So you’ve prepped. And planned. And now you’ve walked through the door.
For all your pep talk, it still looks like a wall of people who all seem better at networking than you do. Pshaw! They don’t do any better – they simply hide their discomfort.
Your practiced introduction now seems falsely hearty? Your teeth feel gummy? You feel like you’re in gr. 3 and the entire recess playground is involved in a fun game except you?
Deep breath. Ask yourself: What’s the worst thing that could happen? And if it did, what could be done about it?
(more planning I know, with you on the threshold of the event)
See someone you know? Start there. Just don’t stay there and hide with them. Or, better yet, get them to circulate around the room with you. It’s almost enjoyable to introduce someone else as your excuse to meet folks.
See someone standing alone? Start there. They’re probably feeling like a wall flower too.
Sometimes I stand on the side for a few minutes to observe. Who is animated when they talk and might be interesting to meet? Who is laughing? Who looks like they need rescuing?
Yes, it feels artificial. It is. The genuineness comes not with changing the situation, but in how you handle it. Like a dance, you step into the pattern and add your moves.