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How to Rock an Event Alone

When I moved to Vancouver in 2016, I was determined to build a professional and personal network, so I attended all kinds of events. Partly for work, but sometimes just out of interest. For example, events hosted by the Vancouver Business Babes, Chambers of Commerce, Brainstation or other local organizations I found on Eventbrite or Social Media to connect with women and business owner and learn about business practices in Vancouver. Looking back, it really helped me expand my network, and I learned not only how to attend events by myself, but how to enjoy them. Because believe me, my first few events weren’t exactly a success either and I also felt really uncomfortable at times.


Colorful threads creating a network

So let’s start with the most obvious question first: Why should I attend an event alone?


Why to Attend an Event Alone

The reasons for attending an event or conference on your own are diverse: it allows you to expand your network and encourages you to network proactively, it promotes independence and adaptability, it allows you to focus on sessions and workshops that align precisely with your interests and professional goals, it increases your visibility and offers an enhanced learning opportunity.


After the why comes the how, so here are a few tips on how to successfully participate in an event on your own:


How to Attend an Event Alone


Feel comfortable to stand alone

You don’t have to talk to someone all the time. Sometimes I like to just stand there, observe what’s going on, and take it all in. Eventually, someone will approach you or you can take the initative to talk to someone.


Remember that most people are in the same position as you are

We always think that everyone else is absolutely confident, knows exactly what they’re doing, and don’t know the fears that surround you. That’s definitely not the case, I’m 100% sure of that. We all have our insecurities, so take this as a reminder to your next event and maybe make the first step.


Go prepared and know your why

Be clear about why you are there, what you want to talk to people about, and what you want to take away from the event. Good preparation for an event and especially a conference is important and always gives me a little confidence boost.


Talk to three new people

Quality over quantity! This is very important when it comes to networking. Have 2–3 fruitful conversations, connections that will help you with your network, your work, a project or are just be an inspiration or an interesting conversation. Make real connections! And make sure to follow up with them over the next couple of days.


Put on your power outfit that makes you feel comfortable and strong

Nothing is worse than standing in the corner and picking at your dress, skirt, blouse or pants! Chose an outfit that makes you feel comfortable and strong!


Conversation Starters


To expand on the topic of creating meaningful conversations at events, here are two different approaches, depending on the event/conference you are attending.


When you start a conversation, it’s important that you clearly convey the reason you’re there.

Personally, I take a direct approach and say, “Hello my name is Nina, I work for [company] and the reason I’m here today is that we have launched a new initiative focused on [highlight benefits of initiative for conversation partner].” That way, the other person knows exactly what I represent and what the benefits of talking to me might (or might not) be. It’s a very short elevator pitch. If I’m going to an event that has nothing to do with business, I might just say “Hi, my name is Nina and I’m here because I’m curious to learn more about [xx].”


If you are new to the subject, share it that way.

The fact that you are in a learning process is nothing to hide or be ashamed of, and the other person would notice it sooner or later anyway. So if you disclose that you are new to the industry, interested in the topic of the event, open to learning new things, want to expand your horizons, or are here to expand your network, those are all good reasons to attend an event, and an exciting conversation or opportunity may come out of it as well. This is something I’m still working on, and just recently I had to remind myself that I simply can’t have the same wealth of knowledge as someone who has been in my industry for 30 years.


 

Do you have any suggestions or advices that has helped you at an event?

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