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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Savvy Singles > Work a Room

Savvy Singles
by dating expert Tonja Evetts Weimer

How to Work a Room

Ever been to a social function and found you just couldn’t make the small talk? Do you freeze up in a room of strangers? For some singles, going somewhere new and talking to people they don’t know is the worst form of torture. But if you want to be a dating single, you have to learn how to work a room.

Working a room means that when you get to where you’re going, you look for someone interesting and move closer to see if they are wearing a ring or if they seem attached to anyone. If they appear single, you edge close enough to start a conversation. If they continue to be interesting to you, you keep talking. If they are disinterested, or even rude, you move on and start over.

Though taking this action seems simple enough, when I explain it to singles, most of them roll their eyes and groan, as if they have just been asked to eat a spider. “Oh noooo,” they wail, “I couldn’t do that!”


If you would like to be successful at dating, here are five tips that will make you an expert at working a room:

1) You can’t be rejected.
Most singles do NOT want to reach out to people because they fear rejection. If you could shift that notion of rejection, to being able to see yourself as a brave risk taker, the whole concept of “friendly” would take on another dimension.

Before you go out, try this: visualize how relaxed and happy you are going to be at the event you are about to attend. When you approach someone to talk, if they are not engaging, smile, say, “Nice meeting you,” and drift away. Don’t make a big deal of it—in your mind or in your behavior. There are other people for you to meet and you don’t want to focus your energy on what didn’t just happen, but rather, on what may soon happen. Armed with this attitude, every night is a wonderful night.

2) Brand yourself.
Every good marketing person knows that you must have a “brand” to be remembered. Before you go out, think hard about what makes you stand out from everyone else? This identification is important whether you are meeting people for the first time or you are dating on the Internet. I have coached countless people who could not initially grasp this concept. When asked to identify themselves, each one would use broad terms, not understanding that there was nothing distinctive about what they were saying.

Example: Imagine you are at a convention and you meet someone and say, “My name is John Smith, I’m from Ohio, and I’m an engineer.” If you are at a function where there are more than a handful of people, unless you are incredibly good-looking, or famously rich, or have a high squeaky voice, you will probably not be remembered. However, if you said something like, “I’m John Smith, I’m an engineer from Ohio, and I know I sound terribly ordinary, but in order to impress you, I will mention that I won the spelling bee and then fell off of the stage in my 5th grade class.”

3) Find a friendly person.
Find someone who looks more like an “Aunt Bee from Mayberry” rather than “The Big Bad Wolf.” If it seems appropriate, ask them if they know any of the people there and let them introduce you to others. Often, the best way to meet someone is through the help of a friendly person.

4) Easy on the alcohol.
Unless you are aware of being nervous, social situations can make you tense and you might be tempted to overindulge in alcohol. Eat something before you go out and keep the drinking below your average minimum so you are not in danger of embarrassing yourself.

Give yourself the SPACE to meet someone. Waiting for someone to approach you is a bad idea. First, because there is a good chance you will not be picked out of the crowd. And second, it is a bad idea to wait for someone to find you because you want to be the one who chooses your dating experience. If someone does approach you, that’s great. Make an assessment as to whether you are attracted or not, and if you are not, move away. But when no one is pursuing you, get busy!

Memorize these steps from the word SPACE:

S is for Scan the room. See if there is someone you would like to meet. If you make eye contact, smile to let them know you are interested in talking to them.

P is for Position yourself. Move to where the interesting person is. Take responsibility for meeting potential dates.

A is for Ask a question. If you want to be successful and find people to date, you have got to talk. Ask generic questions, like: Are you from here? How long have you lived here? Where is your family from? The answers to these questions should lead you to more questions and interaction. Talk. That’s how you get dates.

C is for Compliment. Find something to compliment the person about that you are talking to, if you feel attracted. You don’t have to be insincere—you need to be observant. Don’t gush. Just mention that you noticed their nice smile, or how their jacket looks good on them, or how nice it is to meet someone who is easy to talk to.

E is for Exchange contact information. Give the person a number or an email address where they can reach you and ask for their contact number.

Are you tired of sitting at home alone? Would you like to learn how to be more successful at meeting people? Lose the old tapes in your mind that say you can’t find someone to date. What you need to do is get out more and practice the above. You need to know how to work a room.

Tonja Evetts Weimer, M.A., is an award-winning author and Master Certified Single’s Coach and Personal Life Coach. Her Savvy Singles column appears every Friday in Online Dating Magazine. You can email Tonja at, visit her website a or, or call 864-294-9494.

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