How to Work a Room

Book Notes

As someone who is not 100% awkward in social situations, but is probably 95% awkward internally, only 30% awkward externally, I find reading books that teach about reducing that awkwardness to be very helpful. This book was, unsurprisingly, very helpful. Many of the lessons and techniques presented have, also unsurprisingly, worked for me since I started applying them.

Take, for instance, the realization that if you're at a meetup or conference, you already have something in common with everyone at the meetup and conference. Hello, smalltalk and ways to introduce yourself to everyone else. How wonderful is that realization? Answer: way wonderful!

The format of the book has summary of each chapter at the end of it, which I greatly appreciated.

This book is worth reading, even if you're not in sales. Having the confidence to approach people, and being able not to worry about what to do when you're in small and big groups, is great.

In my research for How to Create Your Own Luck, I learned that those who turn serendipity into success say yes when they want to say no. Because they do that, they are able to parlay possibilities and coincidence into opportunities they otherwise would not have had.
Page: 2

Tom Hanks turned to Ed Burns and said, “Please tell me that I was nice to you.” Burns replied, “Yes, you were very nice.” Tom Hanks looked relieved and said he was glad. Here is a man with great acclaim, celebrity, career success and wealth and his first concern was that he was nice to this young man who had brought him coffee.
Page: 5

We show our character not by how we treat people in a position to help us but in how we treat people who can’t—or so we think. Being nice in any room pays off.
Page: 5

If you are sitting in a meeting; attending a convention, a board retreat or a yearly conference; or are involved in a keynote presentation, you are already in a group with whom you have something in common. You just need some strategies; tips; opening and exit lines; and mostly, the permission to talk to those still unknown colleagues, cronies, contacts, clients, customers and potential friends.
Page: 14

At a presentation for a professional services firm, one of the partners wondered how he could possibly introduce a person he found boring to a client. His colleague provided the perfect response, “What’s boring for you may be fascinating for someone else who shares their interests.”
Page: 14

Good social skills positively impact one’s well-being and life expectancy.   
Those who can mingle and make contacts and conversation will shine in any room.   
Conversation is the cornerstone of team building and collaboration.   
Face-to-face contact with bosses, colleagues and clients requires a personal touch.   
When you’re in the same room, you already have something in common.   
No one is boring when you discover their area of passion.
Page: 16

Life is too short, and time too precious, to spend an hour or two squandering opportunities and, in the process, having a bad time.
Page: 19

But at most events we can’t count on being introduced to anyone, let alone the people we most want to meet. We are on our own when it comes to circulating. We 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.
Page: 20

There is an old adage, “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!
Page: 20

If you don’t have any skin in the game, you never win.
If you don’t take the risk and reach out to people, you never make new friends or new contacts.
Most of us are strong enough to withstand a temporarily chipped ego.
Page: 24

The person who appears to be disinterested may not be judging or rejecting us, but may be distracted with another worry.
Page: 24

But when we allow negative self-talk to prevail, we can become overwhelmed by the roadblocks and talk ourselves out of taking a risk. If we don’t seize the moment, it will be gone, along with the opportunity.
Page: 30

[A]lways pay tribute to that great old overused line, “Don’t I know you from someplace?”
Page: 31

One way to muster up the courage to take a risk and talk to strangers is to ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Surprisingly enough, your worst fear is usually not a matter of life and death. And the odds are that disaster will not occur—and that even if it does, you will survive.
Page: 32

Taking the risk is almost always worth the discomfort. It’s a cliché, but “nothing ventured, nothing gained” makes sense. With technology moving the world at warp speed, embracing real-time opportunities for face-to-face connections makes sense.
Page: 32

- Be aware of negative self-talk and change it into positive self-talk.
- Extending yourself to people feels risky, but the benefits are well worth the discomfort.
- Remember, what you think is the worst thing that could happen most often won’t.
Page: 34

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