In an age of social media, text messaging and never getting to “inbox zero,” sometimes it seems impossible to get actual face time with people. Yes, I’m referring to actual face-to-face conversations, not FaceTime, ladies and gents. So when you find yourself in a situation where you do have to talk to other human beings, you want to be able to hold your own. You want to work the room and make yourself memorable (in a respectful way, of course). Whether it’s a business event, a friend’s birthday party or a cousin’s wedding, you must know how to schmooze.
1. Dress The Part
While I’m not a proponent of anyone being superficial or shallow, I know that when I feel that I look good on the outside, I feel better about myself and more confident. Make sure, for starters, you know the attire of the event or party you’re attending. If it’s a black tie affair, you don’t want to show up in jeans and a tee. Of course, it’s better to veer on the safe side and be a tad overdressed than under-dressed, but don’t pull out the ball gown for a casual lunch meetup. Dress in a way that makes you feel good. Pull out one of your go-to outfits that you KNOW you rock well and that will help you to exude the utmost confidence!
2. Smile, Smile And Smile More
Keep your RBF (Resting Bitch Face) at home; this is not the time for it. As soon as you arrive, and all throughout the event, don’t forget to smile. People will be more inclined to come up to you and want to talk to you if you’re putting off good energy, all of which starts with a smile.
3. Branch Out
If you know people at the event, don’t stay with them the entire time. While I know it can be comforting to be around those you already know, push yourself to branch out and network! When you go up to the bar to get a drink, strike up a conversation with whomever else is at the bar getting a drink. Don’t be shy; just use a little chutzpah and you’ll be good to go. Nine times out of ten, they will want to talk to you as well. And if they don’t, so what? Move on.
4. Find Common Ground
You’re at the same event, so you already have a bit of common ground. Expand on that. If you’re at a birthday party for a friend, ask the person you’re talking to how they know them, which should lead to a possible story of when they met, which will then continue from there. If you’re at a business event, ask how they’re connected to the company hosting it. You don’t have to solely talk about the weather!
5. Keep Conversations Neutral
Even if you’re dying to talk about politics or religion or another subject that may be touchy, please refrain. Do not bring up topics that can become controversial. You can totally talk about the latest “Designated Survivor” episode, but avoid topics that might make someone uncomfortable. Keep it light.
6. Be Positive And Upbeat
People love to be around those who are positive and upbeat. Even if the event utterly sucks, the drinks are watered down and the food is stale, don’t turn into a “Negative Nancy.” Yes, you can maybe laugh over the utter chaos going on around you, but do not turn negative. Nobody wants to be around that. Stay positive, upbeat and lighthearted, and do your best to have a good time.
7. Ask Questions
Don’t only talk about yourself. Be inquisitive and ask questions. You are not in a therapy session where it’s all about you; you’re at an event where you need to schmooze it up. Inquire about the other person’s job and life. And act interested – even if you’re not! Focus on the person in front of you rather than looking around for someone better to talk to. Of course, you should answer their questions as well, but don’t get too long-winded about your story. You don’t want the other person to start yawning and looking for an escape route.
8. Follow Up
It’s important to get people’s business cards or information, but don’t just get the information; actually follow up the next day. Shoot them a quick email saying how it was great to meet them, how you enjoyed talking to them and that you hope to see them again soon. Or, if you spoke to them about getting together, throw out some date options. Following through is of utmost importance.
And there you have it! You should now be able to schmooze your way around the room easily. Yes, it takes practice, but at the end of the day, it comes down to smiling, being confident, being positive and being present. Be the type of person you’d want to be talking to. You’ll do great. Good luck!
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