I have anxiety. I get stomach cramps, sweaty palms, panic attacks and maybe worst of all I say embarrassing things when I’m nervous. Like go into graphic detail about how heavy my period is or say that I’m not a big Beyonce fan in front of a room-full of well, Beyonce fans.
Attending blogging events is my worst nightmare, or at least it used to be.
Over the past few years I’ve pushed myself to go along to awkward art gallery openings, product launches and networking events and along the way I’ve discovered a few ways to feel more confident each time.
I also met Kirsty Hulse who along with being a business owner, runs workshops and one-on-one brain based coaching programmes to help people find their voice.
Together with a few of my own tips I’m going to be tapping into her wealth of knowledge (she’s so wise, it’s scary) that has led her to be a regular keynote speaker at conferences and events all over the world.
Turning up to an event organised by someone you’ve never met, in a room filled with complete strangers, for a reason you’re probably not 100% sure of is (although somewhat common in the blogging world) an odd scenario.
Kirsty says before she goes into a room where she’s expected to mingle she takes a few minutes to observe the absurdity.
“I take a moment to remember that most people are feeling vulnerable and that I’m not the only one going in there feeling ill-equipped. That really helps me”
I love this tip. It also heightens your ability to spot the people in the room who are completely alone and avoiding eye contact. I say make a beeline for them first, because they’ll appreciate the company.
This is something that I cottoned-on to very quickly at my first blogger meet-up. People (no shade, I’m the exact same) love to talk about themselves! So if you’re particularly terrified of gaps in conversation then practise asking lots and lots of questions.
Steering the conversations towards a topic you’re comfortable with will instantly boost your confidence. It doesn’t need to be about blogging or even the event you’re attending. Ask someone where they got their earrings, what they eat for breakfast or what the last saw at the cinema.
Just don’t delve too deeply into other people’s personal lives unless they make it abundantly clear they want to open up to you.
This is something that Kirsty says can really help if you’re getting hung up on the awkwardness of small talk.
“It’s about taking a helicopter view of your life” she says. You might be staring at a stranger, nodding along and wondering how you can politely get out of this conversation, but try to imagine how quickly this will all be a memory.
“You might think this is going to make me feel sick now, but how will I feel about this at the weekend or next week? That can be a really powerful technique”
I actually think this is a great tip and looking back, I’ve had endless what felt like painful interactions with bloggers who have eventually become great friends and sometimes even turned into future customers of mine.
Now we’re not suggesting that you pretend to be someone you’re not (you’re amazing as you are, obviously) but it can be an interesting exercise to imagine what your hero would do in any given situation.
Picture the most professional and attentive blogger you know. How do they walk into a room? How do they introduce themselves to the guests? Do they approach lonely people and say hello? Kirsty calls this ‘repositioning’ and says it’s all about “getting an extra perspective in the moment”
I personally like to channel someone really down to earth like Bryony Gordon or Fearne Cotton and just try and make everyone laugh and feel at ease in an unavoidably awkward situation.
This might sound really daft and superficial, but try and avoid the voice in your head that is telling you to wear all black and hide in the corner whilst quietly sipping a mojito.
Wearing something bold and interesting is a great conversation starter and it also means that you’ll stick in peoples memories for all the right reasons.
“I spoke to this really successful woman who told me if I was ever networking in a room full of men to wear something bright because it will get you seen. I do think its nice to wear something that is a conversation starter”
So instead of talking about your heavy flow (like I did that time) simply wear a snazzy printed jumpsuit or a fluffy scarf. My personal favourite is a Monki dress I have which is covered in sketches of naked women. It always gets people talking!
I love this post from Fiona! She is ME at blogging events and I reckon, probably quite like you too!
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