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How to Work The Room 4.0: Getting "Man-Charm"

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Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in Larry Chiang’s series on “What They Don’t Teach You At Stanford Business School.” (He’s turning it into a book.) What could founders do with “Man-Charm,” you ask? Answers Larry: “Founders can use man-to-man charm to grow their good ol’ boy network because every path can be made easier if you’ve charmed a mentor to pave your way — just ask Johnny Drama.” (Yes, Entourage. Larry recommends Episode 26.) A few readers have bristled at Larry’s admitted male-focus, but take no offense ladies, it’s only because most brokers in “the power network” are still men that Larry focuses on charming them — and, we suspect, that he’s better at this anyway. Larry’s earlier posts in this series include: 9 Things Stanford B-School Won’t Teach You; 9 VCs You’re Gonna Want to Avoid; How to Work the Room; How to Work the Room 3.0: Cyber-schmoozing; Hack Your Startup Credit Rating. By the time Larry’s done here, he will have boiled
down a marquee MBA into 12-post crib sheet.

1) Territorialize but don’t Monopolize the limited resource at the
event — the fairer sex. Tease, but do not “hotbox.”

2) Be a Vacation. (I’ve used this one before, but it’s worth repeating.) Humor and a snipett of self deprecating humor go a long way in building charm. Don’t just be a pleasure to work with, be their vacation. I attended a comedy showcase Rapleaf CEO Auren Hoffman, did and it helps him be a vacation for people when he uses humor.

3) Rebrand Yourself.
I’d get nowhere in life if I were Lawrence. But goofy friendly ‘Larry’ is approachable. Larry-licous is over the top but Fergilicious is, cha-chiang!, cash money.

4) Never ask point-blank Yes/No pre-qual questions.
It shows a lack of profiling ability. Don’ts: “So are you a member?” or “Did you study at HBS?”
Dos: “Have I seen you @ similar industry events” or “Did you go to school in the boston area?”

5) DDSS.
The “DD” stands for “dumb it down.” “SS” is “sandbagging for success.” Sandbag your elevator pitch and sell. Again, incorporate humor. My rule of thumb is that I want to make the message on what I do easy enough for a multi-tasking, C-level ‘hitter’ to recite it back to me, even after he’s had 6 vodka tonics. If you can’t do this, your message stinks.

6) No broken branch friends.
Some people you know won’t or can’t introduce you. A broken branch is a person who doesn’t introduce you (ever). I stole this from my side project, where some relationships get in a year and you still don’t know who their friends are.

7) Be a Weed.
Weeds grow and foster entire impromptu communities. Friendship with you is like a gateway drug. Be the one that gets added via Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, MySpace, Ryze. (I say MySpace twice cuz its the biggest.)

8) Work the Room’s Fringes.
a) Wallflowers can be broken branches but could be an “amiable ambush”- another dude looking to charm you.

9) Anoint an Alpha Male. Better than being one, pick out a gamma male, a rising star, and make him alpha. Defer to him when the pack is trying to choose, listen when he’s on a soapbox, let him have first pick and make positive fun of his sandbagging whenever possible.

10) Run the Point.
Point guards don’t score (plus who wants to score
in a room full of dudes). Good point guards pass, meaning they set aside
their own agenda (shy, sausage-ing, turtling) and make intros.

11) Invite People to a Post Party.
Do the math. The event goes from 7pm to 9pm and they had passed apps. Translation: People are still hungry. Get your host, the VIPs and or your crew to a nearby eatery. Key tip: hosts and organizer won’t eat until 30-40 min after event ends. Or be a Larry Chiang and order Chicago Deep Dish from Patxi’s and just hand it out to keep the night going.

