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How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Savvy Socializing in Person and Online

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Have you ever walked into a room full of strangers — be it a business function, a meeting, or a cocktail party — and felt uncomfortable?  In the NEW How to Work a Room, " The Mingling Maven" Susan RoAne provides the tools and techniques for savy socializing in all situations so that you are comfortable in any room.  She identifies the roadblocks that prevent us from meeting new people, developing new contacts, and establishing connections that build personal and professional relationships. Susan offers ...

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Overview

Have you ever walked into a room full of strangers — be it a business function, a meeting, or a cocktail party — and felt uncomfortable?  In the NEW How to Work a Room, " The Mingling Maven" Susan RoAne provides the tools and techniques for savy socializing in all situations so that you are comfortable in any room.  She identifies the roadblocks that prevent us from meeting new people, developing new contacts, and establishing connections that build personal and professional relationships. Susan offers a practical remedy to overcome each roadblock. You will learn how to mix chutzpah with charm to start and end conversations smoothly, know when and how to use humor , and follow the simple rules of etiquette in an emerging manner. Incorporating a decade of feedback from hundreds of presentations, as well as the new chapters " How to Work A Virtual Room" and "How to Work the Techno Toy Room," How to Work a Room is a book that will change your life.

In the NEW How to Work a Room, " The Mingling Maven" Susan RoAne provides the tools and techniques for savy socializing in all situations so that you are comfortable in any room. She identifies the roadblocks that prevent us from meeting new people, developing new contacts, and establishing connections that build personal and professional relationships.

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Editorial Reviews

Daniel H. Pink
“When it comes to connecting with others, some of us are naturals. But those who aren’t — thank heaven for Susan RoAne . . . If you want to learn how to enter a room and build a network of people you can help and who can help you, read this book.”
Larry Winget
“I read this book 25 years ago and it helped me tremendously. The updated version makes it more relevant and useful than ever . . . I can’t imagine trying to navigate successfully in the business world today without this amazing tool. ”
Dianna Booher
“Walking into a roomful of strangers? Pleasant? Productive? Profitable? Fun? From tradeshow suites to virtual ‘rooms,’ RoAne promises a lot—and delivers even more! There’s no more critical skill in today’s marketplace than becoming the connected communicator. Highly recommended.”
From the Publisher
"I cannot understand how anyone can network until they have [heard] this book. It is an essential career tool." —Glamour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060957858
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 8.06 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan RoAne is an in-demand professional speaker and the bestselling author of seven books. The self-described Mingling Maven®, RoAne has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Times, Cosmopolitan and the Financial Times and on CNN, CBSNews.com and businessweek.com. She lives in the San Francisco area.

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Read an Excerpt

If working a room is so much fun and so profitable, why do our hearts thump, our palms sweat and our eyes glaze over when we think about it? One reason is that 88 percent of us think of ourselves as shy. When we get invited to a meeting, conference or party, we shy away from the opportunity in order to avoid the discomfort.

Another reason is that many years ago we were taught not to talk to strangers. Mom gave us these dire warnings with the best of intentions, "for our own good," and everybody agreed that we should heed them. The trouble is, they worked a lot better when we were six years old than they do now that we are twenty-six, forty-six or sixty-six.

Now that we're no longer walking home alone from first grade, these dire warnings have changed from safety barriers into roadblocks that prevent us from mingling comfortably and effectively with other people. Mom isn't to blame. But we heard these warnings so often-and perhaps repeated them to our own kids so often-that they became a way of life.There are five major roadblocks to working a room successfully. Knowing where they come from is the first step to letting go of them.

ROADBLOCK #1"DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS"

This first roadblock is as American as apple pie. It is often accompanied by a shaking of the index finger. It made sense when our mothers did this to us, and it makes sense when we do it to our children. We still don't want our children to talk to strangers on the way home from school today-more than ever.

But it doesn't make sense when we're selling a product at a trade show, beginning our first day on a new job, attending a formal ball or mingling at a professional-association meeting orconvention where contacts and connections are standing six deep around the room. Yet we often find ourselves standing in the door, paralyzed, with that imaginary finger shaking in our faces and the message "Don't talk to strangers" flashing across our subconscious. So, we don't instead, we choose a nice, quiet spot at the hors d'oeuvres table and start nibbling, get very busy with a cup of coffee or a drink, smile nervously around the room at no one in particular-and have an awful time. Or we hang out on the periphery of the room ... against the walls. (Hence the term "wallflower.")

