Susan RoAne has written one of the most authoritative books on networking of the last 35 years. I had the honor of promoting her classic book, How To Work A Room, when I first broke into book publishing three decades ago. Below is an insightful interview about how her methods are still being employed today.
1. Susan, you wrote one of the most famous best-selling books on networking, How To Work A Room, years before the Internet came into existence and way before social media became a thing. Why do those principles still hold true today? The principles are evergreen. How To Work a Room is the guide to socializing for business or our personal lives. Except for the Covid years (which felt like a decade) we need to mix, mingle and meet people in any room whether it’s a biz event, fundraiser, company gathering or corporate event. And now many of us, after these over 2 years of safe distance, are rusty.
2. What is the key to working a room these days? Be prepared. You’re either invited or expected to attend so might as well make the most of the opportunity. It’s the Army’s 5 P’s. Prior planning for an event we’ll spend 2 hours or 2 days prevents poor performance.
1. Attitude. Switch from “I wonder who I’ll meet” to “I wonder who I’ll GET to meet.”
2. Self-introduction. It’s wonderful when someone introduces us around but we must
rely on ourselves.
3. Conversation. Read a newspaper or content curator. Be aware of the latest in the industry as well as human interest, sports, entertainment and
There is so much going on in the world that contributes to conversation.
With homage to Dick Tracy… it’s so easy….we now can even read the news on our watches! Have 3 conversation topics prepared just in case.
MIND YOUR MANNERS is the watchword that is important today as it was 30 years ago.
3. How can one work a virtual room? Treat the virtual room as you would an in-person gathering. Dress for the event; biz casual; not Schlubby. Why? Research indicates that when we look better. we feel better and project confidence. Remember Manners and courtesy count. Have conversation ready. Identify the purpose of the gathering and do the due diligence/research. Make sure you know the nuances of lighting, where to look (at the camera not the screen) etc. Know WHY you’re in any room or Zoom. Having that intention or purpose in mind helps us focus. Use the Chat function to introduce yourself to people. Add in your email address or linked in profile. Send private messages. Participate!!! Speak up in breakout rooms and in the main rooms. When you hear something that sparks your interest let that person know via Chat function or address them in the Zoom. “Excellent point”. “Thanks for that suggestion.
4. What works in winning people over so that they will want to do business with you? Being approachable, friendly, engaging and making people feel comfortable make ppl want to do biz with you. LISTEN when they talk and respond accordingly. Studies show that having a sense of humor and sharing laughter draws people to us. And Eye contact! More women fill the room today than a generation or two ago. How has that changed the dynamics of working a room! What we’ve learned is that the “OLD BOYS Networking will no longer work. Women are the keeper of the relationships so I see an even brighter future for women and the men they work with.
5. Are you surprised that one of your books is considered one of the all-time greats for networking? Funny thing is that How To Work a Room is not my favorite book! (The Secrets of Savvy Networking is) BUT I’m thrilled it has made a difference for so many readers worldwide. I worked for decades to make my books bestsellers on REAL legit lists. (Against some BIG odds as you know). Even thinking about what I did for decades to make that happen exhausts me!
6. What is missing from our online social media networking that needs to be changed or improved? Oh, how I wish we had social media in the days of my early books. My personal opinion is that we need to add the human voice/face to that which is KEYBored.
7. How did you learn to quickly read a room, make strategic moves on whom to talk to, and psychologically win people over, and make meaningful connections? Interestingly enough this question is not my approach, which has always been more generic and not as targeted. I knew to observe and knew who I had to talk to but I am “nice” to everyone because of one of my core beliefs. The marketing mantra is “YOU NEVER KNOW” so it pays to be friendly to all.
8. Today’s room increasingly has more diversity — of race, gender, sexuality, faith, and nationality. What role, if any, do these changing demographics play in how we tend to network? As I wrote in 1993 in The Secrets of SAVVY Networking, “If our networks look like us, went to school with us, believe what we do etc…we are missing out!” we must have DIVERSE networks of people or we shut ourselves off of sources, resourses,. And that is the opposite of Networking, it’s NOTworking. It does not serve us to live in a monochromatic world! We can use social media, email and that OLD SCHOOL TOOL, the phone or phone app, on those cameras we carry to remind people who we are!
About Susan RoAne:She is a keynote speaker, best-selling author of How To Work a Room, and named one of Forbes’ Top 25 Networking Experts. For more information, please see: www.susanroane.com.
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About Brian Feinblum
Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This blog, with over 4,000 posts over the past decade, was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by WinningWriters.com as a “best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult: .