Working a Room

Meeting others is something that we all know how to do. But in public life you meet hundreds of
people, often in groups or in crowded rooms. The secret is to establish a personal link with each person, even in the briefest of encounters.

Your handshake should be brief and firm, but the grip should not be too tight.

Make direct eye contact, and introduce yourself (if the situation requires it).

If you already know the person, you are being reacquainted. If you don’t, ask the person for her name

If you don’t remember a name, say hello and listen carefully. Often the person will say something that tips you off. If remember where you met the person, but not the name make some reference to the event.

Work out a protocol with your partner (if that person is with you). If you don’t mention a name within a
few seconds, your partner can say something like, “I didn’t get your name…”

Listen carefully to introductions if someone who knows people in the group is accompanying you.

There may be those who want to engage you in lengthy discussion. Have an understanding with the person accompanying you about moving along. If that doesn’t happen, do so yourself, by saying something like: “Nice to meet you. I’ve got to move along here and say hello to these folks.”

Do not ask open-ended questions of people you meet that will invite long answers.

In the brief moments you have with an individual, focus on her completely. People feel offended if you look over their shoulder while they are talking to you.

If the event or room is a small one, try to meet everyone there. In a more populated setting you’ll be
able to meet only some of the people.

The above techniques can apply in a variety of situations – at political meetings, social events, canvassing at plant gates, subway or bus stops, or mainstreeting. You will quickly develop a skill at doing it.