Schmoozin’ (or not)

skijumpOh, c’mon, it’ll be fun! And it was fun. But. It was a usability association event and my boss wanted to go and all of us on the team are association members but most of us turn into pumpkins not too long after the work day ends, so dragging us out at night is not easy. I shouldn’t really speak for the others on my team but we’re known as the geriatric group so you can just figger. A couple of us replied that we would be up for it as a group, i.e., none of this solo stuff. When you attend something like that alone, you have to schmooze and we all are not particularly crazy about schmoozing. I’m not sure it bothers the boss but he is a rather singular person (don’t ask). But yaknow, we are all computer-type people. We sit in nice clean, quiet cubicles and read and write code and very very specific specifications for how web pages, et al, should will work. I mean, we can blather on about what we’re doing at great length. The problem is, who the heck would want to hear about it? And the *rest* of my life — including my employment history — is just so weird, I never know where the heck to start!

So each one of us, all on our own, managed to arrive “fashionably” late. You know. To minimize the schmoozing time before the presentation. And wouldn’t you know? Of all people, *I*, yer own favo-rite blahgger, ended up schmoozing a bit. With a very talented young woman that I once did a school project with and a couple other people. And I managed to avoid another er, not-so-talented young woman that I managed to avoid doing school projects with.

I will have to figger out some schmoozing strategies. Maybe it’s just that we’re *all* standing around looking awkward. It’s easiest for me to talk to strangers when I am *doing* something. Besides looking awkwardly around and twiddling my thumbs, that is. If I can do something constructive with my camera and/or laptop and/or iPhone or whatever, I have a role and I can either watch silently from my geeky little perch or engage anyone with questions about me without me having to be the center of focus. Er, not that most of the people at tonight’s event don’t have similar types of technology available to them… Or difficulties with schmoozing… Or… Hmm, maybe we need to redesign these events to make them more, well, you know, usable. Organize things so that people interact without having to work at it. How… I’m thinking and I am not thinking about those darn ice-breaker games. Those don’t work for those of us who just want to be *home* in the evening. At least not for me.

Do y’all like to schmooze? Or not? If you do, what are your strategies? If you don’t, well, how do you manage these events? Or are you a natural?

3 Responses to “Schmoozin’ (or not)”

  1. Margaret Says:

    I don’t necessarily like to schmooze; situations with people just standing around awkwardly make me uncomfortable. HOWEVER, everyone tells me that I’m very good at it; 29 years of teaching make me conversational, I guess. I try to get people talking about themselves, whatever they’re interested in. I hunt for common ground and put in my two cents worth when appropriate. I make little quips or sarcastic comments and laugh at myself. It seems to work pretty well, mostly. But it is hard work at times–I feel very anti-social after work after a day of dealing with constant people. I’m OK when I’m on stage in the classroom, but I don’t do many social events in the evenings. (too weary)

  2. Jay Says:

    I am not really good at small talk, and find that I lean on my significant other, who is, or end up talking to one person for a long time (and then feel that they probably want to escape).

  3. Dog Mom Says:

    Hm. I find that I can do pretty well at “phone-schmoozing”, but that’s always for limited periods of time and generally consists of inanities. Lately, there’ve been questions about how business has been going (!), which means finding diplomatic ways of stating “we’ve been quoting out the wazoo, but no one’s ordering anything”. Especially with GM with one foot on the proverbial banana peel and the other in the grave – that means that their Weld Tool Center just up the street – our biggest customer – which just laid off approx 1/3 of its workforce may not be our biggest customer for too much longer. Which then adds more strain to the garden-variety phone-schmoozing…

    Like Margaret, I try to find something in what my customer says that i can glom onto and let THEM do the talking. Sometimes, just making the other person feel like The Most Important Person in the Room while s/he is in your presence is enough to get THEM on a roll so all you have to do is play the “supporting role”. I guess that’s how I’ve managed to get a few customers to *ask* for ME (of all people) when they call! And it’s been totally unintentional!!! (Am I complaining? Absolutely NOT! 8) ).