How to Work the Room

52 thoughts on “How to Work the Room”

  1. These are *great* tips. I realized a couple of years ago that I am always more comfortable when I’m able to convince myself I am a host rather than a guest.

    Another tip I’d add is to look for people who seem more uncomfortable than you, then go talk to them.}

  2. This is great, but how to I find out about/get in invited to networking events? Do I have to network on my own in order to get invited to networking events? I am new to the value and am still used to unfriendly Los Angeles.}

  3. Great Tips. I often go to a parties where 90% of the people are twice my age – very accomplished. Somehow i always look for people of my age to hang around with and so true, it does make me comfortable. I would always think how to make best of these parties and now i have some direction – try (aim) to learn something new and be a shih tzu.}

  4. Be a Dave Packard rather than a Bill Gates – show an interest in the person, not just what that individual can do for you. You know the usual – family, kids, hobbies (you do have a hobby other than work, don’t you?), vacations, politics…}

  5. That’s where most of the Old Schools _Geek_ entrepreneurs fails. Today it isnt enough to have a good product (or good developers’ founders), you need to be able to market the product and market your team by successfully networking with other entrepreneurs and potential investors. Networking can also bring you potential cooperations.}

  6. Great tips. Could have used them in my shy geek career.

    Here are a few of my favorites for happy, stress-free socializing:

    o Never arrive empty-handed. Even a small gift helps the host feel appreciated, and gives you something to do when arriving, rather than standing with finger in nose. Plus, if you bring something you like, you might get some later! My favorite: European-style drinking chocolate!

    o Strive to be interestED, no interestING. It’s harder to do the former (read: “turn off ego and agendas”) but it gets you to the right attitude, which is:

    o Always come curious! Genuine curiosity is extremely empowering, and is the best thing to help someone open up (esp. us geeks). This means you have to:

    o Be a passion detective: Everyone has something they’re excited about – gaming, chocolate, movies, or the latest innovations in wound care (hey – my wife’s a nurse). Your job, Mr. Phelps, is to find that out. It may take work, and liberal application of great questions (plus maybe alcohol) but it’s *very* satisfying to see someone light up. Bonuses: They WILL remember you, and you’ll now have a terrific sense of what her interests, which means you can keep an eye out down the road for ways to help her [1] – essential to forming relationships, which is essential to getting *your* work spread in the world.

    o Finally, have a stock set of interested questions that work with anyone, something like “What do you do?”, “What do you like about your work?”, and “What are you reading?” And make sure you THINK ABOUT THE ANSWER. *Every* job has interesting aspects.

    [1] See “How to help people” (http://ideamatt.blogspot.com/2008/01/how-to-help-people.html) for the basic cycle:

    1. When meeting someone, come with an attitude of genuine curiosity.
    2. Maintain a steady, reliable, and valuable atom/bitstream
    3. When you come across something of potential value, share it

  7. Thank you for quoting my book, How To Work a Room®, and me. You hit some of the salient points that will be helpful to those who find a room full of people to be daunting. We must also remember to be ourselves and think about other people’s comfort and that helps us refocus and be in the moment.

    Susan RoAne

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