Recently I was very excited to attend a Blogger meet-up hosted by the UK Blog Awards. If you haven’t already heard me shouting it from the rooftops, I’m a finalist at the UK Blog Awards 2018 and am counting down the days to attend the event in April.
For the meet-up I ventured out of the Suffolk countryside, got the train to London, navigated my way to Shoreditch, re-grouped myself at a bar while I waited for the event to start and wondered straight in when it was time. I instantly made a connection with two lovely ladies Bex & Richael that were waiting near me to be served at the bar and I ended up sitting with them for the event too. After the event, there was time to mingle and meet others.
It got me thinking about other bloggers who maybe loved the idea of attending the meetup but held back because they felt too shy, too awkward or too anxious about walking in alone and starting conversations. Blogging can be quite a personal thing, with lots of time spent working alone and for some, such a meet up can seem quite daunting.
For any business owner networking can be a great way to share ideas, meet new people and escape the loneliness of solo working for a while. Here you will find 5 top tips: How to go to networking events alone that can be applied to anyone going to a networking event alone.
Here are my 5 top tips: How to go to networking events alone
1. Arrive early
By arriving early you will have time to ground yourself. There is nothing worse than racing to find a car park space or running from the train station in a mad panic. Arriving early gives you a chance to get yourself together at a different location before walking into the networking event. I really recommend going to a nice coffee shop or pub first. Time to get a drink, have a quick toilet break and one last look in the mirror before attending the event will give you the confidence that you’re looking good and have totally got this!
Arriving at the networking event on time is also very intentional. You will banish the fear of being the first person to arrive and avoid the overwhelm of walking into a room full of people who already seem to know each other. You will then be able to easily recognise the other confused looking people and you will be able to easily scout the room of who else is attending alone or in small groups. These will be the easiest people to spark up a conversation with because they are in the same position as you and will be actively seeking people to talk to.
2. Remember to make eye contact & smile
The best way to open yourself up to a conversation with others is to make eye contact and smile. It really is as simple as that. By using open body language you will find that others start a conversation with you. The best way to start a conversation at a networking event is to ask if you are in the right place (showing shared vulnerability is good) or asking them what brings them to the networking event (people naturally love talking about themselves).
3. Approach other individuals or smaller groups
Approaching a large group of people already in conversation is daunting for anyone. Instead a great place to start is to approach other people attending alone or small groups of 2/3. Usually the larger groups of people have all also met at the event and have decided to stick together as a means of comfort (being on time gives you an opportunity to be a part of that group). It’s also really important to mention that just because you find one or two lovely people to spend time with at the event, make sure you keep networking and keep chatting to others as well. Networking events are a great opportunity to meet lots of people in a small timeframe so shorter conversations and a details exchange to chat more later is the ideal situation.
4. Be prepared
A lot of people worry about things like; not knowing what to say, not being interesting enough or that others won’t like them. You can really easily alleviate yourself from all that worry by making sure you’re prepared before you go. If you know conversation starters are something you struggle with write some down in the notes section of your phone, so you can quickly and sneakily look at them throughout the event. A really easy way of getting other people to like you is to be a great listener. Get the other person talking about themselves and they will love you. We all love talking about ourselves, so you really don’t have to worry about being interesting. Make sure you listen, engage and show a genuine interest by asking further questions. If the conversation comes to a natural end, simply say it was great to meet you (ask to exchange details if you felt like you really connected) and say you’re off to meet some more people.
5. Fake it until you don’t have to fake it anymore
Vibes always speak louder than words. A really good way of feeling more confident is to channel the energy of someone you know or a celebrity you love that always seems really confident or easy to talk to. Imagine what they would do, imagine how they would hold themselves and imagine how confident they would be. Faking confidence will be really helpful in getting yourself out of your comfort zone and I bet you will surprise yourself at how well you do. Soon with a bit of time and effort that fake confidence will be completely natural.
Have you attended a networking event alone? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.