I am NOT a cocktail party kind of person. I don’t mind SMALL cocktail parties with people I know. But make me dress up and then put me in a LOUD, overcrowded room with a bunch of people I don’t know and tell me to mingle and make conversation? Well…let’s just say that if there’s a hell, that’s what mine would look like.
But I’ve gained some cocktail party experience these past two months, and as a result I think I’ve also gained some cocktail party skills:
1. Take a deep breath (or a calm, centering yoga breath) when you enter the room. Remind yourself that you are here to meet people and have fun. Whoever invited you to this did not do it to TORTURE you! They invited you because they wanted you to meet people and have fun.
2. Don’t hide in the corner…plant yourself in the middle of the room. Even if you’re not good at starting a conversation. This advice comes from the nice, marketing lady at Albert Whitman & Co., and it’s actually pretty good advice. My instinct is to go hide in the corner. But guess what? If you put yourself in the middle of the room, people will usually come over and start a conversation with you! Then you don’t have to worry about starting a conversation with someone else.
3. Smile and make eye contact. Again, my instinct is to look away if someone looks at me. But who’s going to come and talk to you if you look away?
4. Planting yourself by the food isn’t a bad idea, either. If you’re lucky, you can point to some dip on the table and use the “any idea what that is?” conversation starter.
5. After you’ve put in your time in the middle of the room and by the food, THEN scope out the corners. Chances are there’s somebody hiding over there who is even MORE uncomfortable at this cocktail party than you are…and they’ll be happy for the company.