How to Work the Room

by Joey deVilla on January 23, 2008

A gathering of several cats

Over at FoundRead, Larry Chiang has some advice that you might find useful if you’re following Scoble’s advice for people who’ve just been laid off (particularly the parts about networking and attending business events). His piece is titled How to Work the Room.

Here’s a condensed version:

  1. Be more of a host and less of a guest. Make introductions and make people more comfortable.
  2. Avoid permanently joining a “rock pile” (a pack of people in a tight circle). Huddling feels safe, but it’s also antisocial.
  3. Dress for the party. The basic rule: the more junior you are, the better you should dress.
  4. Don’t “hotbox” (square shoulders front and centre to one person). In a one-on-one conversation, it’s okay, but it excludes others from joining.
  5. Put your coat and bag down. It signals that you’re about to leave.
  6. Mentor someone about your (or your company’s) core competence. “It transitions nicely from the what-do-you-do-for-work question. It also adds some substance to party conversations and clearly brands you as a person.”
  7. Don’t forget to get mentored as well. The author suggests this trick: try to learn three new things at each event.
  8. Be a good host while you’re someone else’s guest. Say “Hi” to wallflowers.
  9. Manage the party host. “When you’re interacting with the host, ask simple questions requiring a ‘Yes/No’ response. I’ve heard disastrous questions in a vain attempt to out alpha-male the host. The best questions to ask of a host are upbeat, light and fluffy. If you want to be Mike Wallace/Chris Matthews with a hardball question, tread lightly. Also, help your host wiggle by wrangling them away from guests who are monopolizing or “hotboxing” them. They will thank you later.”
  10. Always, always, always: Thank the host before you leave. If you only do one thing on this list, let this be the one (and work on the others!)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brendan McKenna January 25, 2008 at 3:18 am

Thanks Joey,

I found this through Merlin Mann’s post and find this post super, lots of good tips and you’ve presented them so concisely!

2 Stig December 12, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Saved buying the book.

Best book would still seem to be ‘ How To Win Friends and Influence People.”

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