I'm guessing you don't love dating events. While they have the potential to be fun and sometimes (surprisingly) are, they are also a source of anxiety and stress for many. You might be worrying about what to wear and who to schlep along with you as a wingman before ever walking in the door. Even after you've successfully convinced a friend to go, you're still left with the question of how to get the most out of the event. Believe it or not, those friendly, shmoozy singles who look like they are having a great time also have the same questions: "How do I make the most out of tonight? What should I do, and how can I focus on finding the right person to connect with?" Let's talk about how you can get the most out of your evening. Here are 5 steps to navigating the dating scene.
1) Scope the location - When you attend an event you need to take some time to look around. Do an intake of what is happening and where you are. I'd suggest you do the following. When the room is feeling full and you have a few minutes before any organized activity begins, stand next to the wall. Scope the room. Look at who is there, who is talking to whom. What is the layout of the location? Where are the food and drinks? Do you know where the bathroom is? It might seem silly, but it's a very important little detail. Become acquainted with the location before looking at the people. You will feel a little more confidence in knowing you can get what you need or go where you need to go at any time. You can also be a resource for others should they need to know where something is. Helping others is one way of connecting with random people you otherwise wouldn't talk to.
2. Scope the singles - Are you the kind of person who waits for someone to approach you? That is one way of meeting people. But what happens when no one approaches you? Or what if people you're not interested in keep approaching you? Instead of waiting for someone to come talk to you, I would prefer that you look around and see who you would like to talk to. Again, stand against a wall where you can survey the entire room. Look around to see who looks like a good person for you to speak with and get to know. Who are you curious about? If you're thinking, "I want to know more about him/her," then you've found someone to try to connect with. Obviously, this is based on a look and not a personality at this point. A certain look is often what people are first drawn to. Have you ever heard someone say, "S/he is not my type."? Sometimes a person can tell that someone is not likely to be a good fit just from looking at them. Is this judgmental? If you're thinking about it only in terms of looks then yes, it's judgmental. However, there are certain things we can tell about a person based on their body or body language. Whether it's the way someone is put together or how they carry themselves, we have an ability to read non-verbal cues. These cues can help us identify whether or not we will connect with someone, or if they are interested in connecting to us. After you've surveyed the room, you now need to identify 1-3 people you would like to get to know.
3. Choose the easiest person to approach first - Now it's time to make your way over to one of them and wait for an opening/create an opening. Who should you start with? Most would answer that you start with the one you're most interested in. I actually take a different approach; I suggest you choose the person who is most available and unengaged with others to start with. Choose the least intimidating situation. Be creative in your approach or just be you -- either way is good. If successful, enjoy! If the attempt is unsuccessful or if you realize the person is not who you want to spend time with, move on to the next person you identified.
4. Plan B - OK. You worked the room and nothing has worked for you yet. It's time to engage plan B. Plan B is that you find someone to talk to and get to know -- even if you aren't particularly interested in dating them. If you can't find the ideal person to connect with, the next best thing to do is to find someone you can connect with. Perhaps this new person will help you to meet someone who is right for you. Even if they don't have a potential date in mind, they may open more doors and introduce you to new people outside of your network of friends. The goal is to meet people, make connections. And while you're figuring out what they can do for you, don't forget to think about what you can do for them. If we all worked hard to help each other, the dating world would be a place built on love, not competition.
5. Keep Calm and Date on - Some events will be more "eventful" than others. If the event you attend doesn't bring you what you need, don't give up on events all together. Events have brought many couples together. Try to let go of any negative experiences. And if you really don't like singles events, don't go! There are other ways to look for a mate.
A previous client tried the suggestions above. He ended up dating a woman from the event for several months. While it didn't end in marriage, it was very close and he was happy he dated someone so on-target. Let's build the dating world on kindness to one another and not on competition. May the events you attend bring you what you're looking for and may you be able to help others find what they are looking for.