Networking 101 for the socially awkward

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If you haven’t already guessed, this is me. I have compiled a list of my suggestions to help you navigate a room easily and without incident. While it won’t guarantee a perfect performance, it will at least save you from the WTF stares and get you invited back.

1. Select an outfit that you have already worn to other occasions that makes you stand out from the crowd in a very subtle yet chic way. You will appear very relaxed without even trying. This is not the time to be trying out a new trend, hairstyle or make-up technique. You need to practice that out on the people that you could really care less about first.

2. Keep all hand gestures to a strict minimum otherwise you will just start knocking shit over – only the real pros can ever really recover from that one. You are not a pro yet. Hold onto your carefully selected and expensive bag with both hands in a ladylike fashion just to be safe.

3. Clean out said carefully selected and expensive bag prior to the event. If you don’t have to dig through your mail, lip gloss collection or janitor-style key ring to get at your business cards, you can avoid a long and awkward moment for everyone involved.

4. Always deflect the line of questioning back to the person who you are speaking with. This avoids unnecessary stuttering on your part and people secretly love to talk about themselves without realizing how much they are actually doing it. You will seem very engaging. Win Win.

5. Avoid the buffet at all costs unless you are comfortable with the risk of having a random stranger perform the Heimlich maneuver on you. You are not hungry or thirsty. You can wait until you leave. I enjoy a dessert tray as much as the next person but go buy a bag of cookies at the drug store on the way home – always tastes about the same anyways.

6. If photos are being taken, do not complain about your fat ass, terrible hair or sullen skin while giggling. Just shut up and go with it. Smile casually and be thankful that someone wants to take your photo in the first place. People are really only looking at themselves in the photo anyways and only notice your presence in passing.

7. And the most important piece of advice for the socially awkward? Do not be the first person to arrive or the last one to leave. And always pull a George Costanza and leave on a high note while graciously thanking your host. Works each and every time.

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