Networking / Work Transition

Mingling Made Easy

How to Work a Room

You always have something to offer, no matter the audience.

You always have something to offer, no matter the audience.

Networking for Women in Business

Do you find yourself stuck in awkward silences with members of your own family? Whether you want to improve your social skills in your business or personal life, Susan RoAne, keynote speaker and best-selling author of the newly revised How to Work a Room (Collins, 2007), can help. In this LifeScript exclusive, RoAne gives the low-down on how to feel at ease, meet new people and form new relationships – no matter what social situation you find yourself in.

The Benefits
Savvy social skills are essential for business executive women who attend conferences and high-powered meetings. But those in the workforce aren’t the only ones who can benefit from networking know-how. Whether you’re at a wedding, birthday party or casual barbeque, working a room with charm and pizzazz will ensure everyone remembers you. You’ll have a blast meeting new people, and you’ll make new friends and contacts along the way.

Prepare
Think of it as studying for a test: Your work begins before you show up to the class. You’ll ace the next event with this study guide:

Short Term
1. If you’re dreading your second cousin’s niece’s graduation or your office’s dull company picnic, change your mindset. “Instead of thinking ‘I don’t want to waste time,’ think ‘I wonder who I’m going to meet,’” RoAne says. “Think of it as an opportunity.”

2. Practice introducing yourself. Keep the introduction around seven to nine seconds, and tailor it to the event. For example, if you’re taking a Spanish class, mention why you’re interested in the language: “Hi, I’m Vanessa Taylor. I’m visiting Mexico in six months, and I want to make sure I’m prepared.” At a social party, start with something funny, like this suggestion from RoAne’s book: “Don’t these desserts look decadent? Hi, I’m George Costanza; chocoholic.” (Check out susanroan.com for more tips like this.)

3. No matter the credentials or accomplishments of those in the room, remember that you too have something to offer. To boost your confidence, brainstorm your assets pre-party. What are you interested in? What are your skills? Reminding yourself of your good points will make you feel more at ease, even when you’re introduced to big-shots and CEOs.

4. Research online; if you’re going to a professional trade show, look for relevant facts about the organization. If it’s a social event, look for interesting trivia about the venue.

5. Follow the dress-code, but be creative. “Help people talk to you,” RoAne suggests. An interesting hat, a colorful blouse or an exotic necklace are all great conversation starters.

Long Term
1. Just say yes. If your friends invite you to a concert but you’ve never heard of the band, go with them anyway. New experiences make you a more interesting person, and will give you a new story to bring up in conversation.

2. Build a bank of conversation starters by reading the newspaper every day. “A good conversationalist is well read, well-versed and well-rounded,” RoAne explains in How to Work a Room. “He or she knows what is going on in the world and can talk about it.” Catching up on current events and being knowledgeable in a variety of general topics will help you make meaningful contributions to conversations.

At the Event
1
. Don’t arrive later than 15 minutes after the posted time. If you get there early, the room will walk into you. If you come late, people will already be mid-conversation when you arrive.

2. What happens if everyone is already in groups when you get there? Sometimes the event’s host will introduce you to others – but don’t rely on this. Find a group of at least three or four people who are animated and having fun, and stand in the periphery. When the opportunity arises, nod and make a pleasantry. Another tip: Be honest and don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know anyone there. RoAne remembers a friend who approached groups with a big smile on her face and simply asked “May I join you?” No one ever replied, “No, we don’t want you.”

3. Have no idea how to start a conversation? If you’re in the same room, you already have something in common. Inquire as to how they know the host, comment on the food or ask if they traveled far to get there. Identify some common ground: Maybe you both like to swim or have a daughter who’s engaged.

4. Talk to strangers. Yes, you’re putting your ego on the line every time you approach someone new, but this is the best way to create social and business opportunities. “The rewards in life go to the risk-takers,” RoAne says. If your prospect doesn’t seem interested in the conversation, politely excuse yourself and move on. The person you think is “rejecting” you may just be preoccupied with his or her personal life.