The problem is that we also miss tremendous business, career and social opportunities. Who knows what wonderful person or valuable contact was standing in that room feeling just as uncomfortable as we were

Life is too short, and time too precious, to spend an hour or two squandering opportunities and, in the process, having a bad time.

ROADBLOCK #2

"WAIT TO BE PROPERLY INTRODUCED" (THESCARLETT O'HARA SYNDROME)

imagine Scarlett, standing on the steps of Tara in all its antebellum glory, batting her eyelashes as she drawls, "My, but we haven't been. properly introduced." Her beauty and charm notwithstanding, Scarlett wouldn't havegotten very far at a professional association meeting. In Scarlett's day and social sphere, everyone was very much aware of proper introductions and there were people, usually older women, who did little else. They would make sure you met that gallant, dark-haired man or that stunning belle or the local banker who might be interested in your crop expansion.

But tomorrow did, indeed, become cc another day' and now you can't count on personal or professional 'matchmakers' to be sure you are introduced around at the political meeting or the reception after the lecture.

Yet many of us were taught that it "wasn't niceto talk to someone unless we had been introduced by a mutual acquaintance. It is certainly easier to begin a conversation when you've been formally introduced. At the very least, you have in common the person who introduced you. "How do you know Leslie?" elicits more information about the person you've just met, and can lead to other subjects of conversation.

But at most events we can't count on being introduced to anyone, let alone the people we most want to meet. We may be on our own when it comes to circulating, and we may have to walk up to people and introduce ourselves. If we don't want to be left standing in the middle of the room, staring at the ceiling or the floor, we have to realize that Scarlett had her world and we have ours ... and send her packing back to Tara.

ROADBLOCK #3"DON'T BE PUSHY GOOD THINGS COMETO THOSE WHO WAIT" (THE PROMKING/QUEEN COMPLEX)

Let's face it. The world may beat a path to the door of Prom Kings and Queens, but not everyone is royal. And once the Prom is over, even the ex-Kings and ex-Queens can't always afford to sit back and hope that people will seek them out.

As we watched the Kings and Queens being besieged with dates, Mom told us, "Good things come to those who wait." Au contraire... gray hair comes to those who wait, and sometimes even varicose veins if the waiting is done standing up!

Waiting for people to find you and introduce themselves is an exercise in futility. Chances are, they won't because it's just as difficult for them as it is for you. Because 88 percent of us are shy and won't initiate, the "waiting game" is a colossal waste of time, no fun at all and murder on your self-esteem.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Roadblocks: Mother's Dire Warnings            
Chapter 2: The Remedies: Removing the Roadblocks
Chapter 3: Benefits: The Bonuses of Being There
Chapter 4: The Dynamic Duo: Charm and Chutzpah
Chapter 5: Mr. (or Ms.) Sleaze Works a Room: How Not to Do  It
Chapter 6: Mr. (or Ms.) Sleaze Works a Room: or How Not to Do It
Chapter 7: Preparation: Planning Your Presence
Chapter 8: Seven Strategies: From Jump Start to Smooth Stop
Chapter 9: Working The Words: Seven Keys to Lively Conversation
Chapter 10: How to Work an Audience
Chapter 11: Working the Rules of Etiquette: Good Manners= Good Business
Chapter 12: Working the Cocktail Party with Pleasure, Purpose and Panache
Chapter 13: Working the Reunion: Reeling In Reality
Chapter 14: Working the Trade Show or Convention: The Tradeoffs
Chapter 15: How to Work the "Techno Toy" Room
Chapter 16: How to Work the Diverse Room
Chapter 17: Working the World: Trains & Boats & Planes, etc.
Chapter 18: The Gospel According to RoAne: The Ten Commandments of Connecting
Desperately Seeking Susan
Yiddish Glossary
Appendix: Frequently Asked Questions
References
Roane's Recommended Reading List
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First Chapter

CHAPTER 15

HOW TO WORK THE "TECHNO TOY" ROOM
This chapter is NOT about the latest gizmos nor gadgets in the Electronic world. It is about how, when and where to use...and NOT use them: the etiquette that speaks volumes about our behavior.

It saddens me that the subject has to be covered, but the gross errors in judgement for using the technology make the issue one that must be addressed. It is another facet of how to work and NOT work a room.

In 1991, I wrote about cell phone abuse. It's almost a decade later and the horror stories have increased exponentially with the speed of light/sound/modems. Pagers, cell phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), and laptops are now commonplace. Calendars are now kept on computers so one has to have RAM to make appointments which, of course, are easily cut, pasted or deleted. I tried to schedule an interview meeting with a client/friend for my last book, What Do I Say Next? "Sorry it's taking so long; my computer has a glitch," he apologized. "Get a datebook and pencil and you'll never have a glitch!"

