In the past year or so I’ve been hitting industry events across the globe – Sydney, Vancouver, Toronto – but, I have yet to fly solo. Each time I think I might have to go it alone the host has generously offered me a plus 1 or if they haven’t, I’ve bitten the bullet and asked for one. I don’t consider myself to be an overly shy person (quite the opposite in fact) but there is something so daunting to me about going to a party alone.
It’s not just parties either. A couple years ago I was alone in San Francisco on my way back to Vancouver from Sydney. I was fine all day shopping, touring, sitting in cafes all on my own. Then dinner time rolled around. I wasn’t in the mood to finish off my glorious day sitting in the back corner at McDonald’s so, I decided I would brave dining solo.
I picked out a nice Thai restaurant that looked like a few of the tables were already full. Turns out, it was the staff sitting at those tables and they sat me at the very front of the restaurant beside a window facing the street. It couldn’t have been a more obvious “she’s eating alone” or “she’s been stood up.” I didn’t even have a magazine with me. I survived.
Yesterday I came across a great list on Harper’s Bazaar on how to survive a party alone. If only I’d had this list years ago! Take a read and I guarantee you’ll be ready – or at least intrigued – to brave a party alone.
1.) Be prepared: Do a little research and find out who else is attending. I always inquire about VIP guests, and if it’s a sit-down dinner, I ask if there will be any other editors attending. Once you know who is going to be there, you can pick out a few approachable names to introduce yourself to when you arrive. This also goes for house or holiday parties—most hosts love to share who is on their well-crafted guest list. Any event invites received via Facebook always makes this an easy task.
2.) Dress appropriately: Make sure you’re dressed comfortably and properly for the occasion. There’s nothing worse than feeling underdressed or overdressing, which can zap your confidence as soon as you enter the room. Most post-work cocktail parties don’t really require a major dress, more a fashionable ensemble with a day-to-night addition like killer heels, bold jewelry or red lipstick. Cocktails later in the evening (and later in the week), might call for a quick stop at home to change into your go-to LBD. Also, black tie doesn’t always mean floor length, but go for a truly dressy dress if you go short. I often look at pictures from the event the year before to gauge my look when I am unsure. When in doubt, ask the host!
3.) Ask the host to make introductions: An easy way to make a connection is by having your host or hostess (or in my case, a publicist) make an introduction with someone who is involved in the event. You both have the party in common, so start there. Talk about the food, the wine, the decor, even the fellow guests if you must!
4.) Have an ice breaker: It could be as easy as complimenting someone’s shoes or hair. Flattery is truly the perfect way to start a conversation.
5.) Hang by the bar: It’s usually the most highly-trafficked area at an event and full of the most relaxed people. Join the crowd for a drink, but be careful not to drink your loneliness away.
6.) Bare all the details: Don’t be afraid to say something a little out there or personal to a group of guests to truly break the ice and start a possible friendship. Last night, for instance, a guy I had dated sent me a rather embarrassing text that was meant for another girl. I used it to my advantage and showed other guests at the table his faux pas, to which we all had a nice laugh.