The Art of Schmoozing II

How to Work a Room, Revised Edition_ Your Essential Guide to Savvy Socializing_ Books_ Susan RoAne.jpg

Susan RoAne wrote the book on schmoozing. Literally:
How to Work a Room: Your Essential Guide to Savvy Socializing. The recently updated and revised book is a classic because we will all have to walk into “rooms” that contain meetings, conferences, trade shows, business mixers, fundraisers, and parties and be able to schmooze, make connections, and walk out with our heads held up high.

Because you may be using PR firms less, you really need to hone your schmoozing skills. Therefore, I asked Susan to provide her top ten tips of schmoozing.

  1. Think analog, not digital. We still have to interact with people although the digital world has afforded us many ways to stay in touch using technology. We must know how to meet, mingle, make small talk and connect with others in the analog world both in our professional and personal lives. You can IM, text, ping, or Twitter and yet, you will still get invited to an office party or a cousin’s wedding and have to do the face-to-face.

  2. Prepare for every event. We now have many search engines to use to find out about the event, association, company or
    organization. Take note of the news on the site, the people highlighted and the news that is noted. Find out who you need to
    meet and who you want to meet. Ask your network or the event host to make the introduction.

  3. Determine what you have in common with the other people at that event. When you find that common point, you both will be more comfortable. If you alter your focus and think about making others comfortable with you, they will be.

  4. Prepare a self-introduction. Be ready so that you can introduce yourself if there is no greeting committee. It’s a seven to nine second pleasantry, not a thirty second elevator speech, and key it to the event so others know why you are attending. That will help them figure out what to say to you.

  5. Read voraciously. This means blogs, online newspapers, and even the good old analog print newspaper. Every page of the paper provides news, information, scores, reviews, and even gossip (the newsy kind of schmooze) that is fodder for conversation. Jot down three to five items in case there is a lull and you have something else to add. Don’t forget to read industry journals and national magazines. Other people may have read that interesting article in FastCompany, Forbes or O Magazine! If they haven’t, you can highlight and get the conversation rolling. It’s ok to watch TV, and I often quote Jon Stewart of The Daily Show!

    Also, read Truemors everyday. This will make you a better schmoozer because you’ll be on top of the latest news in a broad selection of areas. This will make you the king or queen of small talk (see below).

  6. Approach the person standing alone. He or she will welcome your company. No one, even CEO’s, want to stand in a room by themselves. It just feels dorky.

  7. Just smile and say Hi or Hello. According to research, those are the best opening lines. While we wait for the utterly
    brilliant icebreaker to pop into our brains and then to come out of our mouths, the person we may want to meet has already
    moved to the opposite side of the room. Depending on your age or crowd, the word “hey” may be the greeting du jour.

  8. Make small talk. Too many of us think that we must be talking the important, deep stuff and consider small talk to be
    trivial. Wrong. Author Michael Korda’s Uncle, movie producer Sir Alexander Korda, said, “A bore is someone who
    has no small talk.” Small talk is how we learn about our common interests, experiences and connections.

    Once you find the
    guy who also wears Jerry Garcia ties or kindred deep dish pizza aficionado or the person who also has teenagers, or the
    quilter or The Daily Show/Jon Stewart fan or the local senior league hockey player, conversation flows. Remember the last time
    you met a person who decided to get right into the “big” talk about famine, disease, war, poverty while you had a beverage in
    one hand and a mini taco in the other? Now that’s a bore.

  9. Listen, listen, listen. People tell us about their interests. If we listen and stop planning what to say next, drafting our grocery lists or personals ad, we’d all be better conversationalists. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we are not paying attention if our iPods are in our ears, our Blackberrys or Treos are in our hands or we are waiting for our BlueTooth enabled calls. In fact, doing any of the aforementioned behaviors does send a message to others and it might not serve you in the long run.

  10. Go everywhere with the intention of having fun. People want to be around the upbeat, fun, interesting, and interested person.

Bonus Tip: If you want to make a positive memorable impression, treat people like people not like prospects!

