Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

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Schmoozing for Dummies (like me)

Posted on Oct 19, 2011 by Lisa Ricard Claro   10 Comments | Posted in Debra Mayhew · scbwi · schmooze · WIK

According to Merriam-Webster:
The definition of schmooze (intransitive verb)
: to converse informally : chat; also : to chat in a friendly and persuasive manner especially so as to gain favor, business, or connections
Schmooze. The word sounds sleazy, doesn’t it? In an onomatopoeia kind of way.
Me? I’m a terrible schmoozer, too busy trying not to hyperventilate to dig down for the Charm and Wit. See, here’s the thing about effective schmoozing. It requires exhibiting ooh-gobs of the aforementioned C&W. And talking. To strangers.
Some writers are plenty chatty, but I’m not one of them. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. I’ll talk your ear off if we’re pals (just ask Debra Mayhew, my friend and roomie at last weekend’s WIK conference), but I’m circumspect if we share only acquaintance status.  My problems with schmoozing include shyness (my friends would never believe it), claustrophobia in crowds (a terrible malady if one wants to work a room), and general self-consciousness (“Holy cow, what if I have broccoli stuck in my teeth?!”).
So what is a non-schmoozer to do? Well, in a perfect circumstance, someone like me can still give out and collect a respectable number of business cards. Unfortunately, those perfect situations are hard to come by. But! Fortunately for me, this past weekend’s SCBWI/WIK (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators/Writing and Illustrating for Kids) conference was such an environment.
When I walked into the dessert party on Friday night, my shield was up. Oh, I smiled and nodded—and wondered how soon I could escape. But I’d forgotten a key factor.  Writers are, as a rule, a warm and friendly crowd.  And, hey, I’m a writer! I can do warm and friendly.
So, before Saturday’s keynote speech and workshops and manuscript critiques, before any of those things designed to teach me about the business of writing had even begun, I learned something important: One doesn’t have to be a born schmoozer to schmooze. 
To be a successful schmoozer you need only three things:
  1. A sincere interest in learning about others.
  2. A genuine desire to listen.
  3. **An authentic smile.
(**If your fear of The Schmooze has your smile resembling the red lips from the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” posters, circa 1975, you need more help than you’ll find on any blog. Good luck!)
As it turns out, buttercup, those three things will get you through, even if you’re not a schmoozer. In fact, they are a great substitute for that elusive C&W. Maybe even better.
So, are you a born schmoozer, or do you require a “Schmoozing for Dummies” manual? Do you enjoy “The Schmooze” or do you avoid it like anthrax? If you are a schmoozer, do you have any tips?
See you next for Book Blurb Friday!

10 Responses to "Schmoozing for Dummies (like me)"

  1. Comment by Sarah
    October 19, 2011 at 5:43 am  

    Whenever possible, I avoid informal social gatherings that require this kind of thing. I can't stand it. And, like you, it's not because I don't like people or think I'm above it. It just exhausts me, and every time I'm in a crowd like that, the only think I can think is, "run." So … I'm glad you succeeded in your schmooze. I admire you for it!

  2. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    October 19, 2011 at 5:52 am  

    Those who know me would say I am not the least bit shy, but put me in a room with strangers and I prefer to observe. I am friendly, but not good at small talk, even though I have given talks. When someone asks what I write, I stumble on my words. How do you say, "a bit of everything" without sounding conceited or dumb? I understand, Lisa.

  3. Comment by Sioux
    October 19, 2011 at 6:31 am  

    I always lead with levity when I schmooze. A bit of self-denigrating humor gets me goin'. If I can't think of a funny slam about myself that will lead into a conversation, I'll ask a question–"Hi. What did you think of the point they made about____?" That essentially has THEM beginning the real meat of the conversation, and not me. Then I have a moment to gather together some confidence.

  4. Comment by Jules
    October 19, 2011 at 8:50 am  

    I don't know about schmoozing but I can barter with the best of them. 🙂Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  5. Comment by Karen Lange
    October 19, 2011 at 9:14 am  

    Growing up, I always associated the term schmoozer with someone with less than genuine qualities. I suppose I got that idea from my parents. However, now I see the advantages of putting yourself out there and being a part of the writing (or whatever kind) of community. In a real and authentic way, of course. Good post. 🙂

  6. Comment by Pat
    October 19, 2011 at 9:40 am  

    I am like you when it comes to schmoozing. Being an introvert, I am better at listening, smiling and wanting to find out about the other person. I go home and feel drained after social gatherings with lots of strangers.

  7. Comment by Debra Mayhew
    October 19, 2011 at 10:25 am  

    Okay, I can't focus because you put my name in your labels! I feel so official. As for schmoozing, you looked like a natural. Can't wait to see you up your game at Spring Mingle! P.S. It was fun being your roomie. 🙂

  8. Comment by Joanne
    October 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm  

    Good for you!!!! I am also not the best shmoozer but I am trying.Blessings, Joanne

  9. Comment by K9friend
    October 19, 2011 at 6:30 pm  

    It's interesting how many writers call themselves introverted (myself included). I can schmooze when required, but once the event concludes, I feel like I've run a mile over an army-style obstacle course. Exhausting!

  10. Comment by Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy
    October 20, 2011 at 5:30 pm  

    I'm so glad that you had such a great time, Lisa. I am a born schmoozer, I think. I used to be the most excellent listener and need to go back to that. I talk too much these days.

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