Trent over at the Simple Dollar is suggesting ten simple things to do to increase your confidence in public situations. They range from learning to hold your posture up to asking questions -- good stuff! (Although I personally would find it extremely freaky if someone whipped out a flask, took a swig and gargled it around. Well, I'm just saying. Stephen King used to guzzle mouthwash instead when his wife noticed too many liquor bottles.)
I often have to meet strangers in my work, and the first meeting can be uncertain. Here are some tricks I use for bolstering my public persona:
*Wear something distinctive. Handmade jewelry, a cashmere sweater, whatever. In my case, it's often my handmade cowboy boots. They're dressy, beautiful, and I can stand twelve hours or so in them without hurting. This item may end up becoming your signature piece.
*Be the first to step forward and reach your hand out. This signals that you're open (and unafraid -- very important).
*If you've forgotten the person's name that you're meeting, take a friend with-- and introduce them. The person will then automatically mention their own name! (Write it down and/or memorize it this time!)
*If you see a pretty dress, smile, jewelry, whatever on a stranger...compliment it. It will make them feel good -- and won't hurt you a bit. (You'll be surprised, too, how often you bump into this person in the future.)
*Smile....after you're sure your teeth are clean. I wore braces for years as a kid...and am very grateful I did. (Crooked teeth run in the family.) Teeth whiteners are good, to a point. (You don't want to look fake.) Keep gum handy; a travel toothbrush is helpful, too. If I don't have a toothbrush handy, I take a piece of paper in the bathroom, and carefully rub across my teeth, just in case.
*Don't make a huge fuss about what you do -- but do mention it, and do keep business cards handy. Trent suggests saying your name, and letting the rest develop. A great idea.
*Pay attention to what's going on. Who's the person off to the side, who is quietly observing you with bright, intelligent eyes? (The biggest mouth in the group is not necessarily the most interesting person. Nor are they usually the leader.) How are these people interacting with each other? With you? (This is especially interesting when you first arrive -- and they don't know who you are yet.)
And finally --
*Ask questions AND LISTEN TO THE ANSWERS. Your new acquaintances would love to tell you more about themselves and their world! You'll not only have a better idea of your new environment, but you'll get the insider's scoop on great places to eat and visit...great bargains...interesting people and events.
Best of all, you may make some new friends.