By |2016-10-24T14:20:31+00:00June 1st, 2007|Categories: Events, Marketing and Sales|Tags: |45 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Singapore Entrepreneurs ~ Venture Capital Funding in Singapore June 1, 2007 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Entrepreneur Reads for the Day: 2 June 2007

    Here are some recommended entrepreneur reads for the day:
    STEALTH STARTUPS: Secrets you should know about by John Nesheim offers a counter-intuitive advice about keeping mum about what you are doing. To add also another, is the word of the day from …

  2. Marc Duchesne June 1, 2007 at 9:42 am - Reply

    ” read Truemors everyday ” : very smart move, indeed. That’s called reciprocation 😉
    Seriously speaking, I’ll attend two people-gathering (read : cocktails) events within the next two weeks. I’m going to apply Susan’s tips & tricks per the book at the first one, and will report the outcomes to her. Then, I still have the second one to behave as usual.
    Reciprocation is a key aspect of good schmoozing. This is one of the most important things I learned from Robert Cialdini.

  3. Maria Helm June 1, 2007 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Great tips. One to add:
    Wear something personal or interesting, such as a tie printed with your hobby, or a pin made by your daughter. (Something small and tasteful, unless you just like being tacky.) This gives others a conversation starter.
    Oh, what a lovely pin! – Thank you. My daughter made it, and I promised I’d wear it. – How sweet. How old is…
    Nice tie! You must be a golfer. – Yes. Do you golf, too? …

  4. Stephanie West Allen June 1, 2007 at 11:03 am - Reply

    I wanted to make sure that you know about Bob Burg’s ENDLESS REFERRALS. To me that’s the Bible on networking. High introverts and people who hate networking have come to enjoy it after Bob’s book.

  5. mike June 1, 2007 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Very good tips. I think the bonus tip covers it all: treat people like people. If you do that, even if you don’t get it “right” you will make the good impression and people will know they are more than just $$$ to you.

  6. John Koetsier June 1, 2007 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Holy mother #5 (Truemors) takes schmoozing to the whole new brown-nosing level.

  7. Roger Anderson June 1, 2007 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    5 minutes – if you have not figured out why you need to be talking to this person, or why they need to talk to you, say “Excuse me” and move on. You are either wasting their time or yours. In either case you are being impolite.
    I’m not sure I believe that there is such a thing as “Small Talk” isn’t that like small pictures?
    Good stuff – networking can be fun if you treat people like you want to be treated and don’t take it personally if everyone does not want to talk to you. It happens.
    I’ll bet there are even people who would not talk to Guy. Like Microsofties for example….

  8. Paula Neal Mooney June 1, 2007 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    This is so good I came off the email feed to leave you a comment.
    Just excellent advice; I’m going to approach the loner at the next party I attend.
    Really, really good.
    Okay, I’m headed over to Truemors now…

  9. Gubatron June 1, 2007 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    The Art of Schmoozing II

    Hi Guy Kawaasaki!!!,Trackback from on The Art of Schmoozing II at

  10. Anonymous June 1, 2007 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    How to Work aRoom

    Food Fete is fundamentally a networking event.   We create an enviroment for food companies and the food press to meet and get to know each other. It sounds simple enough, but what if youre not a good Schmooozer? Lets face…

  11. Sherry Stern June 1, 2007 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    At conference parties where people are milling around, I walk up and say, “Hi. My goal is to meet five people I don’t know. I’m Sherry, I own a bird and wildlife ringtone and cell phone game company. What do you do?” As I progress through meeting five people, I’m able to hook people up with others who would be a good fit. It works out well. I may start out as the person standing alone, but I sure don’t end up that way!

  12. sammy June 1, 2007 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Come on Guy – how self important can you get? No one reads Truemors because it isn’t interesting. To suggest
    someone should read it because “it will make them a better schmoozer” is just total B.S. You seem to think you are waaaaaaay more important to the world than you really are.
    Where should I send the refund for what you pay to read my blog?

