Social gatherings are not always pleasant, at least for some people. Sometimes in business, we’re expected to attend work functions, dinners, meetings, conferences, seminars, networking events… the list goes on. If you’re an extrovert who enjoys meeting new people and having a chat – these days must be a breeze! However, what about the less social type, such as the introverts or those who suffer from social phobia? If you’re at a business type function, I guarantee there’s at least one person in the room who is squirming with nervousness. In fact, research suggests that almost 11 per cent of the Australian population experiences social phobia during their lifetime, with more women than men appearing to develop the disorder. So if that person is you, try some of these tips to help you conquer your next event.
Stick with your colleagues. At least for the start until you feel more comfortable. If you’re feeling up to it, step out of your comfort zone to meet at least one new person. After all, you never know who you’ll meet. Sticking by your colleagues side is staying within the safe zone, but try and branch out to meet others as well.
Bring your business cards. This is a great way to close off the conversation if you aren’t sure what to say next. Offering to stay in touch by providing your business card can always lead to future opportunities.
Limit the alcohol. As much as some boozy confidence may sound appealing, if you’re already feeling anxious, don’t add alcohol into the mix. Feel free to have a small amount, but don’t substitute alcohol to sweep the nerves under the rug.
Show face. Sometimes, all you need to do is be present. Once you’ve mingled and shown your presence, often that’s enough. People often feel pressured to stay until the very end of an event in fear of looking rude if they leave slightly early. If you’ve done your part, call it an early night. People would have rather you attend and leave early than to not come at all.
Lastly, try to remind yourself that it’s just part of the job. You aren’t going to love every aspect of your work, and if this is one of the parts you don’t enjoy, just do your best and remember you aren’t alone.
Until next time…