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How to Make a Lasting Impression at Social Events

Making a lasting impression at social events is crucial for anyone looking to build meaningful connections, whether you're a young professional, a social enthusiast, or just someone who enjoys mingling at parties. Social event etiquette plays a vital role in ensuring that you leave a positive and memorable mark on those you meet. In today's competitive world, mastering the art of social interaction can set you apart, enhance your personal brand, and open doors to new opportunities.

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In this post, I’ll explore why social event etiquette is important, explain how to make a lasting impression, and share essential tips to help you stand out. Whether you’re new to the concept or looking to refine your skills, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to shine at any social gathering.

What is Social Event Etiquette and Why Does it Matter?

Social event etiquette can be described as the set of rules and behaviors expected at social gatherings. It includes everything from how to introduce yourself, engage in conversation, and handle various social situations gracefully. Understanding social event etiquette is important because it helps you navigate social settings with ease, making you more approachable and likable.

This is a highly sought-after topic among my clients, many of whom are young professionals. They often lack the experience and practice needed to navigate social events effectively. Shyness and self-doubt can further discourage them from stepping into such situations, limiting their personal and professional growth. By learning to master social event etiquette, they can overcome these barriers, boost their confidence, and open doors to valuable opportunities and connections.

How to Make a Lasting Impression at Social Events

1. Dress Appropriately

Your appearance is the first thing people notice, making it crucial to dress appropriately for the occasion. Initial impressions are formed within the first few seconds of meeting someone, and research from Harvard Medical School highlights that clothing and personal appearance significantly impact these first impressions, influencing perceptions of competence, trustworthiness, and professionalism. Therefore, choosing an outfit that reflects your personal style while adhering to the event’s dress code is essential for making a positive and lasting impression.

Research the event’s dress code and choose an outfit that reflects your personal style while adhering to the expected standards. A polished and well-put-together look can boost your confidence and make a positive first impression.


  • For formal events, opt for classic, elegant attire. Less is more in terms of accessories, colours or patterns.
  • For casual gatherings, aim for stylish outfits that are comfortable yet still look neat and professional.
  • Avoid overly flashy or inappropriate clothing, such as attire that is too revealing or unsuitable for the occasion.

2. Arrive on Time

Punctuality is a sign of respect for your host and fellow guests. Arriving on time demonstrates your reliability and commitment to the event. It also gives you the opportunity to settle in and start conversations before the event gets too crowded.

I always plan to arrive early to networking events because it provides several strategic advantages. Being early allows me to familiarize myself with the venue and feel more comfortable in the environment before it gets crowded. It also gives me the opportunity to engage with other early arrivals, who are often key influencers or organizers.

3. Be Confident and Approachable

Confidence is key to making a lasting impression. Stand tall, make eye contact, and smile. A friendly attitude makes you more approachable and invites others to engage with you.

It’s always good to have prepared a well-crafted introduction or elevator pitch, but remember that nonverbal communication will set the tone and leave a lasting impression more than anything you say.  Keep smiling and use friendly, open gestures with your hands and stance. Focus on listening attentively, as this attracts people. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

4. Master Introductions

Introduce yourself with a firm handshake and a clear, friendly greeting. Remember to listen to the other person’s name and use it in conversation to build rapport.

While introducing yourself with your role, company, and location is standard, adding something unique and unrelated to your job can make the interaction more relaxed and memorable. For example, you could say, “This is my first time at this venue. Have you been here before?” or, if you’re at an event with food, use it as a conversation starter: “I love these meatballs. Have you tried them?” Listen for relatable points of connection and use the person’s name when speaking to them. This not only helps you remember their name but also makes the conversation more personal.

5. Engage in Meaningful Conversations

Focus on quality over quantity when it comes to conversations. Ask open-ended questions, listen actively, and show genuine interest in what others have to say. Avoid dominating the conversation or steering it towards controversial topics.


  • Get ready with some easy conversation starters. Before the event, do a bit of research. Pick out a few people you want to chat with. Think about topics you both might like to talk about. Being prepared this way can help you feel more confident and ready to talk to new people at the event.

6. Show Respect and Courtesy

Respecting others’ space, opinions, and time is fundamental to good social event etiquette. Be courteous and considerate in your interactions, and always thank your host before leaving.


  • Avoid interrupting or speaking over others.
  • Respect personal space.
  • Express gratitude to the host and other guests. Greet with the hosts when you arrive and say goodbye when you leave. It’s a nice way to show appreciation for the invitation.

Tips and Reminders for Social Event Etiquette

Even with a solid understanding of social event etiquette, it’s helpful to keep a few key reminders in mind:

  1. Stay Off Your Phone: Focus on the people around you rather than checking your phone constantly.
  2. Follow Up: If you made a new connection with someone, make sure you follow up after the event, within 24 hours ideally.
  3. Be Yourself: Authenticity is attractive and helps build genuine connections.


List of networking do's and don'ts

Mastering social event etiquette can significantly enhance your personal and professional life. By dressing appropriately, arriving on time, being confident and approachable, mastering introductions, engaging in meaningful conversations, and showing respect and courtesy, you can make a lasting impression at any social event. Remember, the key is to be genuine and considerate in all your interactions.

If you’re looking to further refine your social skills and leave an unforgettable impression at your next event, consider exploring my digital etiquette ebook “From Shy to Shine” and online courses. These resources are designed to help you become your best self through good manners, refined style, and confident presence.

Ready to elevate your social game? Check out our digital products and start your journey to personal refinement today!

For more tips on mastering social event etiquette and enhancing your personal brand, explore our online courses and digital etiquette books. Sign up for a free consultation to learn how we can help you become the best version of yourself.

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Kristina Szabova is a certified Etiquette Consultant and member of the International Association of Professional Etiquette Consultants.