How To Work A Room®:
A Guide to Successfully Managing Your Mingling
In the last few years, blog posts and articles entitled “How To Work A Room®” have appeared which contain advice that ranges from useful to useless and counter-productive. As the author of the classic, How To Work a Room®, now in its well-over 40th printing and in its 3rd iteration, I’m appalled by some of the advice that I’ve read. One prominent online magazine quoted a source who suggested “talk to the furniture for practice.” Really! How silly! How useless!
Walking into a room full of people, especially strangers, is daunting for 90% of adults.
Whether it’s a holiday party, a business networking event, a convention, a fundraiser or a reunion, most people are not mingling mavens whether or not they self-identify as shy. Yet, our careers, businesses and social lives are enhanced by our ability to meet, mingle, schmooze, interact and make social and business connections.
Be sure to prepare:
- A self-introduction. It’s NOT an elevator pitch. It’s 7-9 seconds and is a pleasantry.
- Our attitudes. Shift from wondering who you will meet to thinking about who you will be fortunate to “get to” meet.
- Conversation. Read the paper on or off-line and have 3-5 items of potential conversation to fall back on. (Latest movie blockbuster, sports championship, community project or restaurant opening, etc).
- Cards. Carry business cards. Make sure they are standard size and that the font is big enough to read. It’s a viable way to exchange information. The technology of zapping each other’s phones or some other device dedicated to entering/recording contact information is worthless if it doesn’t follow an actual real – time conversation.
Before you enter the room, take a deep breath and observe. Where are the food, the bar, the gathering spots, the trafficked areas? Do you see anyone you know who you should greet?
Read Name Tags. Wear yours on the right-hand side. It’s the line of sight with the hand you extend for a handshake. That makes it easy for other people to read your nametag. No one struggles with the embarrassment of forgetting a name. Nametags provide material for conversation about that person. As you extend your hand and introduce yourself, use the person’s name. That will also help you remember names. You can ask a question about the company, location or indicate that you know someone at the company or are familiar with the products.
Reintroduce Yourself to People. If you haven’t seen people for a while, it helps to greet them with your name as you shake hands. They will generally respond in kind. Then no one has to struggle with forgotten names.
Look for the Stand-Alone Person. The person, who is speaking to no one, would welcome your conversation. Just because someone is standing alone doesn’t mean he or she is a snob or “unimportant”. People who are alone may be shyer than you.
Be approachable. A smile and eye contact let people know you’re open to meeting them.
Start with Small Talk. What you have in common makes for ideal icebreakers: The venue, the food, the event, the theme, the sponsor or host.
Attend Events with a “Buddy.” Choose someone in a non-competitive field and cross-promote and introduce each other.
Warning: Be sure to choose a companion who will introduce you with the same level of enthusiasm that you have given them.
Lose the Glue. Most people avoid walking over to two people in conversation who appear to be “glued” together. To indicate that you are approachable, face the room, not each other. Move to opposite sides of the room and mingle.
Extricate and Circulate. According to manners experts, no matter what country we live in, one must learn to end conversations. Extricating oneself gracefully from a conversation is a must. “Well it was great to talk to you about….” Summarize the main thrust of your chat. Move about one quarter of the room away. No sense in standing in the same area near the person you just left. Circulate around the room. Find another solo or join a group. Stand on the periphery of the group and when acknowledged, step in.
Allow for Serendipity. It is the unexpected bonus that happens to you because of good timing. Because you are in that room, at the event or in that venue, opportunities will appear…which is my theory of marketing, meeting and mingling: “You Never Know!” Attend every event with an open mind.
BONUS Tip: In this day and age, we are wise to leave our tools and toys of technology out of sight and/or in the “off” position. Unless we are waiting for a new heart, we can live in the moment and be disconnected for a little while. That includes the BlueTooth, The Smart Phone, The Cell Phone, IPOD and the rest of the digi-gadgets. The message you give when you “work” a room with your Bluetooth attached to your ear or checking your Smart Phone is: “No one I’m talking to is as important as whoever may be trying to contact me.” That leaves an impression; but not the one you may want to make.
Be a Savvy Networker.
Acknowledge people who have given you time, leads, advice. Keep them “in the loop.”
Match-make people you know with job leads, contacts, prospects and referrals. It comes back.
Stay in touch with your network when you need nothing from it. That makes it easier to get in touch when we need help/advice/leads.
Follow Up with the people whose cards you collected. Send an email; invite them to be “linked-in”. If you don’t devise a system to organize the follow-up process, all is lost. Use the RoAne “TAP” method. Be Timely, Appropriate, Persistent. If we “work” rooms and don’t follow up, we will not have netted a network to work!
Make It Your Goal to Have Fun! People are attracted to others who are enjoying themselves. A sense of humor will help you manage and survive myriad situations because laughter is a great medicine and makes for magnificent mingling!
Find more valuable information in revised bestseller, How To Work A Room® , by author and keynote speaker, Susan RoAne — now available in local and online bookstores and for Kindle or your IPAD. To find out more information and How To Work A Room® Tips, visit Susan’s youtube channel.
©2012SusanRoAne Reprint only with the permission of author email@example.com
Susan RoAne is a best selling and international Keynote speaker.
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