Are you a shy extrovert? No, that’s not a contradiction. An extrovert gets energized by being around people. A shy one gets nervous jumping head-first into a large group at a party or networking event. Do you wish they would just come over and strike up a conversation with you instead?
This description is a pretty accurate one of me, actually. Over the years, I’ve gone to numerous events alone, built up a repertoire of strategies that work almost every time, and today, I’m going to share some with you. These are a few ways to be an irresistible wallflower.
Wear a conversation piece:
Have you ever started a conversation via a compliment? Get someone else to do the same thing to you! The easiest way to do this is to wear something a little different. For example, I own a pair of floral leather boots, and frequently don them at events, solely to give people an excuse to come up to me. Whatever you do choose, make sure it’s something that you can talk about enthusiastically.
“That’s a really cool band shirt!”
“That’s a really cool band shirt!”
“Thanks! I got it when Matt Andersen played in Ottawa! I like collecting shirts from every good show I see.”
The second reply opens up different channels of conversation, such as “oh, are you from the Ottawa region?”, “what other good shows have you seen?”, or even “who is Matt Andersen?” It’s much easier to get the ball rolling talking about something your passionate about, and it doesn’t put you on the spot with giving your elevator pitch to someone you don’t know yet.
Wearing something cool is great for small talk.
Stand in a strategic place:
If you want people to come up to you, you have to be seen. Find a space along the wall that isn’t in the shadows, or buried behind the chocolate fountain. Anywhere that is well lit and on the side (but not too far from everyone) is fair game.
Keep your right hand free:
Don’t just stand there, wringing your hands nervously! Lean back, and hold something in your left hand (that’s not your smartphone). Sip a cocktail, a mocktail, a milkshake, but always in your left hand. Even if you are left handed, chances are that the people you meet will want to shake your right. You do not want their first impression of your handshake style to be cold and wet.
Another note: party-goers subconsciously don’t want to disturb someone in the middle of chewing. No one invited you to this party because you are hungry. Graze if you must, but don’t balance a huge platter of food at a not-sit down event in between two hands.
Make eye contact:
LOOK INTO THEIR EYES! Lots of people, shy ones especially, have a tendency to meet gazes briefly, before looking away. Instead, Memorize their eye colour, or even count the number of times they blink. Try this at the next event – when you catch someone’s gaze, hold it, and smile.
Don’t forget to smile;
And I’m not just talking any old smile – a slow one. Studies over the years have shown that women in business who smile slowly are perceived as more credible and interesting. Even if that doesn’t apply to you, give it a try. Catch the eye of someone, and smile very slowly, showing your teeth slightly. It subconsciously gives people a warm fuzzy feeling of you thinking they’re special, since you don’t just smile at anybody.
The most important thing to take from all these tips, is to seem approachable, and like you’re having a good time. Invite people over by catching their gaze and smiling, and give them something to break the ice with, even if it’s as lightweight as a cool piece of clothing. We all know you’re capable of wowing fellow event goers with your ideas and talents, but you just need them to come up to you first.