A Guide to Schmoozing

Many twentysomethings’ biggest career fear and biggest career barrier is schmoozing.

Yes, you have to schmooze.

If you’ve been following our Go Getter Girl’s Guide series, you read last week’s post about creating your own luck. How can you create your own luck if you aren’t meeting new people, planting seeds, making connections, demonstrating your talents, and asking others for advice? You can’t.

Chapter 4 of The Go-Getter Girl’s Guide is called “How to Schmooze.” I happen to love schmoozing. To me, schmoozing is about talking to others, seeing what makes the other person tick, asking questions, seeing that person light up about their passions, and connecting them with others who can be helpful. Since I’m passionate about schmoozing, I’m going to give my own interpretation about this VERY important topic.

Let’s clear up a common misconception first: Schmoozing does not equal an obnoxious, self-absorbed and self-centered sales pitch. You are not giving a hard sell of yourself. In fact, great “schmoozer’s” don’t really talk about themselves at all. Schmoozing does not mean that every conversation is to sell your product or service or to land a new job. Sometimes, it’s just a nice little conversation that is not intended to be anything more.

Here’s an example:

Nicole spots adorable woman in cute suit, killer shoes, and a confident stride.

Nicole: I absolutely love your suit and I had to tell you! I’ve been looking for a cute skirt suit like that!

Woman: Oh thanks! I wasn’t sure if it was too fun for this event, so I’m glad you like it.

Nicole: Oh absolutely. Show your personality off! It’s our biggest asset, right?! By the way, I’m Nicole. (extends hand for a shake)

Woman: Hi, I’m Ellie.

Nicole: What do you do Ellie?

Woman: Responds.

From here…

I’d ask several questions about her profession including how she got into her field, what types of projects she’s working on now, and maybe even where she’s from. My goal is to learn about her, get her excited and find out things we have in common.

I’d also pay compliments (only genuine ones) if they were appropriate, and exchange business cards if the situation was relevant.

I’d try to keep the conversation about Ellie as much as possible and learn about her.

Schmoozing is not meant to be a source of anxiety. In fact, if you start with a genuine compliment, it’s a pretty natural conversation from there.

Other schmoozing notes:

If someone else joins the conversation, be sure to do the “sorority recruitment transition.” Remember that one sorority girls? Example: your acquaintence Susan walks up to your conversation with Ellie. “Hey Susan! This is Ellie. Ellie is the advertising director at ABC Magazine and actually graduated from Wisconsin, just like you! Susan is the social media manager at XYZ Consumer Goods. We were just talking about how much we love living in Chicago.” From here, it becomes easy to pull Susan into the conversation without missing a beat.

Great topics for conversation: current events, movies, fashion, books, TV shows, new restaurants, recent/upcoming vacations, sports, weather.

Bad topics: anything too personal and anything negative! Avoid this!!!!

It’s ok to leave the conversation before it dies. You can say something like, “Ellie, it was great meeting you! I am going to go grab a drink. Good luck with your upcoming move!”

If the idea of schmoozing makes you want to hide under a rock, The Go-Getter Girl’s Guide recommends creating a simple action plan. Here are a few things that can be premeditated:

Define three specific people or types of people you want to speak to.

What three questions would you like to ask each type of person?

What three current “nuggets” would you like to discuss?

So there you have it, Nicole’s guide to schmoozing.

Do you feel that schmoozing is a requirement in advancing your career, confidence and contacts? How have you used schmoozing in your own life? What other helpful tips would you give to girls who fear schmoozing?

Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.

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