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Working The Room Is Like Being Barbara Walters

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flickr: Matt McGee

Working the room at a networking event is like being Barbara Walters, says reporter Jennifer Nycz-Conner of the Washington Business Journal.

How?

For one thing, when you’re networking, you’re always in soft-focus filter…okay, fine, fine.

Networking events are a good time to have an arsenal of good, generic questions prepared that you could ask of anyone in the room. Just like Walters, apparently, knows that no matter who she interviews, she can ask “What’s the biggest misconception about you?” and get a good response.

Here are a few questions that could apply to almost anybody you bump into at a cocktail party (like the one mediabistro.com’s sponsoring in LA tonight) or happy hour:

  • What are your competitors doing well/missing?
  • What’s the next big thing in your industry?
  • Who do you most admire in your business?
  • What’s keeping you up at night when it comes to your company?
  • What’s surprised you most about your company/career in recent years?
  • What’s the best part of your job?
  • What would you do differently if you had to start over in your field?

We’d add a couple more real easy softballs—like “How did you get into this job/industry/company?” But the point remains: if you keep a couple of these in the back of your mind, you’ll never be at a loss for conversation.

And there’s always the weather and “How ’bout them Yankees?”

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