How to Schmooze Without Being Sleazy

Schmoozing gets a bad rap … but it shouldn’t. Use these nine guidelines to become a master networker.

The term “schmoozing” sometimes takes on a negative connotation–it can feel somehow ingratiating, insincere, or pushy. But if you get it right, schmoozing can help you build valuable networks.

I am still a low-level novice at the art of schmoozing, but I consulted a high-level master, Bob Kobek from Mobius. Here are his 10 rules for schmoozing without the sleaze.

1. Idle chatter is the enemy of schmoozing. Sincere interest in the other person is the objective.

2. Schmooze is for everyone. If you want a successful event, schmooze your server staff, the event manager, the valet, not just the attendees.

3. Schmoozing is not situational. It doesn’t matter whether you’re online or offline.

4. Schmoozing always builds up rather than tearing down. Try to speak positively–whether about other people, the event you’re at, or even the conversations you’re in.

5. Schmoozing is time-sensitive. If the conversation has run its course, graciously exit. Then be the first with a follow-up email, a thank-you note or an appreciative call.

6. Schmoozing is not arrogant. You should always be thinking about the other person first.

7. Schmoozing is a balancing act. Get the recipe right: It’s four parts listening, three parts appreciating, two parts laughter … and just one part wit.

8. Schmoozing is honest. It is not bribing, manipulating or falsely flattering. It is about connecting at a personal level in a business context.

9. There is always more room for schmoozing.