  13. eventounico June 2, 2007 at 3:31 am - Reply

    Just be yourself. If you aren’t a great reader or an elegant person you can’t change in a moment. Emprove yourself just for yourself. It will be clear to everybody in a party or in common life.

  14. Dave June 2, 2007 at 3:42 am - Reply

    “Working a room” is a special skill that one has embedded in one’s personality. Trying this hard according to these silly suggestions is likely going against the grain of your own personality and will likely come off as rehearsed as all of this sounds. I fantasize about being so adept as to work a room, but I can’t. It’s just not who I am, I kind of have to accept it. This book will not make a schmoozer out of someone who’s not.
    Politicians are born not made.

  15. Carmel Lisciotto June 2, 2007 at 4:13 am - Reply

    It’s a fine balancing act.
    Sometimes over personalizing has a detrimental effect.
    Carmelo Lisciotto

  16. Jobson Lemos June 2, 2007 at 6:53 am - Reply

    Hi, I would like introduce you the sec.un.dum ( It looks like a Brazilian Technorati which pays for post’s bloggers. In the last month, sec.un.dum paied 2.4 dollars for each post in the 100 more visited list. This month it will pay 5 dollars. The site is a blog community for portuguese content.

  17. Daniel B. Honigman June 2, 2007 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Guy –
    It may help your readers if you link information on men’s style and etiquette. I find that Esquire Magazine usually has well-written, well-organized tips.

  18. Brad Hutchings June 2, 2007 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    I agree about the Bluetooth headset thing… If you’re not security, you should not have [email protected] sticking out your ears. And guys over 35, that also means ear hair. Your Norelco and some tweezers every few days (and especially before a big social networking event) can fix that.

  19. Prairie Bluestem June 2, 2007 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Meeting People and Making Small Talk

    Guy Kawasaki has posted an interesting article: “The Art of Schmoozing II.” He has ten tips from Susan Roane for walking into a room and meeting people. Roane is the author of How to Work a Room: Your Essential Guide to Savvy Socializing.

  20. SureToMeet June 2, 2007 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    More Top Networking Tips

    Sue Pelletier, Face2Face Meetingsnet, linked to a great “top 10” list of networking tips by Susan RoAne on Guy Kawasaki’s blog. All of these are networking tips that I didn’t include in my Top 10 Networking Tips series. The first…

  21. Pablo Portugal June 3, 2007 at 7:09 am - Reply

    I like the last suggestion “Go everywhere with the intention of having fun. People want to be around the upbeat, fun, interesting, and interested person.”
    Good tips!

  22. eric June 3, 2007 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Standard and great information. I’m still learning to network and shmooze better constantly. It has a lot to do with confidence and asking the right questions that bring up interesting topics. You can ask how what they are doing makes money. This is a good question sometimes because it can get the other person thinking about their business or the companies business model. And even if it isn’t in your industry, you can learn something.

  23. Jon June 3, 2007 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    I would add one thing to this list, I attended a networking event a few years back with what I didn’t know was an alcoholic sales rep working for me at the time. At the end of the night, he had passed out (fell flat on the floor) and I had to drag him out. So if wine is available, be sure NOT to bring an alcoholic with you to the event!
    ps: Guy, you got nothing to apologize for evangelizing your own products in your posts!

  24. iPlot June 3, 2007 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    The Power Rules of Schmoozing

    Guy Kawasaki provides a helpful guide for all of us who want to hone our schmoozing skills (and schmoozing is like many other important activities in life – it’s a mix of natural talent and practice, practice, practice!). His list

  25. Tim June 3, 2007 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Great list! I’m always amazed about how easy it is to engage people in conversations. Timing is crucial though. If the room’s already working without you, it’s harder to work the room even with a simple “Hey.” I therefore always try to be early and warm up with the other early birds. There’s nothing more socially appealing than being with a group of people.
    One aspect is missing from Guy’s list: how to effectively and politely end a conversation and move on to the next target. This is a high art and usually distinguishes the experienced schmoozer. The best tactic for me is still to pull other people into the conversation and then discreetly disappear. If no one is near, then I try the old “Let’s get a drink…” and wander off into the sunset. 😉

