Events can be exciting but sometimes they can also be a little tough. Depending on the event, you may be in a situation where you don’t know a single person, or you may be seeing a bunch of people you don’t talk to on a regular basis and possibly be subjected to lots of photo and odd small talk. You want to look and feel your best, especially if you’ve looked forward to an event for a while. The good news is, whether you are dreading an event or you’re really excited, you can have the time of your life as long as you feel confident and go in with the right mindset. To begin, check out our blog posts on quick tips to boost your confidence here and feeling confident in social settings here. Those will give you lots of quick advice for setting yourself up for success. Once you’ve got those tools in your pocket, read on for some simple, powerful advice.
The first step to feeling confident at an event is knowing and following the dress code. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than showing up somewhere and being underdressed or outrageously overdressed. It never hurts to ask if you’re not sure. If an event gives a dress code that you’re not sure about, be sure to look up examples and find something appropriate. For example, you might get an invite that says “creative black tie” and have NO idea what that means. Or maybe you’re going to a marketing conference and the dress is business casual and you’re wondering if that means you can wear jeans. A quick google or Pinterest search can help you out. A good rule of thumb is to dress on the nicer side of how you interpret the dress code. It’s generally better to be a little overdressed than to be at all underdressed. And you’ll feel much more comfortable on that side of things. Try to get a second opinion from someone who will be honest with you and/or will also be at the event or has been to a similar event. Knowing that two minds thought your ensemble was a good idea can help you feel much more confident in your decision.
Events can be much easier and more fun if you’re with people you like to be around. If you’re attending a more casual event and can bring a friend, do it. If you’re attending a conference and have a friend in the same industry or with the same interests, it’s worth seeing if they can attend with you. If you’re attending a wedding or exclusive party, you may be given the option to bring someone. If you’re given the option of a plus one and have a suitable option, bring them. Even if you know a group of friends will be there, it’s helpful to have someone that you know has the same plans as you do. Bringing someone with you will ensure that you have a friend to be able to get you through awkward conversations. Even better, you won’t have those awkward moments of being the first person or last person of your group at the event and have to navigate things solo. A word of caution here: make sure your plus one is someone you feel comfortable with and have a great time around (who won’t embarrass you). Generally a plus one is reserved for a date or significant other. However, if you aren’t in a relationship and were still given a plus one, feel totally free to bring a fun, casual date. Just make sure you don’t bring someone to a large event on a first date and spend the night wishing they weren’t there so you could spend time with people you know and like better.
Go in with a Plan
This can obviously be as broad or as specific as you want, but it helps to go into an event knowing what you want to get out of it. Some events you may be attending just because you feel obligated, but you just want to dine and dash. Sometimes you’re attending a wedding of an old friend and everyone you knew in college is going to be there and you want to make sure you get time with everyone you want to see. Sometimes you’re going a conference for work and feel a little overwhelmed about everything you could do and learn. No matter what the occasion, spend a few minutes beforehand deciding what you want out of the event. Set a few ‘goals’ of what you want to leave the event with. Whether that’s seeing five specific people and then getting out of there or it’s meeting five new business contacts and learning how to connect with your customers better. This will give you more direction at the event and help you to feel less overwhelmed by everything that’s going on. You’ll feel more confident knowing you have a purpose.
Depending on your personality, small talk can be tons of fun or a total stress-fest. If you’re in the second group, have answers prepared. This might sound silly, but it can change your entire night. Have simple, concise answers for questions about what you do, where you’re from and what you enjoy doing in your spare time. Also come up with a few simple questions to ask people if things get awkward. Remember that it’s always okay to excuse yourself from a conversation if you’re done with it. As long as you’re kind about bowing out, you’ll feel a lot more confident moving on to something else than being stuck in uncomfortable conversations all night. If, by chance, you’re at an assigned table and can’t leave a conversation, try starting a new conversation with someone else at the table or just adding someone else into the conversation you’re having. Having more people to come up with topics and questions will take a lot of pressure off of you. If you’re at an event that involves networking, be sure that during your planning sesh before the event you come up with ideas of what types of people you want to connect with. Setting a goal about the types of connections you want to make will give you more confidence leaving conversations that aren’t working. Constantly remind yourself that you don’t need to stay in a conversation you’re not enjoying.
How do you keep yourself feeling fearless while you’re at events? Help your fellow ladies out and share with us on our Facebook page!