While it’s great to take initiative to meet people, you also want to look approachable.
Although this sounds like common sense, you’d be surprised at how many mean muggers or aloof-looking people I come across at social scenes. The girl consumed with her smartphone, the guy who’s standing alone on the outskirts of the crowd frowning trying to look like a “Bad Ass”, I could go on and on.
The point is if you’re going to a social event, engage! Whether it’s through verbal or nonverbal language, there are ways to show that you’re open to being approached so people can get to know you.
The first and easiest thing you can do is smile.
Smiling is simple and thanks to mirror neurons it gives off positive vibes, literally. You can change people’s emotions by your body language! It’s crazy!
Emotions can be affected by simply observing body language cues from others in the form of facial expressions or body movements. Thanks to mirror neurons, if someone sees you smiling they’ll feel associative emotions like joy and happiness. Think about it, isn’t it pretty hard to not smile back at someone or laugh when a baby is smiling at you?
The other important aspect of smiling is that it also positively affects you, internally. An experiment had subjects put a pen in their mouths (to simulate a smile) while reading funny books. The other group of subjects read the funny books without the pen in their mouths.
The group with the pen in their mouths and who had a “forced smile” found the funny books more entertaining and enjoyable. This experiment has been validated numerous times across the world. Smiling is universal and makes you feel happy!
Making eye contact and flashing a smile at someone is one of the easiest nonverbal indicators that you are approachable. It “tells” the other person you’re ready to engage. The great thing about being at a party or other social event besides a bar, people go there expecting to chat, be social, and engage with others. No polite, regular person is going to reject a smile in a setting like this.