Published on October 2nd, 2011 | by thevyne0
How to Work a Room
Okay, so maybe you’re not the life of the party or perhaps you prefer traveling with a pack. But what happens when you have to attend an event on your own? Maybe it’s related to your job or perhaps it’s an opportunity to land another job. Whatever the reason, it’s imperative that when it’s showtime, you know how to work the room like a pro. So here are a few tips to get you started, and if you have a few, feel free to share!:
Look the part – First things first, if you’re going to command a room you need to have a commanding presence and that starts with your appearance. If you’re going to an event, be it work or otherwise; ensure that you’ve tighten up all appearance point:
- Hair– ladies you know when it’s time to visit the salon and you’re trying to stretch it one more week. Consider not stretching it when you have an event to go to.
- Make-up – Even if you’re not into make-up, at least choose a flattering lip color and mascara to punch up your look.
- Nails – If you’re not one to get your nails done regularly then at least choose a neutral color when you do so you can get more wear out of it. Nothing worse than holding a wine glass at an event and exposing your chipped polish.
- Outfit – This goes without saying. Ensure your outfit fits you to a tee and consider including some pop of color, be it the shirt beneath your blazer, great jewelry, or a fun scarf.
- Shoes – Whatever effort you put into your hair, face, outfit and nails is all for not if your shoe game is a mess. So don’t cut corners and resist the temptation to just rock a flat shoe (regardless of how stylish it is). You’re going for maximum commanding presence, so break out the stylish pump (and switch into the flats on your way home).
Get the Gift of Gab – If you go to an event and refrain from talking to anyone, you may as well have not gone in the first place. So muster up your courage and approach people. Start by introducing yourself and extending your hand. Then ask something generic but open enough to help you strike up a meaningful conversation. An example would be a question like, “How did you get involved with this organization?” You can modify this question depending on the situation and the key is really listening to the answer so that you can continue to carry on the conversation with thoughtful responses and additional questions.
Smile, Early and Often – There’s something about a dazzling smile that lights up the room and more importantly makes people feel open to want to talk to you, approach you and notice you. So even if you’re nervous or uncomfortable, smile anyway.
Be Prepared – You should of course always have your business card on you, and plenty of them so you don’t run out. But don’t just have them on you, have them in a place that’s easy to access when someone asks for one or when you want to give it to someone. If you have an outside pocket on your blazer, put a stash of cards in there or at least carry a stylish card holder on the inside pocket of your bag. Nothing worse than having to dig to the bottom of your bag, exposing all your purse randomness, to find your card in front of someone you’ve just met.
Go Easy on the Food– It’s tempting to make a beeline for the food table when you arrive to an event solo, but press pause on doing this. First off it’s terribly hard to shake hands and engage in conversation while balancing a plate of meats and choking down cubes of cheese. Instead, if need be, go to the beverage table first, have a glass of wine and then begin to work the room by smiling and approaching people. Save the food table for when you really need a break from working the room.
Make Eye Contact – Sometimes nerves in a networking situation can get the best of you and turn any person into a bashful version of themselves. Be aware of this tendency and instead force yourself to look people in the eye, particularly when you’re introducing yourself.
Build Your Body Language – Body language can convey messages to support the brand and image you’re trying to portray. When commanding a room is your objective its important to be mindful of your shoulders slumping, your head bowing down and fiddling nervously with items in your reach. Be sure to stand in a confident stance (strike a pose) because you never know who is watching you from across the room. Also make sure you’re deliberate and intentional with your hand movements (yet another reason to press pause on the food table until after you’ve sufficiently worked the room).
Do you have suggestions on how to work a room? Do share!