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February 01, 2006

The Art of Schmoozing

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“It's not what you know or who you know, but who knows you.” Susan RoAne.

The Guy Kawasaki Theory of Schmoozing version 1.0 was ad hoc: get to know the people that you need for a specific deal. It was short-term and focused.Version 2.0 is ad infinitum--maybe even ad nauseam. It's taken me twenty years, but I've figured out that it's much easier to make a sale, build partnerships, create joint ventures--you name it--with people that you already know than with people you just met.

The key is to establish a relationship before you need it. And this is why I'd like to provide the art of schmoozing.

  1. Understand the goal. Darcy Rezac in his book, The Frog and the Prince, wrote the world's best definition of schmoozing: “Discovering what you can do for someone else.” Herein lies eighty percent of the battle: great schmoozers want to know what they can do for you, not what the you can do for them. If you understand this, the rest is just mechanics.
  2. Get out. Schmoozing is an analog, contact sport. You can't do it alone from your office on the phone or via a computer. You may hate them but force yourself to go to tradeshows, conventions, and seminars. It's unlikely that you'll be closing a big order with someone you met online at MySpace or via Skype. Get out there and press flesh.
  3. Ask good questions, then shut up. The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozers are good listeners, not good talkers. Ask softball questions like, “What do you do?” “Where are you from?” “What brings you to this event?” Then listen. Ironically, you'll be remembered as an interesting person.
  4. Unveil your passions. Only talking about business is boring. Good schmoozers unveil their passions after they get to know you. Great schmoozers lead off with their passions. Your passions make you an interesting person--you'll stick out because you're the only person not talking about 802.11 chipsets at the wireless conference. Personally, my passions are children, Macintosh, Breitling watches, digital photography, and hockey if you ever meet me.
  5. Read voraciously. In order to be a good schmoozer, you need to read voraciously--and not just the EE Times, PC Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. You need a broad base of knowledge so that you can access a vast array of information during conversations. Even if you are a pathetic passionless person, you can at least be a well-read one who can talk about a variety of topics.
  6. Follow up. Over the course of my career, I've given away thousands of business cards. At one point, I thought I was nuts because if all those people called or emailed me, I'd never get anything done. Funny thing: hardly anyone ever follows up. Frankly, I don't know why people bother asking for a business card if they're not going to follow up. Great schmoozers follow up within twenty-four hours--just a short email will do: “Nice to meet you. I hope we can do something together. Hope your blog is doing well. I loved your Breitling watch. I have two tickets to the Stanley Cup Finals if you want to attend.” Include at least one thing to show the recipient that she isn't getting a canned email.
  7. Make it easy to get in touch. Many people who want to be great schmoozers, ironically, don't make it easy to get in touch with them. They don't carry business cards, or their business cards don't have phone numbers and email addresses. Even if they provide this information, it's in grey six-point type. This is great if you're schmoozing teenagers, but if you want old, rich, famous, and powerful people to call or email, you'd better use a twelve-point font. (These are the same folks that need the thirty-point font vis-a-vis the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.)
  8. Give favors. One of my great pleasures in life is helping other people; I believe there's a big Karmic scoreboard in the sky. God is keeping track of the good that you do, and She is particularly pleased when you give favors without the expectation of return from the recipient. The scoreboard always pays back. You can also guess that I strongly believe in returning favors for people who have helped you.
  9. Ask for the return of favors. Good schmoozers give favors. Good schmoozers also return favors. However, great schmoozers ask for the return of favors. You may find this puzzling: Isn't it better to keep someone indebted to you? The answer is no, and this is because keeping someone indebted to you puts undue pressure on your relationship. Any decent person feels guilty and indebted. By asking for, and receiving, a return favor, you clear the decks, relieve the pressure, and set up for a whole new round of give and take. After a few rounds of give and take, you're best friends, and you have mastered the art of schmoozing.

Written at: Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, Orlando, Florida.

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Comments

salut. se que vous fait m'enterese bien.

Good schmoozers never ask a question which can be answered by a yes or no reply. If the answer is a simple no, the shmoozing is over.

Great blog post. I enjoyed reading the comments as well. Every event is an opportunity to make a friend. I recommend "The Art of Friendship : 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections" by Roger Horchow and Sally Horchow. A very easy to read book, about the benefits of interacting with humanity.

Breitling watch will be my first bid splurge.

I'm quite new to blogging and have just received a Schmoozer Award and can appreciate how it works so well in business.

Generating kindness isn't difficult and should be standard practice but too often businesses are just in it for the rewards and don't analyse the customer relationship.

How can I have missed this blog before? Thanks for all the great advice!
Love that quote og Susan!

Thanks for a perfect blog - one of the best Ive seen on marketing an business start up!

