How to Mingle at Social Events – When You Don’t Know Anyone

Adulting, Author: Gauri Bhatia

We have all been there.

A family wedding, a friend’s birthday party, an infamous “Meetup”…essentially, a situation in which you don’t know anybody…or , at the very least, you don’t know anybody aside from your date(s). I, as an extroverted introvert (it’s a thing!), am here to help you navigate these tricky scenarios with a few key tips.

Tip 1: Have fun!
Seriously, that’s why you are going to this party/wedding/”Meetup”/whatever! You never know whom you will meet, and people will be more likely to want to talk to you if you look like you are having a great time all on your own. I have met some awesome people just by looking approachable and happy.

Tip 2: Make sure you know the host – or the general purpose of the party or meeting.
If you know your host’s college friends will be there, maybe learn a little bit about where the host went to college. Personal story: I went to our #NAMB brand manager‘s birthday party, where the only person I knew there was the #NAMB founder! I still had a blast and found that night to hold some great memories!

Tip 3: Bring a great gift, cake, or story (or all of the above, if the situation demands it).
If you show up with a conversation starter, guess what? Conversations get started! See below for the story about the cake…

Tip 4: When all else fails, wing it, and/or learn to laugh at yourself.
Another personal story: I once attended a tango party held by expats in New Delhi, where I knew absolutely no one. I was invited by a girl I had met for the first time the night before, who was running very late. After five minutes of self-doubt and hair-pulling, I decided to wing it: Plan “Enter the Party; Pretend I Belong; and Make an Early Exit” (Or EPPIBMEE, for short).

I knocked on the door with false confidence, a brilliant grin and a delicious chocolate cake. I was immediately flummoxed by the door being flung open by two good-looking, tall, European men (I know, the dream, right?). I was then met with double-cheek kisses and tight hugs from the whole group, before being asked who I was and how I got there.

Winging it totally worked in this case. Because I acted like I belonged, everybody else assumed I did too. It definitely helped that the whole group was (and still is) terrifically inclusive and loving.

The “laughing at myself” portion came when I assumed the two guys who opened the door were the ones hosting the party. I handed them the cake, my coat and proceeded to rave about their gorgeous apartment…before catching anyone’s name. We shared a great laugh when the truth came out: I had no idea what kind of party it was, who was hosting it, or whose apartment it was…socially-awkward-meme

Well, long story short, out of this experience, I met some of my now close friends. And spoiler alert: it was exactly where I was supposed to be and I ended up spending five wonderful laughter-filled hours (and I guess now 1.5 years) with people I had originally intended to leave after 15 minutes of stilted conversation.

Bonus Tip: These tips don’t just work for parties where there are other millennials around.
They can work on anyone! Sometimes, members of the previous generation have amazing stories from their respective youths that they are just itching to share.

Once at a function with my extended family, I found out that my family friend’s grandfather had been in jail with Gandhi and that my own grandmother both participated in Gandhi’s Salt March and served in local politics! I never would have known that if I hadn’t chatted up some Indian aunties! And hey, if there aren’t any single millennial men at the wedding, at least you escaped being married off this time! (Sorry, Mumsy, it had to be said.)

Bonus bonus tip:
Seriously, just have fun! I swear it bears repeating! You can do this!

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