Social Situations: How To Work It

by sbh on Thursday - 24 January 2008

in Uncategorized

Venetian Mask

I am no Martha Stewart. When it comes to throwing parties, I can often be a nervous wreck. I rack my brain with unanswerable questions:

* Will they like the food?
* Will they approve of the conversation?
* Will they notice the (lack of) care that was put into the decor?

Really, all of these questions boil down into one extremely annoying query:

* *Will they like me?*

Because of this whole line of thinking, you might think: “Well, that’s fine, Steve, just don’t throw parties. You can still go to them, can’t you?”

Unfortunately, my party-going skills are no better. In an uncomfortable situation, I tend to do one of three things:

1. Transform into a full-blown wallflower.
2. Cling to the one or two people I already know.
3. Not show up in the first place.

For the most part, I just feel very uncomfortable at social events. I hate the feeling that I’m putting on some sort of mask and hoping that everyone will like me. On a day-to-day basis, I’m not really worried about how much people like me. Why is it that in these social settings this suddenly becomes a central concern? Meh…

There is, however, an underlying reality that must be faced: Networking is positively crucial if you expect to be a “white collar” type, climbing the social ladder of success. Sure, if I was working one of my old gigs (e.g., pizza delivery several years ago) the ability to schmooze is negligible. Now, however, being able to “work the room” is a much needed skill. So, I clench my fists, grit my teeth, march in and get ‘er done.

Earlier today, I stumbled across a post from 2007 by Larry Chiang called “How To Work the Room”:http://foundread.com/2007/06/24/how-to-work-the-room/ (courtesy of “Merlin Mann”:http://www.43folders.com/people/merlin-mann who “added his own thoughts”:http://www.43folders.com/2008/01/24/entertaining-guest). Here is the quick list of pointers:

1. Be more of a host and less of a guest.
2. Avoid permanently joining a “rock pile.”
3. Dress for the party.
4. Don’t “hotbox.”
5. Put your coat and bag down.
6. Mentor someone about your–or your company’s–core competence.
7. Don’t forget to get mentored as well.
8. Be a good host while you’re someone else’s guest.
9. Manage the party host.
10. Always, always, always: Thank the host before you leave.

If you are unfamiliar with some of this lingo (and you bet I was!), jump over to “Larry Chiang’s post”:http://foundread.com/2007/06/24/how-to-work-the-room/ and check it out. He elaborates on each of these pointers. You may not be a total hit at parties, but you can definitely become more than just dead weight. Plus, avoiding the terrible feeling that comes with being an intolerable party dud is well worth the few minutes it takes to read this post and take it to heart.

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