5. Really listen. Make an effort to remember the person’s name, as well as what you discuss during the conversation. “The hint to remembering isn’t having a great memory,” RoAne says. “It’s about listening when people speak.” And don’t forget the other basics of good listening, like making eye contact and using receptive body language.

6. Be sincere. Working a room can yield tremendous personal and professional gains. But whatever your goals are, keep in mind that “The people who are ultimately the most successful at working a room are those who genuinely like, respect and trust other people,” RoAne explains in her book.

Work the World
Even if you don’t have a social or business event coming up, there are still plenty of potential friends and business contacts in your life. You were born into a network; just look around you. You have neighbors, family friends, classmates, and coworkers. Even familiar faces at the gym and video store count as your network.

Your social skills will help you wherever you are, even if you’re not in a typical room. Use them to make new friends at a park, a bank, a baseball game, a bookstore, or on a plane. Everything – even running to the grocery store for a quart of milk – is an opportunity to meet someone new. If you have to go somewhere anyway, you might as well go with the intention of having a good time.

“Woody Allen said that 80 percent of success is showing up, but showing up is not enough,” RoAne says. “You have to participate.”

Reprint from LifeScript.com

 

ClubCorp

Experience a place where the goal is to “build relationships and enrich lives”.  A place that can also serve as your office away from your office, a special retreat to share a glass of wine with a friend, or somewhere to enjoy a round of golf with a spouse, colleague or business prospect. Our partner ClubCorp has an exclusive offer to help you do just that!  ClubCorp is the largest, most prestigious group of private business and country clubs in the world.  

w2wlink.com is partnering with ClubCorp to extend an exclusive invitation for the w2wlink.com community to be a "Member for a Day."   
Make this w2wlink.com Members Only benefit work for you.  Become a ClubCorp Member for the Day!

Join the thousands of other professional women and experience how a ClubCorp Club could make a difference in your life!

Share with others:

Smart Comment

Add Your Smart Comment

About the Author

Carly Young, 

is a freelance writer who lives in the Los Angeles area.

Related Articles

Get Inspired

Free w2wlink Newsletter...

w2wlink Newsletter

Twice weekly newsletters with articles from the experts, and member access to site articles daily. Learn More

Get Results

Actionable Learning...

Professional Tracks

Hot topics in areas key to leadership, career growth and entrepreneur business growth. Connect with the expert and peers within a community learning environment. Learn More

Get Connected

Professional Networking...

Network Circles at w2wlink.com, profile - group - connect

Private groups on shared career focus areas - Corporate Fast Track, Entrepreneur Journey, Career Transitions and more. Learn More

Watch a short video on the benefits of w2wlink.com Network CirclesWatch: The Benefits of Network Circles (2 min)

Also on w2wlink.com

w2wlink Presents the 4th Annual Ascendancy Awards

Submit your nomination or application form by January 31

Knowledge Bank

Knowledge Bank

What’s Age Got To Do With It?

How Age Affects a Workplace

Cashing Out! Preparing Your Business for Sale

Information for Women Entrepreneurs

Moving Forward After Losing a Job - Part I

Career Transition

Why Office Affairs Occur and What to Do About Them

Self Management for Professional Women

NEW Women 2020

Women 2020: A look into the work of Women in Consumer Goods

Video: Nina Atwood on Financial Advice for Couples

World's 100 Most Powerful Women

Diversity is showing up!

Blacktino

Personalize your Professional Wardrobe

How to be stylish in the office

How to Be Heard in Meetings

The Art of Interruption

Otara - A Story of Passion, Power, and Entrepreneurship

A Woman's Journey to Realize her Dreams

Returning Mothers – Sustaining Careers, Preserving Happiness

Advice for Women Re-Entering the Work Force

Negotiating Successfully with Children

Guidelines to negotiate successfully with your children

Style Tips to Project the Right Image at Work

Be Professional and Stylish