Navigating a Crowded Room – Mostly Filled with Strangers

Don’t fret. I’m here for you. You’re not alone, and you can do this.

One cold December week, I was traveling for work to meet with hundreds of colleagues. Some I knew, but most I did not. On the first day, I was excited as the meetings unfolded, as I had a job to do and a function to perform. The hard part came in the evening, when we were expected to socialize at a cocktail reception for six hundred of my closest co-workers.

Minutes before entering the room, a pit formed in my stomach. Feeling like an oddball, silly and alone, I made my way to the door. Suddenly, an executive tapped me on my shoulder. “Do you mind walking in there with me?” she said. “I don’t do well in these situations.”

I was flabbergasted. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. If anyone should have been able to navigate a crowded room, it should have been her, one of the most senior people there. She too, however, was a bit anxious to do it alone. I loved her honesty and authenticity. From that moment on, I have respected her more because of her candor.

So what should we do when we enter and navigate a crowded room?

  1. Take a deep breath; at least 80 percent of the people there are just as nervous as you are.
  2. Come prepared with topics to discuss or experiences to share.
  3. Stand with open body language. Make eye contact.
  4. Leave one hand free at all times. Don’t check your phone out of nervousness or double up on plates or drinks.
  5. Start by scanning the room and looking for someone else who is alone and seems welcoming. Introduce yourself.
  6. Prepare a short elevator pitch as your introduction.
  7. Compliment people. Be engaged when they talk.
  8. Ask them about themselves. People love to talk about themselves.
  9. Ask what they’re excited about or what they’re working on.
  10. Note others’ facial expressions and body language when deciding whether or not to approach them.
  11. Look for opportunities to help others with information or introductions.
  12. Look for eye contact or a nod from others as a signal to introduce yourself.
  13. Ask for advice.
  14. Talk about headlines, but no politics. Keep it positive.
  15. Comment about the location/food/speaker/music. Keep it upbeat.

Here’s what we shouldn’t do:

  1. Look over the shoulder of the person you’re talking to as if someone more interesting may appear.
  2. Try to overemphasize your expressions or look smarter or more boisterous to gain attention. People will see through this.
  3. Get discouraged in the first ten minutes if things aren’t going your way.

You can do this.

Take a deep breath and build your confidence; your lack of it is your only enemy here. You’re a fun, engaging, and interesting person—show everyone who you are. They are the fortunate ones to be able to interact with you!


Dina Mauro has worked in the technology industry for over twenty-five years, twenty with one of the largest IT companies in the world. Through her love for animals, Dina began rescuing dogs, volunteering, and, ultimately, writing.

Dina is the author of A Dose of Tia: How a Woman and Her Rescued Dog Embraced Life Through Volunteering – and How You Can, Too. Initially, as a personal, heartfelt gift to her sons, but later published for the public, Dina went on to pen You’ve Got This! The Grad’s Guide to the Big, Rich, Magnificent Life You Deserve.

She also volunteers at Denver Pet Partners, Swedish Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital Colorado, along with her three sons.

Dina lives in Denver with her husband, Bob, and their three sons, Owen, Ethan, and Aiden.


As a parent, author Dina Mauro was so hyper-focused on competing and comparing her children to other children that she almost lost sight of what they required to thrive. She realized that when they thrive, everything in their lives falls abundantly into place.

You’ve Got This! The Grad’s Guide to the Big, Rich, Magnificent Life You Deserve steers the reader through critical “markers” along life’s way: improving oneself, conquering obstacles, achieving goals, and cultivating relationships. Other stops on the journey include heading off to college, entering the work world, making decisions, managing technology, speaking in public, and many more.

You’ve Got This! is a long-overdue guidebook that illuminates forty-seven achievable strategies and real-world advice for not just living—but thriving! Now grads have the roadmap for facing challenges that left untouched can become big distractions to an exceptional life. 


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