1. Approach a group of people you don't know (cold)
How you approach a group depends upon the perspective you take. When you feel uncomfortable, it's because you are out of your comfort zone. That's ok. Change your relationship to the situation and you will change the way you feel about it. If you're nervous, that just means you are in touch with your feelings. That makes you human.
First person perspective — I am an outsider. Brings up childhood insecurities of trying to be accepted and fears of rejection.
Brand perspective — We are all at the same party. Seeing yourself as part of a shared experience. Your acceptance is assumed.
When you are at a networking event, the default is to look at a group of people you don't know and perceive yourself as an outsider. Thinking of yourself this way brings up feelings from times in the past when you felt you didn't belong. Those feelings aren't bad, they're normal. They just aren't helpful in a networking situation.
I've noticed that some people are very good at faking confidence in these situations. The problem with faking it is that you are ignoring your feelings. When you ignore your feelings, you ignore other people's feelings too. We connect with one another through our bodies. If we are all ignoring our feelings then our connections are weak and noisy.
Confidence is certainty that you know what you are doing. Here's how to access the courage to approach a group of people you don't know by imagining yourself as the party host.
Step 1: Change the way you feel by changing your perception of the situation.
If you are in the same room, then you are in the same environment. If you are in the same environment, then you are not an outsider. Use your imagination to transform the event into your party. As the host of your party, you want to find out what everyone needs and how you can help them.
Step 2: Maintain your composure by limiting your focus.
Walk up to the group and let it open up to you. If it doesn't open up, make a sudden move or sound. Jump or bob and weave. It doesn't matter, just do it swiftly. You'll get noticed and maybe even a couple laughs. At one of my trainings, a man with a thick accent walked around the group saying, "hello guys. hello guys. hello guys." Because it was at a training, I had instructed the group to not open up. But, he was so funny that the group couldn't help it.
Step 3: Stay centered and grounded by breathing into your feet.
Don't worry about your pitch yet. When they all look at you, say “hello, my name is...” Acknowledge them for letting you in. You made it!