SOS! I Have a Networking Event Tonight

 

SOS! Posts: Quick tips for getting through creative crisis.

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert (or an extroverted introvert), the truth of the matter is that everyone gets nervous before events. Spilled drinks, social faux pas, and saying something stupid to someone we’re trying to impress are fears we all share. But you shouldn’t let it hold you back. Here’s some top tips we’ve crowdsourced from the artists and art directors best at social hour:

  • Awkward Isn’t Lethal. Everyone feels awkward sometimes, yet no one has died of it. If you’re having a panic moment alone or a conversation turns weird, excuse yourself to get a drink or go to the bathroom. Take a deep breath, then reset. Go back out there and find a new group conversation to join.
  • Breaking In. Joining a group in conversation seems daunting but is actually easier than you think. Pick a spot at the edge of the group and listen for a few minutes. Nod along or offer comments when asked. Don’t try to take over the conversation, just get drawn in naturally. After a few minute, say “Excuse me, I’m sorry I don’t know all of you, my name is ______.” And then you’ve made a bunch of new connections. Look, you’re networking!
  • Use a Prop. You’re an artist, and chances are you have a sketchbook. If you’re having trouble breaking into a conversation, take a spot at the bar or at a table close to a main aisle (no, not in the back corner) and start drawing. People will use it as an easy opener to start a conversation with you.
  • Time for Real Talk. If you are talking to someone and start to blank about what to say next, lean over conspiratorially and say “You know, I’m sorry if I seem a little anxious, I’m a little nervous in groups like this.” Guaranteed everyone can relate to that feeling, and will assure you that you’re doing just fine.
  • Name Your Fears. Remember to tell yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll seem awkward? People don’t remember awkward conversations nearly as much as you are afraid of. You’ll spill a drink, tip, step on someone’s shoes, or offend them accidentally? Just apologize and move on.

The most important thing to remember is that you will always lose more opportunities by staying home in fear than you might lose by going and feeling awkward. Social interactions get easier with practice, but remember, everyone feels awkward and can have an off nite sometimes, and that’s normal. Don’t let it stop you from going to that next gallery opening, portfolio review, or awards nite.

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