Thanks for the great tips. I'm about to graduate and whether or not you call it networking or schmoozing, these tips will definitely help me.

the art of networking is explained in a down to earth lucid form it gives simple strategy to establish human chain to win people and their heart.HUMAN CHAIN IS THE STRONGEST CHAIN.great job well done

Get people talking about subjects that they're passsionate about. I remember asking this woman about her job and she just averted her eyes and muttered some stock phrase. Then I inquired as to her hobbies and what she loves about life. We got into this really interesting discussion about tattooing. She loved tattoos and told me all about the art and the industry. We established a real connection by discussing something that she loved.

Being a psychologist I would view it from a behavioural perspective. I feel that open networkers show a "personality type" - very pleasant, helpful and giving. In the process when you are giving you also get therefore enahnce the learning process. It is always a two way traffic. When you do not give you do not get.

Most people on linked.in, I have noticed do not even want to introduce you to another person.

Definitely, definitely schmooze. I meet the most incredible contacts just by being out.

I do a lot of these too and they do work.

I was thinking of writting a post on networking.
this is brilliant.

thanks.

GREAT post. I thought about how this goes far beyond just schmoozing - but into sharing our faith, political views, community organizing, fund raising. Deep thoughts, Guy...

For the past few days upon discovering your blog, I never missed visiting it trying to read all your posts. Thanks!
I have a blog about injection mold making but it is too narrow, too dull, not even a mold maker finds it interesting. Reading your post can change the way I write.

Thanks for your suggestions. In the world of virtual networking we don't want to forget how to have a face-to-face conversation. One can create a brand advocate for selling you to others with your suggestions. I would offer the suggestion that "if you want it, give it away."
Doug C.
http://the16thminute.blogspot.com/
http://www.linkedin.com/in/dougcaldwell

Love the post - especially #9 - I'm glad you pointed that out. People love to feel "even" as evidenced by the theory of reciprocity.
For a young marketing professional like me, your wise advice is great to hear! I'll pass the word along to my fellow young professionals, this is great to keep in mind!

Once I finally figured out that if you do favors with absolutely NO regard for anything to be done for you in return...I have been amazed at how often things naturally flow your way. What you put out, comes back...perhaps?

Ask good questions, then shut up.
Listenning is better than speaking. Some times you ask questions about the matter he want to expound : means you are interested in the content that he speak.

We probably need to find a new word becaus schmoozing has taken on such a bad connotation. But the end goal is simply to make people feel good about themselves and in hand make a connection with them.
My wife accueses me of schmoozing but I do it unconciously, it's simply a matter of "How do I wanted to be treated or approached?" I think about the few great restaurants where the chef or owner came out and made me feel special in a crowded room. That's the art, making someone feel like a friend without being overly familiar.
A missing tip - Use a person's name and use it often. It helps you remember it as well. Our name is music to our ears and people pay attention.

Interesting tips on schmoozing. If a product or service you sell is a small commitment, how much of a relationship do you need to establish before pitching anything.
Example: If I was selling $50 vitamin bottles, I wouldn't schmooze one person for months before I ask him to sample and buy my bottle.

On the flip side, if I wanted to sell financial services and I wouldnt' expect a prospect at a networking function to open his pocketbook and roll over his 401k after meeting me one time.

How do you gauge when is a good time to invite someone in for an appointment. Or ask for business?


Some 'advice' from the readers here sounds like it comes straight out of 'cheesy pick-up lines handbook'.. If somebody ever asked me 'what do you love', I will probably say 'silence' and walk away.

To be a great networker, you have to be genuinely interested in people (yes even if all you really want is a deal!) and you have to be genuinely interesting and funny.

The reason why Guy K is a great schmoozer is because he is funny, he engages with people (even if just for the second, but wait till you meet Bill Clinton), and he is good with follow-ups when people get in touch. He couldn't do this if all he was chasing was a deal.

BTW if I answered the question 'what do you love', will the listener remember it one year down the line? And therein lies the rub!

Hi Guy,

I am not a natural schmooze machine, but here's someone whom I think fits the bill. http://lfmsdm.mit.edu/news_articles/thuvara/thuvara.html

I know Vineet (he was my senior at IIT Delhi)and a natural connector. to him connecting was an end in itself, not a means to another. I believe he did grasp the true spirit of entrepreneurship (in fact he convinced us to branch out on our own)as mentioned in his award.

If you are in Redmond, be sure to check him up, for I am sure he fits every word of t what you have written besides being a great guy *no pun inteded* to know.

Yes, indeed... once you've mastered faking sincerity, the rest comes easy.

Typo. Section 9. Guility -> Guilty.

*******************
You're right. Thanks for pointing this out!

Guy

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