A friend of mine confided in me the other day that networking and meeting new people makes her sweat. She said, "All I want to do is find a wall I can hold up and pray I don't say anything stupid to anybody." I told her that many people feel the same way, but anyone can take a few small steps to minimize their discomfort and maximize their potential.
Walking into a room full of strangers can be anxiety-inducing, especially when you want to make an excellent first impression. Whether it's a social or business event, here are three ways to walk into any room with confidence.
- Know What You're Going to Say: It may seem silly but practice ahead of time of how you'll introduce yourself. This will keep you from tripping over your words or talking too fast. You'll have your thoughts organized, and you'll come across as a polished speaker. If it's a networking opportunity, have a few short sentences memorized that explain the benefits of your product or service. You'll find that any nervousness you may have approaching people goes away when you're prepared.
- Check-in with Your Body: As you're reading other people's body language, they're reading yours. Before entering the room, make a note of how you're holding yourself. Are you standing tall with your shoulders back and your head lifted? If you want to appear approachable and open to meeting others, level your gaze to catch someone's eye. Looking over everyone's head when you come in may give the impression of arrogance or aloofness. When you walk up to a group, listen to the conversation, wait for a break in the action, and then introduce yourself.
- Make Eye Contact and Smile: When we feel any apprehension about making new acquaintances, we tend to forget to look people in the eye and smile. We come across as disinterested or insecure when we don't give someone our full attention. Connections are made quickly when we learn to take a deep breath, relax our shoulders and meet the other person's eyes with a smile.
The more prepared we are, the more confident we come across to others. So take time to practice your introduction and what you want to talk about. Pay attention to your body and make sure you are standing, walking, and sitting with good posture. As you speak and listen to others, do it with a smile. Eye contact lets them know you're interested in what they have to say.
Opportunities are around every corner, and the more prepared we are, the better our chances of success and the less time we spend sweating.