  26. the evangelical outpost June 3, 2007 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    Thirty Three Things (v. 14)

    1. JP Morgan’s Guaranteed Formula for Success (HT: 2. Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer, evangelicalism’s leading theologian of cultural hermeneutics, on the growing marginalization between Christians and our “cultural…

  27. TBD June 3, 2007 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    Is networking really that difficult? As long as you make sure you are treating the other person with utmost etiquette, then you should be fine. And as the list points, treat them like people and they will respect you back.
    What I have found out is that it’s difficult to work the room in the beginning for me, but after I’ve talked to someone and warmed up, then I’m on fire. Since I happen to talk relatively loudly (I’m that way ever since I was born, I don’t do it purposely), it usually attracts other people to the group. And make sure you are saying something worthwhile that the other person would like to listen to.
    Also, to the person who said don’t talk to other if you can’t figure out why you are talking to them is utter nonsense. I don’t talk to other people because I need to immediately get something out of them. I’m looking for potential friendships, potential team members for my company etc. I’m working to make these long-term relationships. Therefore, it may not be evident that I should be talking to them in the first meeting, but who knows, maybe in the next few years, it may turn out to be a great partnership.
    Exiting the conversation is difficult if everyone else is talking and you can’t subtly spot a lonely wolf among the pack. If I’m talking to a group, then it’s great to discreetly shy away. That can only happen if you have talked to these people before and already have their contact information. Otherwise, you will interrupt the conversation if you need to get their contact info and exit. Usually, I just tell them that I need to get a drink or take a call. That works well.

  28. Accountants Round Up June 4, 2007 at 7:24 am - Reply

    “The Art of Schmoozing II”

    By Guy Kawasaki: Susan RoAne wrote the book on schmoozing. Literally: How to Work a Room: Your Essential Guide to Savvy Socializing. The recently updated and revised book is a classic because we will all have to walk into “rooms”

  29. Business Development June 4, 2007 at 10:08 am - Reply

    How to Work A Room in The Matrix

    A long, long time ago, I wanted to be in publishing. So as part of a summer program, I got professional training in how to attend a cocktail party. I’m not making this up. At the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures courts,

  30. Steve Holden June 4, 2007 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Guy — Good list to start one’s prep on.
    For those not so sure how to approach a group that is already formed, you might want to check out this podcast from “How to Politely Become Part of a Group” (
    It works. I’ve used it several times.

  31. Career Goddess June 4, 2007 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Schmoozing Personal Branding = Networking Success

    Schmoozing comes naturally to me, I’ll be the first to admit. Hey, I’m an extreme extrovert AND I love to listen! If you are a schmoozing-challenged person who could use some tips to really rev up your networking and career-advancement

  32. Career Hub June 4, 2007 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Schmoozing Personal Branding = Networking Success

    Schmoozing comes naturally to me, I’ll be the first to admit. Hey, I’m an extreme extrovert AND I love to listen! If you are a schmoozing-challenged person who could use some tips to really rev up your networking and career-advancement

  33. b - s i d e June 4, 2007 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    Guy Kawasaki: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12K

    (* Source: Guy Kawasaki *)Web2.0 told like it is lived. Guy showing the state of the web2.0 startup nation and how cheap it is to start your own… agencies beware! Guy says… Because o…

  34. Marketing & Strategy Innovation Blog June 4, 2007 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09

    by: Guy KawasakiBecause of Truemors, Ive learned a lot about launching a company in these Web 2.0 times. Heres quick overview by the numbers….

