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How to Work the Room (gigaom.com)
62 points by Celcius on Apr 29, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 19 comments



Social strategy for being a host: Introduce EVERYONE to EVERYONE.

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.


I did improvisational theater for a few years, and it has helped me immensely over the years. It taught me four things:

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!


Stand-up comedy works well also. It helped me to get over my fear of speaking to large groups.


Do you have to be funny for this to work? ;)


It sure helps.

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.


Debate is another alternative. Besides speaking in front an audience it also teaches you how to articulate your thoughts and engage your listeners which is invaluable for presentations and the like.


Yes. You have to pay some attention to the rule set you use (if you are into formal debate). Some commonly used rules can have strange effects and encourage behaviour not useful in presentations.


This is a good article. It reminds me of a talk I saw at SHDH by a guy named Shannon Clark.

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...


Love the contents, hate the title.

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.


In all honesty, what's wrong with the phrase "work the room"? Is this a phrase that is misapplied to the subject matter? Does this phrase bring up bad connotations? Is this phrase not descriptive enough or too specific for what the person is talking about?

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?


For many native English speakers, the phrase "work the room" will have negative connotations. Often that phrase is associated with people who tend to use their relationships with others primarily as a way to benefit themselves alone. Any benefit to the others in the relationship is strictly secondary, often unnecessary, and sometimes even just a tool for the person to further exploit the relationship to their benefit.

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.


Analyzing, designing, cranking out 8,000 lines of code, testing, and deploying by Tuesday is work.

Spending good time with nice people at an event isn't.


To be fair to the author, he's writing about networking events, where the whole point of the event is to make connections, not just spend good time with people.


It is work if you're like me and instantly hate most of those people, have no interest in listening to their boring conversations, and would rather be doing anything else ;)

"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".


how sad


Are you saying that you like talking to people who you have nothing in common with?


It needs some effort to connect, but you can learn from a lot of people.

(And even if you just brush up your social skills, that can be helpful.)


It's called networking for a reason.


No, "How to Work the Room" is just very succinct.




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