We think that these electronic gadgets have made our lives easier and, in many ways, they have. But, they are also making our lives complicated because of the expectation we have of using these toys. Once we invest the money, we have to justify the cost. It reminds me of the $200 pair of shoes I bought in Las Vegas when I was there to be the keynote speaker for a convention. It was easy to rationalize because I don't gamble! It was a whim based on some information I had from a fashion maven* that "designer shoes were a must for my St. John knits." I was told people who counted would "know" my shoes were "quality." Oh, they are pretty. (Nobody ever noticed them!) But, to justify my purchase and guilt, I wear them...but only about four times a year, because the fit is not perfect!

And, that is a phrase to remember! Whether it's an expensive pair of shoes, the $3,000 speakers for surround sound in a two-bedroom condo or the pager that vibrates (or heaven forbid ... beeps) during a vital face-to-face meeting, we must ask ourselves: "Is the 'fit' perfect for the occasion?" Or will it cause perfect fits?

CALLS OF THE WILD
In The Secrets of Savvy Networking I wrote of a man's pager beeping during an intense scene of Cobb, a dramatic play. That was in 1991 and the "scene" has deteriorated. Too many people are ruining plays, meals, conversation, parties and meetings by being "on call" and disturbing the peace!

As bad as it is here, reports are that cell phone use and abuse is even more prevalent in other countries. Colleagues have told me of restaurants in Hong Kong and Australia where most diners ate and talked...on the phone.

ATTENTION-GETTING DEVICES
Living in Marin County (north of the Golden Gate Bridge) affords me the constant opportunity to laugh at the ironic and moronic situations of life. I constantly read and hear about the refreshing concepts, precepts and principles of the Eastern cultures, like being "in the moment" and "mindful." But, now I hear these phrases roll off the lips of the people who profess to be "in the moment" and are wearing a pager...to be in the next moment! Give me a break.

PAGING ... ALL (SELF-IMPORTANT) PEOPLE
Pagers have a purpose and are important for business, for emergency messages, if our spouses/bosses/parents/children need to find us. What irritates the rest of the people in the room in which we may be working, eating, exercising or enjoying a family celebration, is that it interrupts the moment. The implicit message is - we (and/or our project) is NOT important. So, how "mindful" of "being in the moment" is that?

It's not an age nor gender issue. This is one that crosses all lives. Call me old-fashioned. But, I would not insult people by being on call to others...when I am in a meeting, at a party or having dinner with someone.

My "baby" brother, Ira, is a very easy going guy with a wonderful sense of self and sense of humor. Even, down-to-earth, mild-mannered "baby" brother Ira got caught in the pager predicament. He had been in business with our father, who had been in the paper business over sixty years. So, when Ira went to the club to work out during the early morning or late afternoon, no gizmos were needed.

When the Nate the Great passed away, Ira, like millions of us, became a sole proprietor. So he started wearing a pager. When he was working out with his exercise partner one day, his pager went off. He looked at the number and saw it was from one of his waxpaper suppliers and determined that the return call could wait till the next morning. "Julie, my workout partner, went nuts. She told me I was so rude not returning the call immediately. Her point: why bother wearing a pager if you don't return the business call?"

"The way I see it is that I get to make the determination. If I had been in a meeting during work hours, I would not have stopped the meeting with other people to return the call.

"We created quite a community conversation in the health club by soliciting opinions of other exercisers. Come to think of it, we created quite a buzz and did get people talking with us and each other. That was a great by-product," Ira said. He laughed and continued, "Julie still won't admit I was right!"

"LOCK 'EM IN A CELL" PHONE!
While road rage is all the rage, cell phone outrage is hitting the national boiling point. It's even replaced call-waiting as a viable, visible and auditory violation! According to USA Today, cell phone users (as of June 1999) numbered 76.2 million people! That's a lot of battery life and potential abusers, and the abusers seem to outnumber the users. Everyone has a story of rude, inappropriate, thoughtless, cell phonies. And, yet, there are lifesaving stories as well.

Judge Philip Vick of Denton, Texas, appeared on the Today Show, because he hands out contempt of court fines to people whose cell phones ring in his court. One third were attorneys and two-thirds were spectators. But, when a witness' cell phone rang, Judge Vick had had it! (So have the rest of us!)

The abuse of cell phones has gotten so bad that it has become the top diner's complaint, according to Allan Ripp of the Zagat Restaurant Guides. In several New York restaurants, cell phone users are asked to leave the dining room to use their phones. Union Square Cafe in New York City is one restaurant that directs (requests) cell phone users to go to the (pay) phone area.

