How Do I Enter A Room Confidently?

I’ve spent a large portion of 2011 helping professionals and business owners become more confident to both stay in to network as well as going out to network. Every time I run a training workshop focusing more on the working the room part of networking, there is normally someone who wants to know how to enter a room confidently.

It sounds like a trivial matter to enter a room confidently. Or at least that’s what we try and tell ourselves, when we are beating ourselves up because we still haven’t cracked the secret of confidently entering a room. Let’s be honest, it can be very daunting to turn up to a networking event and find the room packed full of small huddles of people.

If I’m truthful, I always find this a difficult position to be in.  This means I tend to try and avoid having to work the room (but that’s another story for another time). So, when I am faced with the task of having to go in and make small talk with strangers, I always have to give myself a short and sharp pep talk first. In this pep talk I always remind myself to be myself, and start looking for someone with whom I can have a good first conversation.

So, aside from giving yourself a pep talk, how can you improve your confidence when entering a room?

1. Turn up early

At any sort of networking event, small groups of people will form. The earlier you arrive in the evening, the less ‘formed’ these groups have become. It is also much easier to enter a half full room, than a packed room. As the event progresses these conversations will naturally progress from small talk to more meaningful conversations. This can often have the effect that many people stop circulating, making it harder to find the easy groups to break into.

2. Go with a friend

For many the fear of entering a room is exacerbated when they turn up to an event on their own. If you turn up with someone else you know rationally that there is always someone you can talk to. However, don’t make the mistake of sticking to each other like glue, remember to separate and circulate independently.

3. Remember that not everyone is happily talking

It becomes easy to tell ourselves that everyone else is having great conversations, and that no one will want to talk to us. This is a little story that we can tell ourselves at these types of events. (It’s also a not-very-helpful story, but easily done.) Remember that not everyone is happily talking in groups; there will always be people who will welcome a conversation with you. All you need to do is look around the room and make eye contact with someone.

4. Meet some of your network at the event

When you can start the evening with a conversation with someone you know, it can get easier to enter the room and then start working the room. Arrange to meet someone at the event – then you know you have someone to talk to

5. Look for people standing by themselves

Look out for people on their own or small groups of open people whom you can easily make eye contact with, and start talking to. You’ll be amazed how grateful people are, when standing on their own, and people pro-actively go up to them and start a conversation.

6. Use positive affirmations

As anyone who knows me well will tell you, I don’t really do touchy-feely-hippy-chickie-kind of stuff. (I’m not that kind of coach!) However, using positive affirmations is something I do recommend for my clients. Positive affirmations are where you have several short statements, which you tell yourself – many times a day if needs be. I personally tell myself, ‘you can do anything you put your mind it’ when I start to feel a little unconfident or out of my depth. If you are someone who feels daunted by the thought of entering a large room full of people, what can you tell yourself before you go in to buck up your confidence?

What else would you add to this list?

Heather Townsend helps professionals achieve business and career success using social media and networking. She is the author of the current best-selling book on networking, ‘The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking’. She regularly blogs at partnership potential and joined up networking

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