According to Urban Dictionary the definition of “Schmooze” is: Making ingratiating small talk – talk that is business oriented, designed to both provide and solicit personal information but avoids overt pitching. Most often an artifact of “networking.” It is more art than science but can be learned.
But, blimey Charlie is schmoozing difficult!
I admit I can’t do it.
I can’t do small talk. I can’t talk to someone with an underlying intent of getting something out of it.
I never have been able to.
When I left drama school we had the usual showcase performance with casting directors and agents attending with the ‘networking’ after – but false situations like that fill me with dread and after 5 minutes I had to leave.
I simply don’t have the courage to just walk up to someone and start a random conversation in order to find out who they are and what I can get out of them – be it a job, a sale, etc.
How do you do it?
How can you learn it?
As a business owner I’ve attended business networking events – and the same thing. I can’t talk about myself. I’m happy to listen to other people, but opening up and making the right kind of schmoozy noises, I find excruciatingly painful.
Even if I try to put on a different persona and ‘act’ the part I still fail, because deep down I’m just too nervous, believe that people can see right through me and never know quite what to say – there’s a reason I always hated improve classes at drama school! (I’m one of those people who can never quite get the right words out, and then 5 minutes later think “damn, I should have said that!”)
Thankfully, these days I don’t need to go to networking events – the business area I’m in doesn’t hang out at the normal business events. But I have to do the dreaded cold calling! Which I find slightly easier, because it’s on the phone and I have a script. Then if I get to meet a prospective client it’s because I’ve already spoken to them and they want to hear more – so it’s not a cold, having to make small talk situation.
That’s probably why I’m so rubbish when it comes to dating. I’ve always been able to talk to boys/men, but when it comes to one I actually like and they ask me out for coffee I’m actually petrified of saying or doing the wrong thing that when I try to be myself I always end up looking a complete wally.
If anyone has any tips on how to schmooze effectively, please let me know – I think I need all the help I can get 😉