Your palms are sweating. Your armpits feel like a faucet and you’re trying to remember if you brushed your teeth. You’re in a room full of new people and it feels like everyone in there knows each other. You’re wondering if people care that you’re there and you don’t know what you’re going to say should one of them walk up and actually talk to you! If only you could just calm your nerves, maybe…just maybe, you could let the real you shine through.
I know that feeling. I used to feel that way often attending networking events, going to college parties or even walking into the cafeteria on campus. I wasn’t really shy but large crowds just made me nervous and my body language, facial expressions, everything sure reflected it! I would literally stand to myself and wait for other people to come up and approach me and if they didn’t I would just leave thinking that the event was a flop when in fact it was me just having a hard time juggling my emotions.
However in all my time standing alone I noticed that the most popular people are those that have lively personalities and pleasant faces and body language. They look approachable and kind. Trust me, inside you may feel like you’re playing it cool but your face is doing something totally different and it’s making people walk far away from you!
If you’re attending any type of function and you’re very nervous or just need help relaxing in a new environment, try these simple tips!
1. Know what you’re there for. If it’s a networking event are you there to meet new people, pass out business cards, make business connections or connections for a future job opportunity? If it’s a party are you looking for friends, someone to date, meet new DJs? If it’s an educational event on your campus is it for class, personal interest, a college aspiration? If you can get very clear on your main reason for being there you’ll make sure that that purpose happens before you leave.
2. Smile. Everyone looks friendly when they smile and you look more approachable. If you want to continue with the deer in headlights looks expect to stand by yourself the entire time. If not, smile!
3. Laugh. Smiling and laughing go hand in hand. It brightens your face and look. (Don’t just stand there laughing by yourself though, that will make you look like you need to be in psych ward)
4. Walk up to another person who appears to be standing alone and introduce yourself. I know this is a major step for someone who is shy but it’s a proactive step towards meeting new people and it makes you look very confident.
5. Use these five questions to strike up a conversation. What’s your name? What do you do for a living (or what grade are you in)? What brought you here today? Big plans this weekend? Wow, the (something that happened earlier that day) was interesting, what’d you think? People love to talk about themselves and these questions are a good segway into a basic conversation. If the person seems to not want to be bothered just grab your phone and say “Ooh gotta take this call. Nice meeting you!”, step away and find another person in the room and try again.
6. Have an amazing story to tell. The most interesting people I’ve found are the ones who have great stories to tell. There is something so engaging as you stand in anticipation to hear the entire story. If you do choose this route make sure it’s not some crazy story about someone who just died or a story that’s extremely long. Go for the wow factor!
7. Wear comfortable shoes. There is nothing worse than having to stand in an outfit or shoes that you feel uncomfortable in. Dress in breathable clothing (that means not skin tight and a loose fabric like cotton). That way your body language also reflects your comfort level.
8. Have some water. Think of your water cleansing out the butterflies in your stomach. Just take a sip and take a deep breath and repeat.
Question: What techniques have you tried to cure your nervousness?