How To Work a Room

  • Posted by: Chaloner

Here’s an idea inspired by a Kimberly Weisul post on One Thing New. Kim is the founder of One New Thing, was an editor at BusinessWeek and is now Editor-at-Large at Inc. Magazine.

Is this you? There’s a PRSA or IABC event coming up and you know you should go and network for a couple of hours but you find yourself cringing at the prospect. “I won’t know anyone and it will be obvious.” “I’ve never been good at networking where you’re supposed to go into a room full of strangers and come out with useful connections.”

Of course, it’s much easier to go to these kinds of events with a colleague or a friend. I’ve always found it true that two people manage to meet many more new people at events and conferences than attendees on their own. However, you can’t always have someone with you. One of Kim’s workmates told her of a trick he uses. He looks for pairs of people who are talking to each other, walks up to them and introduces himself to both of them. He figures that either they came together and should be mingling and you’ve just given them the opportunity, or they don’t know each other, have just met, and would welcome another participant in their conversation. Are you interrupting? No, and you’ve just doubled your odds of starting a useful conversation!

The old convention was to look for people standing by themselves because they’d be more likely to welcome someone to talk to.  Well, I’m open to new ideas and I like this one. I’m going to try it at the next event I attend. I’ll let you know how it goes.

And, I’ll remember:
1. to bring business cards which I will distribute liberally.
2. to charge up and bring my phone in case I need to scan something, send an email right there or add a contact.
3. to look for an attendee or RSVP list to check on useful connections I should find.