How To Work a Room Like a Pro

Tips for how to walk into a room of strangers, carry yourself with composure and walk out with contacts.

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Networking in person is different than it is online, and is a skill that takes practice.

Image courtesy of Flickr user lumaxart.

“Today’s social media options make it easy to avoid getting out there and interacting with others in face-to-face situations,” notes the story “How To Work a Room and Make Lasting Connections,” in The Boston Globe.

Maybe make that too easy. Many people feel like their social skills are better online – where they’re protected by a screen, and where they can wait a few moments to come up with a good quip in the course of a conversation.

But being able to walk into a room of strangers, carry yourself with composure, have conversations that are meaningful and walk out with contacts is a skill that takes practice.

Here are some tips offered by Ellen Keiley, a member of the international law firm K&L Gates, and Richard J. DeAgazio, the former president of Boston Capital Securities, Inc., in their Globe story:

  • Review the guest list in advance, if you can. The event coordinator is the person to ask.
  • Decide on a networking goal, such as a particular person to meet.
  • Prepare a brief description of yourself to use when introducing yourself.
  • Put your name tag on your upper right lapel, which is where people lean into when they shake your hand.
  • Ask open-ended questions, even the basic “how did you learn about this event?” Be a good listener.
  • Put your business cards in one pocket and the ones you receive in another.
  • Approach guest speakers before their talks, when they’re less likely to be surrounded.

Networking is “all about relationship building,” write Keiley and DeAgazio, who also is founder of a networking and relationship development consultancy.


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Comments (2)
Dear Ms. Keiley and MIT SMR - with all due respect, there is a reason many attorneys, investment bankers, and sales people have the repute they have!  "Working a Room," "Schmoozing Skills," and "networking" - one letter away from nOt working - are all short-sighted, transactional, and detrimental to one's ability to build, nurture, and capitalize on their portfolio of relationships.  Networking is NOT "all about relationship building;" in the last decade I've become a student of business relationships and networking is often "you getting what you want!"  Real relationships are based on mutual respect, trust, and value-exchange at every interaction, particularly the very first.  Particularly in our current low trust environment, I'm coaching more individuals and corporate clients to invest in fewer but more impactful relationships.  It's the fundamental difference between vibration and forward motion!

David Nour, author
Relationship Economics, ConnectAbility, Return on Impact
Clever Choice » Screen Time Killed Your Schmoozing Skills?
[...] there are other options. MIT Sloan’s Improvisations blog, for example, recently offered 10 tips to work a room like a pro from Ellen Keiley, a member of the law firm K&L Gates, and Richard J. DeAgazio, the former [...]