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Sound Business Practices

Perfect Schmoozing to Build Business

By Sandy Hershelman

Schmoozing has gotten a bad rap. Some nasty salesmen, politicians and con men—and politician con men—have turned an impressive social skill into a four-letter word: LIAR. They'll say anything to get what they want.

I'm here to stand up for all of us schmoozers, who don't belong to the Liars' Clan.

I schmooze to make you feel special. There's nothing phony about my interest in you. I truly care about what you're doing, how your kids are, and that your cat had kittens. And, when I ask, "May I help you?" I mean it. You really do matter to me. I want to see you succeed. I want you to smile.

Does this help me in my own aspirations? Absolutely. But that's not my purpose in life. I schmooze people I'll never see again. I'll compliment a stranger's shoes, call the hotel maid by name, and tip the waiter at 20%—and not just because the math is easier.

At its core, schmoozing is all about personalizing relationships that might otherwise remain distant. Even though I may never see that person again, I put a smile on his face. Locally, a lot of wait staff know me by name, and they even know what I normally order. Pay attention to others and they'll pay attention to you.

Networking, marketing, public relations, sales. . .each has schmoozing at its base. It's one-on-one relationship building. Schmoozers are givers, not takers. Do you think I bring sunscreen to the golf tournament I host to "get something" from the players? No, I care—and I don't want them to fry in the sun.

My financial advisor sent me the book she was reading. It made her think of me. Was she schmoozing? Of course she was—and in the best way possible. She truly cares. I have no doubt about it.

All of that personalized foo-foo that you give away (and call advertising) is a form of schmoozing. And do you really think giving out dog biscuits at the bank is going to make Fluffy's owner open an account? Probably not, but it sure makes the teller and the non-customer feel good. That's the power of schmoozing. It's a warm fuzzy feeling inside for both the giver and the receiver.

Watching my friend Barb schmooze the vendors on the beaches of Mexico was a wonder to behold. Her genuine interest in their handiwork and families broke the language barrier. She truly cared and they knew it. I have a hunch they probably would have given her the stuff she bought, paying them well.

Granted, schmoozers are typically extroverts who love to talk. These masters of small talk are usually charming and enthusiastic. Not all people are born schmoozers, but if your employees realize that excellent customer service is their top priority, they're halfway up the schmoozers' ladder.

Schmoozing someone you can't stand really deserves to be called something else. (B.S. comes to mind.) Even so, those finely tuned skills have gotten me through sessions with Ms. Nasty with only minor headaches.

Never underestimate the power of a 2,000-megawatt smile. It can cause even the biggest grouch to smile back.

Find a schmoozing style that suits your personality. For me, it's the super-friendly question asker. It's a style that's always served me well, especially in my years as a journalist.

Schmoozing allows me to shift my optimism into overdrive. I truly believe that schmoozers enjoy their lives more.

Yes, I am a schmoozer—and proud of it! I'm not schmoozing to close deals; I'm building relationships. I really do love people. I care about their well-being. For me, schmoozing is not a means to an end. It's a way of life. It's just who I am.

More business management articles. . .

© 2006 Sandy Hershelman. All rights reserved.


Date Last Modified:10/29/06
Copyright © 1999-2006 Sandy Hershelman. All rights reserved.