12) Encourage fake thinking.
Get a person to think they’re thinking and they love you. Get them to really think and they’ll hate you.
13) Pin-The-Tail-on-the-Donkey. Nothing rallies a crew of men better than an alpha of the night who IDs a donkey. A donkey is party dufus that is borderline malicious. For example, at last fall’s TechCrunch 40, a VC said to me after I ddss duck9, “How dumb, that will never work”. I pointed three fingers up in the air (entrepreneur gang symbol/ signal) and emoted daggers toward ‘donkey’. Fast forward 20 minutes and there’s a full business card stomp, circle
dance. It was native. Next week I post a Yelp review of said donkey’s VC firm and buy $3,000 of inbound links. Sha-zam! Google search result #3 for firm name is my yelp poke in the eye. Donkey-ify for fun and community building.

29 Responses to “How to Work The Room 4.0: Getting "Man-Charm"”

  1. School of Life

    I understood this post perfectly and think it’s very insightful. Sales skills are fundamental to many jobs, including being a CEO.

  2. Brilliant analysis of the networking pool, us “tech-men” live in and must navigate to succeed. When 90% of the people at these events are men, we must take all of your advice to heart and utilize the best strategy for each specific situation (we find ourselves in).

    Humor, weeds, alpha-males and post-parties – ain’t no party like a Larry Chiang party. Holler.

  3. Philipp Schumann

    This must be meta-irony, or its sickeningly saddening.

    Why would I want to be a tech founder?

    Many reasons, but among them chiefly: to avoid, escape and roar past everything that in order to function depends on “gangs”, secret codes, circles, schmoozing, “rooms” to be “worked” etc. Founders are people with brains. If they needed, wanted or preferred this kind of stuff, they would take their brain and work in finance, politics or consulting, where there’s enough idiots around for those games. Only exception: tech bubbles where gold diggers and VCs dominate the scene, rather than rock-solid growth-and-value-creating (rather than mega-hyped) technology (rather than web designs).

    “You really think the Manageing Partner of PWC wants to sit through another drab board-room meeting about why your company’s CRM will revolutionise his office? f*ck no – he wants to slurp grange till 2:00am with a supplier / client who sprouts a bit of personality….”

    Where’s the personality in this? Sounds like the next thing we’d do is hang out at a strip club. Not my taste and I won’t do business with such a glorified Joe Trucker in-a-suit. What do I need someone without brains for?

    There is always a better strategy than schmoozing: Be one whom people want to schmooze, then work with those who don’t do it.

  4. I’m sorry, did you say you spent $3000 e-stalking a VC that didn’t like your idea?! That’s f’n funny. But funny in a lunatic-in-the-corner-talking-to-himself kinda way.

    woop-woop! the internal alarm bells are ringing.

  5. I thought it was pissfunny…Entreprenure Gang Symbol… hahaha.

    I think a few people totally missed the point here – he probably was drunk when he posted this. All the more reason he’d be a top bloke to do business with… the whole ‘vacation’ thing.

    You really think the Manageing Partner of PWC wants to sit through another drab board-room meeting about why your company’s CRM will revolutionise his office? f*ck no – he wants to slurp grange till 2:00am with a supplier / client who sprouts a bit of personality….

    To him go the spoils.

  6. I am lost.

    But, Larry just pointed something out to me. When I attempt numbers 1 thru 13 I actually spew a mixture of 1 thru 4.
    Not good at the man charm…or woman charm for that matter. Dogs like me though.

  7. My first reaction while reading this post was “whoa, I’m really out of it, how old is this guy Larry?”, but by the time I was done reading my thought changed to “he must have been drunk.”…I wanna like this post, I just don’t get it…

  8. Question: What happens when you mix
    (1) an engineer
    (2) attempts at visual story-telling
    (3) boiled down disorganized ideas
    (4) sprinkles of inside jokes without proper comedic set-up

    … that’s right! A jumbled Larry Chiang post.

    I just read
    and took Tim’s book recommendation
    On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction (On Writing Well) Tracking number: 9102049390094523173371

    My goal is that by my next post, I’ll make it easier on Carleen to translate and for fellow founders to decipher