Our second step is to prepare. While the details will be different from event to event, the basics of what we need to prepare are the same.
First, think about what you have in common with the others who will be there.
Knowing the common ground will provide the topic for you to start a conversation. Commonality builds rapport. It is the foundation to relationships.
Second, plan and practice a self-introduction.
You want to state your name, possibly what you have in common with others there and something interesting that might spark conversation. Or consider a tag line to tell who you are and a way to remember you. Your self-intros will vary from event to event.
Third, be prepared for small talk.
The experts suggest having at least 3 topics of conversation ready at all times that you can have with anyone. If you don’t read a daily newspaper, make a commitment today to do so. It’s a great resource for small talk. You don’t have to read it cover to cover. Just the headlines and one article per section would be a great start. If really pressed for time, the first couple of paragraphs in an article will give you the who and what.
Now you are ready to head to the event.
When you arrive and enter the room, do just that, enter. Don’t hover at the door. If there are name tags, always put the tag on your right side. This puts your name directly in the line of sight when you shake someone’s hand. They don’t have to try and sneak a glance to the left side.
Scope the room and decide where to start.
Perhaps you decide to approach a single person. Casually walk up, make eye contact, and introduce yourself. Or perhaps you see a group that appears to be enjoying themselves. Position yourself at the perimeter and give non-verbal feedback to the conversation such as a smile or a nod of the head. Wait for a verbal cue or eye contact before joining in.
With this knowledge, your skill in working a room will be a matter of practice, practice, practice. Opportunities to practice abound for most of us. When you go to your dentist appointment and find yourself with others in the waiting room, when you take your dog to play at the pet park, when you go to any weekly meetings you have. Just remember to shake off those obstacles, prepare by thinking of the common ground, have your self-intro ready, and a few pieces of small talk in mind. Then take a deep breath and go for it!
Enrich your life by learning and enjoying the art of working a room. I certainly plan to continue to!