the host, bring a trusted friend along for support. However, it’s still important to make an effort to get to know others – you can just do it together!
5. Take a deep breath and circulate the room. Others are there to make connections, just like you. They’ll likely appreciate the fact you’re coming to them.
* Smile and introduce yourself.
* Make a comment on how you’re connected with the partygoers. For example, if you all live in the same condo, saying “Hi, I’m Sam from the 7th floor” is a good opening line.
6. Show a sense of humor. If you can say something funny and appropriate for large groups, go for it. Well-timed, appropriate humor is a great icebreaker.
7. Use the food and beverages as fodder for conversation. “Wow, who made these figs wrapped in bacon? They’re my favorite!” or “Those chocolate truffles are to die for.”
* Making such comments to the person standing next to you at the hors d’oeuvres table will likely encourage them to respond to you. At that point, introductions are in order and you’re doing well.
Networking is a vital component of a fulfilling life and developing a healthy comfort level with social interactions is integral to establishing connections with others. Apply some of these suggestions to your next social gathering and you may find that you actually enjoy it!