People can lose business by NOT knowing how to "work" a techno toy in a room, especially, if there is an important meeting in that room. Leigh Bohmfalk, director of marketing at an internet start-up company, had to hire a new public relations firm who would get a $35,000 per month account. For the third meeting, she arranged for their vice president to meet her CEO. "Not three minutes into the meeting, Mr. PR's cell phone rang and he took the call! With that he lost an account worth over a half a million dollars a year!"

SELF-IMPORTANCE SYNDROME
Yes, people do answer their phones in the middle of movies, plays and operas. When we are paying for an evening's entertainment (add baby-sitting costs for a young couple), having someone talk on the phone is annoying. One Michigan movie chain (Star Theaters) prohibits cell phone use and has added a special trailer that says so. Even thought the no cell phone, no pager announcements are now made in movie theaters, some people ignore the request. Self-importance is at a national high!

In 1999, actor Laurence Fishburne stopped a Broadway performance of "Lion in Winter," to ask a cell phone user to leave. It was met with enthusiastic applause. For an actor to get "out of character" is out of character. Mr. Fishburne must have been incensed.

Cell phone abuse is intrusive. A manager of a small boutique feels she "has no choice but to be included in someone's personal conversation, when customers answer their phones in the boutique." And she doesn't WANT to be included. "Their conversations are none of my business."

HOUSE CALLS
As an aside, for decades, doctors who were "on call" managed to get to their patients, deliver babies, perform emergency surgeries and NOT have beepers, pagers and cell phones. They went to parties, restaurants, symphonies and other events and still could be "found." Amazing! Life - and life-threatening - situations went on before cell phones and pagers went off!

A retired pediatrician lamented that there were not cell phones back in the early days of his medical career. His wife, Ruth, said it would have made the practice of house calls to sick children so much easier. "What irony," Dr. Bill Silverman added, "now we have cell phones and pagers - but, no one makes house calls!"

MASS IGNORANCE
Several years ago I attended a funeral mass for a teenager. In the middle of one of the prayers the unthinkable happened: someone's cell phone rang. My heart sank! How could anyone be that self-absorbed, self-important and rude? The thought that washed over me was a prayer. I prayed that the parents and family of this young man did NOT hear that phone.

Maybe the person just forgot to turn off the phone. The reality is that phones and pagers do NOT belong with us in a religious sanctuary. Especially, not at a funeral service. The techno toys have no place in these "rooms" that are sacrosanct. When we are caught transgressing the boundaries of good taste, the impression is indelible and poor.

Of course, I thought it was a one-time techno-transgression, until I spoke in Dallas/Fort Worth, where I learned of a similar situation. "When a woman's cell phone rang in church, at a funeral service for a youngster we knew, I was annoyed and embarrassed and worried. She was sitting next to me and I did not want anyone to think it was my phone that rang!" lamented one of my clients.

Even Mad-TV satirized the intrusion of the cell phone in a funeral service highlighting the inappropriate behavior of people who misuse them.

THE TECHNO TERRIBLE: "DIS"CONNECT CONFERENCE CALLING
I was giving a presentation for a major international training association of great renown and repute. The clients had to schedule conference calls to go over every detail. After one of these tedious calls, I excused myself and said goodbye. Then I tried to return another call; but, when I picked up the phone to dial, there were voices. The two women were continuing the conversation, but missed one technological detail: they did not disconnect "conference call." I stayed on the line and listened to the two women. Who would have thought that I would have heard their foolish, mean comments about the program? Had they mastered their technologically advanced conference call feature, I'd be out some great material, which I have shared with many mutual acquaintances, audiences and colleagues."

I chose not to confront them, but I know the opportunity will present itself for me to address this on my own terms.... Guess I just did!

SCHOOL DAZE: HOW NOT TO WORK A SCHOOL ROOM
When you're a parent, the do's and don'ts of cell phones should be "apparent," but they are not. Sometimes the institution that teaches the children ends up teaching the parents. According to daughter/friend, Terri Skov, "When lessons learned are for the parents as well, we really end up getting our money's worth."

The Heads of Schools' Weekly Newsletter from her sons' school recently had to advise parents to "turn off their cell phones when they are visiting classrooms or at school events." Apparently, several cell phones have rung during performances, during assemblies and classroom visits. The metamessage: "you, my child, are not as important as the phone call from someone, or anyone, else."

