How to Win Over a Room November 08 2011

How to Win Over a Room


Let’s make one thing perfectly clear; when you are in a room full of influential people, there is a distinct difference between simply meeting someone, and winning them over. Too many men simply go in, shake hands with those people that they consider important, and leave. Job well done right? Wrong.  So how do you go about making an impression from start to finish?

The entrance

Most people know that you may never have a second chance to make a first impression. Some people think that first impression starts when you introduce yourself to a person, but it is important to understand that people are observing you the moment that you walk through the door. Just as you are supposed to be keenly aware of what is going on around you, do you believe that the others in the room are not? While it may feel uncomfortable to walk into an unfamiliar room, the important thing is to remember that this is YOUR room. You are the person in charge, even if you only earn a fraction of the person standing right next to you. Entering a room to network is like walking up to a dog you do not know – if you show fear or weakness, the dog is going to realize it. Confidence is what is going to keep you looking comfortable. Stand in the middle of the room, do not clog up the entrance or run to the darkest corner of the room where no one is likely to see you.

Make the connection

What can you do if you do not like walking up to people you do not know without having some sort of icebreaker ready? Simple, is there food in the room? Make your way to the buffet table. Not only are people likely to leave their guard down around the food, thus making them more accessible to talk to, but it also provides an immediate icebreaker. Be sure to carry your drink in your left hand, this way your right hand can be used for handshakes. You do not want to do one of those uncomfortable reverses before you are about to meet someone.

Pick your spots

If you are in a crowded room, keep an eye out for people who are standing by themselves. You are going to make the best connection when a person is alone. If you approach two people talking, you run the risk of appearing nosey or interrupting a conversation, but if there is already a group of three people or more standing around, it makes it easier to jump into the conversation. Address the whole group, and make eye-contact with everyone. Later on, if the conversation allows, you can speak more in-depth with one person.

Open-ended questions

If you are talking to someone you do not know, ask them open-ended questions. This is the way to get more information out of them rather than just a yes or no answer that will lead to uncomfortable silences. Ultimately, you are searching for a common denominator between you and the person you just met. If it's unique enough, that common denominator can stick in people's minds.

Make notes

You want to be the guy that people remember? Take notes. It doesn't matter if you write them down in private, record them on your phone, or if you were blessed with a great memory. But if a person tells you their name and some interesting information about themselves, remember it. People love the sound of their own name, and that’s why it becomes vital you remember it in case you meet them again.

The exit

Don’t be one of those people who simply vanishes into thin air - it is rude to a host and some people may be confused as to where you went. Alternatively, don't milk your goodbye for all it is worth either. This is not a Broadway theatrical performance. Say a quick goodbye to the host and those you had a meaningful talk with. If you’re going to follow-up on something, say so, and keep your promise.

Good luck.