Networking is an essential part of building and sustaining a successful professional career, but it’s a skill that doesn’t come naturally to many people. When people refer to it as “schmoozing,” it can sometimes feel downright sleazy.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though, Tom Searcy writes for Inc.com. Try these tips for classy schmoozing, courtesy of Bob Kobek of Mobius.
- Show genuine interest. People know when you’re not being sincere, so be sure to show real interest in everyone you talk to and try to bring some substance to your conversation.
- Include everyone. Show interest with everyone at an event—including the valet, servers and other staff—not just the people you think may be able to help your career.
- Keep things consistent. Don’t act differently when you’re schmoozing online and offline. You’re the same person no matter how you’re interacting.
- Stay positive. A good schmoozer doesn’t hate or complain, so keep the conversation upbeat and complimentary.
- Don’t drag it out. Conversations can’t go on forever, so when one has run its course just wrap it up. You can make a follow-up connection later with an email message, thank-you note or phone call.
- Put others first. Don’t just go on about yourself or focus on your goals for the conversation. Think about your fellow conversants’ interests.
- Maintain your balance. Don’t be too loud, quiet or funny. Instead try this recipe: four parts listening, three parts appreciating, two parts laughter, and just one part wit.
- Tell the truth. Connect with people in a sincere manner. Don’t be manipulative or falsely flattering.
- Never stop. You can always do more and benefit from additional schmoozing.
Schmoozing isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s a valuable part of your networking toolkit.
— Adapted from “How to Schmooze Without Being Sleazy,” Tom Searcy, Inc.com.