As a former teacher, I can tell you it is disruptive. We used to admonish the disruptive student. The teachers of today get to educate the disruptive parent. The newsletter also reminded parents NOT to let their children bring their cell phones to school. Times they are a-changing.

SELF-IMPORTANT CELL PHONE QUIZ
Have you answered your cell phone:
1. In a movie or play?
2. In a meeting?
3. During a business lunch with a client?
4. On a date?
5. During a funeral service?
6. During a religious service?
7. A. At a wedding (yours)?
7. B. At a wedding (someone else's)
8. In a lecture hall?
9. In a restaurant?
10. At a party?

If you answered yes to any of these, please reread this chapter!

Feel free to copy, send or post!

The most flattering behavior that occurs when the person says "Please hold my calls," when we are in their office. To focus and pay attention to the person in the room...is respected, remembered and revered. And, that is the sincerest form of flattery and makes a great impression.

COMMON SENSE CELL PHONE USE
There are some situations that make sense. An executive in Silicon Valley is also the custodial parent. His sons check in with him via his cell phone. "It is the best way I can figure out how to stay connected to them, no matter where they are and what they are doing, when I am at work - or out socially." My colleagues, staff, customers and friends understand that when I answer my cell phone, it's because I am Dad.

The caveat: If your kids call six times a day, your productivity could be at risk.

LOW TECH NO TOYS
It's as simple as turning down preferably turning OFF the talk radio station when a colleague, friend, co-worker or family member is in the car. Unless it's the NBA championship game that you BOTH want to hear, the message is "You just are not important nor interesting enough." And that is NO way to work any "room."

PERMISSION VS. PRESUMPTION MARKETING
Fax machines are an older gizmo in the techno toy room that is too often overworked. Seth Godin's book, Permission Marketing, should be mandatory reading for those who are not savvy networkers or smart marketers and misuse the fax machine as well as the www. Laura Fenamore, owner of Golden Gate International Speakers Bureau, Inc., has received 20-page unsolicited faxes from speakers who want to work with her. "I don't know who they are and then my fax machine is tied up with promotional materials that I never agreed to review. Can you imagine the impression that makes on me? Why would I want to recommend to my clients a speaker with so little savvy?"

Red Dana of KQED, San Francisco's PBS station, echoes the sentiment. "People explore our website and add all the random addresses they can find to their lists. They then send out numerous e-mails (or faxes) about their products without seeing if there is a fit or picking up a phone and asking who the best contact would be.

"Someone sent me forty-two e-mails about their product! That was not a sign of persistence; it is purely presumptuous."

How we correctly use the gizmos and gadgets of the 21st Century is determined by respect, regard and consideration of others. We just need to "play fair" in the techno toy rooms we enter! And, make sure we turn off those toys so that other people at the events, parties and meetings are not impacted.

ROANE'S REMINDERS
Do:

  • Use your cell phone appropriately.
  • Make sure your cell phone or pager has vibrating option.
  • Choose the least obtrusive ringer (forget the intro to the William Tell Overture!)
  • Leave it in the car or office or at home when it is not appropriate to have it with you. (See below.)

Don't:

  • Take it to church or synagogue
  • Take it to an important meeting
  • Take it to a funeral service
  • Take it to your child's school program
  • Take it on a date
  • Take it to a movie, play or opera
  • Take it on a job interview
  • Take it to a wedding or family celebration
  • Take it to a hospital room
  • Take it to a restaurant
  • Shout loudly to help transmit the sound. It doesn't help and it annoys the rest of us!

Copyright © 2000 Susan RoAne

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2001

    Mission NOT impossible...

    Being able to walk into a room with confidence is so important. And wouldn't it be nice if folks recognize your name and face when you make that entrance. Assuring that our accomplishments are visible to targeted audiences is part of 'personal publicity.' If we want people to hire us, buy from us, and invest in our companies, they have to know who we are, what we have accomplished and why they should do business with us! And...when we do walk into that room...we won't be strangers!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2000

    The Ultimate Guide to Networking!

    Susan RoAne has done it again. In her latest (and I think greatest version) of How to Work A Room, she delivers tons of common sense woven with her trademark zingers and dynamite sense of humor. You'll learn savvy techniques for working through a huge crowd or a small room--in person or online. This book belongs in both personal and professional career growth libraries.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2008

    A reviewer

    well this is my 2nd time buying this book/CD the 1st time was about 5 years ago when I made a job change and jumped head 1st into sales. At that time I was selling 250,000 a year I am now at 600,000 and hope to be at 750,000 next year. I am now making a living and having fun doing it. I am getting this to share with a friend and hope they get the same results I did.

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