Thoughts on ‘Good in a Room’

When done incorrectly, networking can be a waste of time. It's costly, inefficient, and boring.

Good in a Room argues that when done correctly, it's actually none of these things. Networking is building relationships with people you care about and learning how to be confident in yourself and your ideas.

Any kind of successful relationship has to start with you wanting to care about the other person. You need to learn how to build a bond with them. This is why so many networking events fail - you're usually more interested in the other person's job title or potential as a business partner, not who they are as a human being.

Below is a summary of what I consider my main takeaways.

Most important ingredient of being good in a room – developing rapport quickly.

Secrets of rapport:

    • Likability – be empathetic and interested
    • Inspire trust
    • Find common ground – don’t fake it or feign interest
    • Stay in sync – match their pace, depth, tone; meet them where they’re at
  • Everyone is interesting

This last point sticks out to me. Sometimes it takes time to build rapport and figure out how to bond with a person, and not everyone has the patience. When you believe that everyone is interesting, you're more likely to be patient and stick around for someone who others might write off as boring. And who knows, that person probably has something unique to offer, and you could end up with a lifelong relationship.

It’s what you know – build your knowledge base so you can bond with people faster (it allows you to find common ground easier)

    • Have industry knowledge – know the history/canon, current trends (popular books, magazines)
  • Understand the buyer/person you’re talking to – know as much as you can about the people that will be in the room (their company, recent projects, their role in the company)

You’ll always have to go back to square one: ‘What do I want? What do they want? What do they expect?’

    • What do I want from the meeting - to learn, to build rapport, and to get the buyer to agree to one request (example: for them to request a follow up or a detailed proposal from you)
    • What do they want – get specific, and use what you've learned from your conversations and research of the buyer/prospect to really understand this
  • What do they expect – understand the baseline expectations (what are your competitors doing, what’s the industry standard for dressing/talking/presenting), figure out how you’re differentiated, and do your homework to exceed their expectations (examples: present in a more concise way, use new statistics, highlight what YOU do better than others)

Helpful tips: subordinate yourself to the buyer, be prepared with your materials, learn how to provide context without being patronizing (phrases such as “you probably already know this, but…” are good), offer to handle the follow-up.

HOW TO INCREASE CONFIDENCE: Create patterns of success by defining success in a useful way; how can you succeed today, rather than in 10 years? Instead of having one large goal, break it up into small goals and reward yourself for achieving them. Some quotes I liked from this section of the book:

    • “if you’re willing to die, it is easier to live” – Confucius. In other words, detach yourself from the outcome of the meeting, so that way you’ll be okay if it doesn’t go well
    • “Life is a lot bigger than the games we play to put money in the bank” (48)

HOW TO RESPOND TO ‘WHAT DO YOU DO?’ - use a 'teaser'; either mention the long term benefits of what you do or use nonspecific phrases:

    • “I help people send their kids to college”
    • “I’m like a financial midwife”
  • (Customize depending on who you’re talking to)

HOW TO RESPOND TO ‘WHERE ARE YOU FROM’ – add geographical context, or cultural context, or an interesting detail:

    • "I was raised in Memphis, just outside of Graceland"
    • "I’m from Tennessee, home of the Titans"
  • Be careful with the information you use because people will use it to make assumptions about you.
  • General rule: emphasize the benefits most likely to interest the listener.

Most important part of networking: control your introduction. The easiest way to do this is to be referred.

    • The best networks are built one person at a time. If you're hosting small dinner parties, allow people to invite +1s.
    • Good People To Know – you can find potential clients from them, new friends, interesting people, etc
    • VIPs - mentors/old coworkers
    • Inner Circle - family and friends
  • Set the bar high – not everyone will be a good fit for you, so don’t waste your time


    • Prepare the ‘portrait’ of your buyer/whoever you're meeting with – research the person/people who will be in the room (their past projects, the position in the company, interests)
    • Gather your materials – resume, notebook, tools, waiting room materials (something to read or look at during your down time: a small notebook or magazine can be good)
  • Prepare for the unexpected – do your homework and be ready with backup stories or ideas in case they ask something of you that wasn’t previously discussed


    • Ask "where would you like me to sit?"
    • Include everyone in the room
    • Be formal
    • Don't assume they know who you are
    • Don’t seem desperate, don’t give out too much information, don’t be weird
    • If you hear them take a breath – pause and say "please, go ahead"
  • Use "ours" or "we" – convey that you want to be on the team