You’re scheduled to go to a networking event (either your signed yourself up or an employer registered you). You’ve never been before. You’re new to town. You’re going alone. Who’s been in that situation before? Well … point that Blake-Sheldon-flexing-pointer-finger right over my head. That was me on Wednesday.

Even with 20 years of moving, meeting new people, and engaging new work teams, I still felt slight apprehension as I walked solo up to the closed doors of the 100 Women Wise Breakfast Forum. There was definitely a prayer in my heart that I would see warm faces and feel an open atmosphere on the other side. But I knew the burden of making the event wonderful was on me – not the organizers, not the table hosts, nor the other guests.

So to you future workshop/forum/seminar/session attendees, here are quick tips for rocking it solo.

LLK_TipsSoloSeminarBe friendly. Smile, look people in the eye and introduce yourself. Do it with the first person you see, and then the second. With the first nervous seconds out the way, it will get easier.

Share. Be generous. Share your space. Share your pen. Share your breath mints. But most of all share the discussion. Listen to others as they give input. Soak up the wisdom they’ve gained through experience you may not have.

 Say something. You should contribute in some way, too. Avoid any temptation to just “sit and listen” during open discussions. If you are unsure if you have any insights worth sharing, ask a question instead or say thank you for a good point made.

Challenge yourself. Task yourself to identify at least one thing from the event to implement in your life. If you go and don’t do anything with what you learned, or with what you were inspired to do, you have essentially wasted time and money.

Follow up. Make an effort to connect with at least one person and send them an email or call them after the event to tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them and hope to do so again. Add to your network!

A big thank you to Leadership Louisville and Today’s Woman for hosting the 100 Women Wise series. I walked away inspired and energized after the remarks given by Amy Hess (Special Agent in Charge, FBI) and will definitely “raise my hand.” See you at the next one!