Conversation starters, fond farewells

I’m the development shrink.  I know you’re frustrated by how much I ask you to prepare on your own.  Particularly when there are so very many folks on the web who will just give you lists of “great conversation starters for networking.”

Just remember how many lists Cosmopolitan magazine puts out into the world.  100 ways to please your man, surprise your man, keep him happy in bed, etc.  If anything were that simple, such magazines would be out of business.  They’re not revealing the secrets of the universe.

They’re fun to read…but you probably shouldn’t take their advice too seriously.
They’re fun to read…but you probably shouldn’t take their advice too seriously.

Listen to me carefully: if you go to a party with a memorized list of conversation starters and roll through them, that’s exactly what it will sound like.  Do you want to be known as the person who was trying so hard/was so horribly socially awkward/etc. that they memorized conversation starters to get through the holiday bagel reception?

But Cosmo keeps selling those magazines…and it’s because people WANT them.

So I’m willing to give you what you want, too.   Read more

Help! How do you work a room, anyway?

Q: I am going to about a million holiday cocktail parties and receptions in the next month, and I have a horrible secret that keeps me up at night every time I have to go to one of these: I don’t know what I’m doing.  All I want to do is stand on the sidelines, watching everyone else from my hiding place near the bar, until I get enough courage to say hi to the person who invited me so they know I came and then run away as quickly as possible.  How does everyone else do it?

The dreaded cocktail party.  They make it look so easy on TV…what’s the secret?
The dreaded cocktail party.  They make it look so easy on TV…what’s the secret?

A:Stupidly, the first thing that pops into my mind as an answer is that corny Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ad campaign (though clearly I’m not the only person to internalize this marketing) where they showed you a series of how different people ate their product.  It’s interesting to know how other people attack the cocktail party scenario, but ultimately, you need to know how YOU are going to work the room. Read more

Back to School Week – Penny Social

Ever hear of a Penny Social?  They were a popular event at my high school and surrounding counties back in the late 80’s/early 90’s…but in my life as a consultant, when I bring it up as a useful twist on the white elephant and rummage sales that some of my clients are planning, it’s like I’ve ceased to speak English. A what now?

It turns out that both fundraising events have some regional differences in popularity and the names we use for them.  One man’s white elephant is another man’s rummage (or yard or tag) sale.

Penny Socials are great fun, good for raising modest amounts from a large number of people, adds to a sense of community by bringing people together for an evening of entertainment, and folks of virtually any capacity can participate, making it wonderful for a school setting.  Here’s how they work. Read more