Merriam-Wester defines “schmoozing” as:
to chat in a friendly and persuasive manner especially so as to gain favor, business, or connections
It is this skill that has helped me achieve most every success I’ve had in the music business. It’s a skill I learned during my years in the radio, and one that sets me apart from many of the other musicians I meet. The ability to be comfortable, dare I say charming, when making small talk is a huge bonus.
But the most important thing I’ve learned about schmoozing is that it must be genuine. There are those who come off all smarmy and manipulative when trying to schmooze, and those people actually turn others away. This is why schmoozing gets a bad rap. I happen to like schmoozing, and think of it more as a social skill than a business skill. I love talking to people. I’ll talk about anything: music, the weather, politics, basketball, whatever. And, by talk what I really mean is listen. As Guy Kawasaki says,
Ask good questions, then shut up. The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozers are good listeners, not good talkers.
Be personable, funny and genuinely interested in listening to what people have to say and you will build solid relationship fast. Isn’t that what business is all about?
Check out Kawasaki’s full blog post on The Art of Schmoozing for a great introduction to the practice.
I mention all of this because today my business partner Josh and I are headed to JM Cellars for their Spring Tasting. We are going with a wedding planner we know and are trying to partner with. She is very industrious and has developed a nice side business doing wine and food events. This is just the kind of event we want to get our business involved with, so we’re going to schmooze our way in! It’s a beautiful spring day here in Seattle…I can’t think of a better way to spend it than at a wine tasting, hob-nobbing it with the upper crust! I’ll let you know how it goes.