Attending social events solo can feel awkward and icky, even for extroverted types. Networking events are especially tough, since there’s a lot riding on your ability to make a good impression. But, you don’t have to skip out on a great career opportunity, just because you don’t have a plus-one on your RSVP. Head to your next event with your head held high and a stack of business cards in your pocket. Here are some ways to embrace the solo flying and get some networking done.
(Photo credit: greentechmedia/Flickr)
1. Don’t Put Baby in a Corner
If you’re anxious, you might feel a bit like a caged animal when you hit the crowd. Instead of hiding in the corner, put yourself where the animals like to congregate: by the food or drink. Most networking events have some kind of offering of one or the other, if not both (and you should get your money’s worth, after all). When you put yourself near the vittles, you can create a title for yourself: Expert. Offer advice on what tastes good to those approaching the watering hole, and then swoop in with an easy introduction and handshake. BOOM, you’re networking.
2. Talk to the People You Know: The Organizers
You might have come alone, but you will always know (even just by name) the event organizers. Seek them out, and make sure to introduce yourself to them (and pass out the all-important business cards, too). That way, even if your gumption fails and they’re the only ones you speak with all night, you’ll at least have a few new contacts, and impressive ones, too!
3. Get Pitch Perfect
It might seem nerdy to rehearse ahead of time, but having your elevator pitch memorized always gives you something to talk about to new contacts. Have your pitch ready, and you may just find you have someone else in your proverbial corner when you leave that night.
4. Don’t Linger
Once you make a new contact, it might be tempting to stick with your new best friend for the rest of the night, but don’t give in. Make your next move with grace and keep on building those connections. It’s not speed dating, and you’re not looking for The One, so keep on moving through the crowd and network. By the end of the evening, you’ll be surprised at how fast the whole event went by.
Congrats! You just flew solo.
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