Schmoozing is for suckers.
That’s right, I said it. Schmoozing is for suckers. And I’ve finally grown tired of people using the word as a synonym for conversation, networking, mingling, small talk and chatter.
So I decided to look up the word schmoozing in the dictionary for the first time. And I found three VERY interesting facts that you might like to know:
1) It’s defined as, ‘To converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage.’
2) It derives from the Yiddish term shmuesn, or ‘rumor.’
3) Synonyms include: gossip, bad-mouth, blather and tattle-tale.
I don’t know about you, but that’s NOT the way I communicate. Nor is it the way I’d want people describing the way I communicate.
I also Googled the word schmoozing. 2,272,000 pages came up. The first dozen or so were Amazon links for books written on schmoozing, most of which I’ve read; some of which were good. Unfortunately, schmoozing is a word that carries with it certain stereotypes. And I don’t think I’m alone here, but, here’s what I picture when I imagine a ‘schmoozer’:
But that’s just me. That’s MY truth, not THE truth.
I’m sure there are a lot of people who don’t consider schmoozing to be in bad taste. And that’s totally cool. If you’re schmoozing in order to develop and maintain mutually valuable relationships, to engage, make friends, have fun, and expand your network, cool. More power to ya!
But dictionaries don’t lie. And I think the big idea behind schmoozing has to do with attitude. After all, approachability starts in your mind.
Therefore, I’d like to offer the following list:
Four Ways to Avoid Being Labeled as a Schmoozer
1. Don’t monopolize the conversation. You were born with two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionately. Ask creative, fun and interesting questions like, ‘What’s the best part about your job?’ Then be quiet.
2. Slow down. Walk, talk and move between conversations at a casual, relaxed pace. Make it easy for someone to get your attention. Don’t hop from person to person like a politician.
3. Exit gracefully. After talking to someone for a few minutes, conclude your conversation commensurate with the connection you’ve just made, i.e., ‘I’m sure we’ll talk again later tonight,’ ‘I’ll drop you an email and we can talk more about it,’ ‘Let’s find a good time for both of us when we can continue this conversation,’ or ‘I’m sure we both want to meet other people here too, so I’ll let ya go for now!’
4. Sit down. Take a break. Relax. Watch the room. Let people come to YOU for a change. Remember, approachability is a two way street: you’re both the approach-ER and the approach-EE.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Do you work with any schmoozers?