  35. Kelly King Anderson June 5, 2007 at 7:07 am - Reply

    I appreciate this post! I wanted to mention that I’m a firm believer in #6 Approach the Person Standing Alone. I learned that trick in Jr. High when I was a loner myself…I decided that I needed to make an effort to befriend anyone else who was alone so then there would be 2 of us. It works every single time. Also, before attending an event where you know there will be bloggers, its always good to be up on the latest posts because at least in our SLC geek community event conversation ends up discussing YOURs, Seth’s, and others…including each others. And lastly, it seems obvious, but so many people don’t have a business card…its an essential piece that demonstrates you are serious about what you do and want people to remember you.
    Make a Wish, Make it Happen,

  36. Steve Holden's Weblog June 5, 2007 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Suggestions On Having A Better Event Experience

    Guy Kawasaki has a good list of items to consider before you go out to a ‘smoozing event’. I like his item ‘#2 Prepare For The Event’ a lot. I’ve had a very good recent experience doing something similar a

  37. Tudor June 6, 2007 at 5:24 am - Reply

    Plenty of evidence of the obvious benefits your post brought for a host of folk. I’ll add my thanks also.
    In dark premordial days when we didn’t have mentors, Schmooze gurus, mobiles, and only a few high-minded tomes on ‘how to win friends and influence people’ in libraries and dusty bookshops …
    Meetings were full of people behaving in weird, cool, obnoxious, drugged, aggressive, not-like-me ways. And that was just business meetings. Buyers looking for sellers and vice-versa. And that was just social meetings.
    Happen we didn’t learn much, pass much on…
    If I’d time again: People think you are interesting if you think they are interesting. Like almost everyone else I was far too busy trying to make myself the most interesting pony in the ring …with the best tricks.

  38. Frieda June 6, 2007 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    I loved the bonus tip and it’s the best one out of the list:
    Bonus Tip: If you want to make a positive memorable impression, treat people like people not like prospects
    Gloden rule!

  39. Steve Holden's Weblog June 7, 2007 at 7:26 am - Reply

    Suggestions On Having A Better Social Event Experience

    Guy Kawasaki has a good list of items from Susan RoAnne to consider before you go out to a ‘smoozing event’. I like the item ‘#2 Prepare For The Event’ a lot. I’ve had a very good recent experience doing

  40. JMG3Y June 9, 2007 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    If you have trouble schmoozing a room, join a Toastmasters Club for awhile. Schmoozing is public speaking, just one-on-one or small group. Toastmasters clubs provide a wonderful environment to practice the skills for you elevator speech and otherwise obtaining your communication goals. Googling “Toastmasters” hits the organization’s main website, which contains a directory of all the clubs worldwide and their meeting particulars (locations, times, contact person).

  41. Eric Nelson - Development for .NET Framework 3.0 for ISVs June 11, 2007 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    UK ISV Attending Software Architect 2007 June 12th to 14th?

    Apologies for the late notice – but if you are a developer or architect working for an ISV in the UK

  42. The Agitator June 17, 2007 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    First Aid For Introverts

    Acolytes of the Myers-Briggs personality profile project that 51% of Americans are introverts.And even introverts in the nonprofit marketing biz face days when they must undertake that most dreaded chore … sell themselves!Many would say that the messe

  43. joefusco July 20, 2007 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    Mad Party Skillz…

    My wife, among her many virtues, hates talking about herself, and will go to great lengths, particularly in social settings, to avoid it. She is also really, really good at asking questions and, co…

  44. Rob Cottingham August 8, 2007 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Susan RoAne doesn’t know it, but she’s saved my (emotional) life countless times. I read that book after leaving yet another disastrous party hours early, and it completely changed the way I look at these things.
    One piece of advice I loved: play host – not in a presumptuous way, but making the little gestures that ease others’ discomfort. Offer to freshen someone’s drink; make an introduction; make sure someone got their name tag or convention kit. It’s amazing how quickly you can start to feel confident in that role.

  45. RebRachmany August 25, 2007 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Great advice, but don’t bother to buy the book. It doesn’t say anything beyond what you can read in the blog and comments. After reading this blog, I went out and bought the book and was disappointed; there just isn’t enough to “working a room” to fill a book.
    I learned to work a room after talking to a sales guy who was terrific at it and saying “Wow, that comes so easy to you.” He said “What, are you kidding? It’s hard every single time, but I make myself do it because it’s my job.” Once I knew it was hard for even the best, I realized it wasn’t some natural talent, but something you learn.

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