If you met someone five minutes ago, introduce them to the person you met three minutes ago. If someone ask: "How do you know Bob?" you answer "I just met him."
You're not lying. You're not pumping anyone's ego. You are merely exchanging people's names and, if you know them quite well, a sentence or two about why they're awesome.
Everyone likes an introduction.
It's a very simple way to come across as a good host.
1) coming up with funny/interesting/smart things to converse about with just about anyone
2) Learning about posture, bodylanguage, eyemovement, etc. 90% of a conversation is nonverbal.
3) Loosen up
4) Being secure in front of people.
I would recommend it to anyone. It's a great learning experience, and hey it's fun!
EDIT: Do you know what secondhand embarrassment is? Go to an open mic and you are sure to experience it. I've seen some people who thought they were hilarious and were actually a train wreck.
My main take-away from his talk was that "networking is about giving", meaning that when you are networking you shouldn't be thinking "how can this person help me?" but "how can I help this person?" - this advice is simple but has had a profound impact on how I approach networking.
I think that this blog post covers a large subset of what I remember of Shannon's talk: http://shannonclark.wordpress.com/2007/10/08/networking-advi...
Better would have been, "How to Behave Like a Normal Human Being Who Cares About Others, Likes to Have Fun, and Wants to Remain Receptive to Any Benefits That May Come His Way."
But I guess, "How to Work the Room" is sexier.
As a non-native speaker, "Working the room" seems like a good abbreviation of "how to behave...". Is there another, shorter, more descriptive phrase you were thinking of?
I don't think it is a coincidence that the phrase is very often applied to politicians. In fact, I would venture to guess that politicians are the group this phrase is applied to the most often.
I'm not saying that everyone who "works the room" is a politician, and I'm not saying that all politicians are strictly self-serving individuals (yes, there are some good ones out there). However, there are enough examples of politicians to whom the phrase is applied, that it is often associated with them. There are also enough self-serving individuals to whom the phrase is applied that it helps to give the phrase a negative connotation.
And, obviously, there are quite a lot of individuals who have both the "self-serving" and "politician" categories covered.
Spending good time with nice people at an event isn't.
"good time" and "nice people" are not phrases I'd use to describe networking events. More important phrases to me are, "free food" and "open bar".
(And even if you just brush up your social skills, that can be helpful.)