How to THRIVE at Social Events While Sober

These Tips Will Help You Shine Without Having a Single Drink.

Photo by Jakob Dalbjörn on Unsplash

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attend to with diligence.” ―Abigail Adams

Social events are going to be one of the first things that are going to cause you to pause as you begin your journey to alcohol consciousness. The thought of being at a party without any type of alcohol is going to be absolutely terrifying.

No need to worry. There are a number of things you can do to put yourself at ease and make this experience much more natural and less scary with time.

While I will admit, at first, it will be a bit of a challenge for you to feel comfortable. With a little bit of practice and focus, you can be a social butterfly in no time.

SHOW UP EARLY

In the past, when I was drinking, I would always try to show up a bit later than others to make sure I had a good buzz going and not have to spend too much time with people that I may not like in the first place.

What this often turned into was me arriving in a room full of people that were already engaged in conversation and me trying to find ways to fit myself in that made sense. This would work sometimes, while at other times, I would find myself standing around for large amounts of time trying to find someone with whom to speak.

Now that I’m alcohol-conscious, I show up much earlier than before and this has made a tremendous difference in how the event goes. When you are early, typically one of the only people in the room at the time will be the host of the event.

As the host, this person will generally feel obliged to speak with you. This will allow you the opportunity to have a contact of high importance in the building, as there is no doubt that this person will know a lot of other people at the event.

By engaging in conversation with this person early, you will also learn various pieces of information that can prove interesting as it relates to the purpose of the networking event that you can then store away for use in conversation with others for the rest of the night.

Since there will be so few others there during the beginning of the event, you will have the opportunity to truly engage in meaningful conversations with the attendees instead of having to worry about so many people trying to get into the conversation to make a point.

Without alcohol slowing down your neurotransmitters, you’ll also be able to truly engage with someone on a deeper level than just the surface conversations that you probably would’ve had in the past, as well as remember important information about them that you can bring up later.

As time progresses, and you see this person again later in the night, being able to recall this information will probably impress them dramatically and make that connection much stronger than it would’ve been had you been drinking and trying to remember their information.

All this could turn into making connections with four or five people early in the networking event that you could then turn to later when you may need someone familiar to reconnect with or help others find someone that they can talk to at the networking event as well.

HAVE A NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE IN YOUR HAND

You are going to feel weird the first time you go to a social event and not have a drink in your hand. Due to our mind and body’s physical connection to surroundings and our repetitive behaviors associated with the learning effects of dopamine, this is going to prove a bit odd at first.

Your mind is going to be so used to always having some type of drink being at these functions that the first time you try to do one without it, your body is going to tell you that something is wrong.

You can easily fix this by grabbing a beverage from the bartender that will put your mind at ease by satisfying this request. You can have any non-alcoholic drink that you prefer with the caveat that there are some dangers with non-alcoholic beer.

The two drinks that I always suggest, however, are either club soda or some type of diet soda.

The reason I mention these two is because your mind is probably going to want you to continue to drink something for the length of the event, and you don’t want anything like juice or regular soda that could add hundreds of extra calories to you over the course of a 2–3-hour event.

Also, many times, having something that is carbonated will satisfy your tastebuds desire to have something “exotic” or bubbly tingle the throat. Many alcoholic beverages will give your throat and tongue a bit of a tickle, so these two beverage choices will help create that same feeling.

Your mind will recognize the glass in hand as your usual item when you are at networking events and begin to slow down and operate as you would if you were drinking. This will help you feel more calm and relaxed throughout the evening and help you engage in conversation much more easily.

SCOPE THE ROOM FOR SOMEONE WHO IS ALONE AND GO TALK TO THEM.

This is a subtle trick that has always proven beneficial to me in networking events. Very few people like networking events, as most people see them as a necessary evil.

We do them because people tell us we should if we don’t want to miss out on valuable opportunities for networking and meeting great people.

Therefore, there are probably a slew of people there who either don’t want to be there or don’t feel comfortable at all in those surroundings…just like you.

This is great for you, as these people can be your best friends at these events, as they are usually the ones who often are the most interesting in getting to know.

Many times individuals who are networking “pros” are often just looking to glad-hand and pass out cards promoting something of their own, while these more reserved people are generally easier to talk to and will be generally interested in getting to know you as opposed to looking around the room for the next person they can meet.

When you spot someone at the event that looks like they fall into this category, go introduce yourself. Since they are probably as nervous as you and just there out of pure guilt from someone else or their sense of responsibility to their career, they will be more than happy to speak with you.

What you often find out about these people is that they are great in a 1-on-1 interaction.

Many people are.

Because of this, you will then give yourself a chance to warm up in a 1-on-1 interaction with someone to get to know them and work on your conversational skills.

Conversations are often like warming up a car. You just have to get the motor going a bit, and you’ll be surprised at how easily things will flow from there.

By talking to this person 1-on-1, you are also alleviating a lot of their stress as no one wants to be the person at a networking event who is standing by himself or herself while everyone else is talking.

Since you got there early and were able to begin to make friends when most people hadn’t established contacts yet, you then put yourself in a position similar to almost the host of the party, as you will have numerous other connections that you can make between people to help drive conversations and connections.

BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF

This is the most important aspect of this process. The reality is that when you first attempt to network without drinking, you are going to feel immensely awkward.

Hell…networking is awkward enough with drinking, so you can imagine how awkward it is going to feel without it.

However, just as your body learns to adapt to anything with enough time and practice, you have to give yourself time to readjust to your new world and learn how to make small talk without alcohol being your instigator.

As shared in Things You Will Have to RELEARN When You Stop Drinking, your body is so used to doing things with alcohol that you are going to have to almost completely train it back from scratch for it to learn to do things without it.

The good thing about this, however, is that just as your mind was able to make drunk neurotransmitter connections to ingrain these lessons into your subconscious, you can reprogram your mind to begin making new connections to teach yourself how to be comfortable in these situations without that liquid courage.

This is not going to happen overnight, however, and you are going to have to get through some awkward conversations and sweaty moments for a little bit before you are going to start feeling truly comfortable in this setting without alcohol.

The great thing about this, however, will be that once you are able to force your way through this awkward and intimidating phase, you will begin to find yourself slowly becoming more and more comfortable in your own skin.

Over time, this comfort will turn into confidence, as your body’s physiological receptors will become used to you being in this situation without alcohol and will be more relaxed knowing that you are very familiar with this set of circumstances.

As you continue to push yourself to step outside of your comfort zone, you’ll be amazed at how you’ll soon find yourself actually enjoying networking events.

Couple this with your newfound confidence gained from your sobriety and the world of networking will be yours to master in no time.