One thing I’ve learned that I want to pass on to you is this: people are people. I got that quote first from Steve Garfield, while sitting at his kitchen table talking about all the crazy times I’d had meeting Internet celebrities. No, he wasn’t quoting Depeche Mode. He was saying that I shouldn’t get all nervous about meeting folks that I thought were these amazing, out-of-my-league rockstars. I took that to heart, and so based on some things I read from my last post and via some other people’s blogs, I thought I’d share this with you, in case you need the advice.
Note: I don’t consider myself any kind of Internet celebrity. I think of myself as someone you likely know because of Twitter or my blog or because you’ve heard of PodCamp. I’m writing this from the perspective of when I meet people I think of as big names.
Some Likely Truths
- At an event, if you see someone you think of as famous (especially if we’re talking Internet famous), they are more than likely approachable.
- More often than not, people who look snobbish at events are usually not. Often times, they’re actually shy.
- Most of these people feel a little intimidated by crowds, too.
- When people are in a circle, it’s rarely hard to get into that circle, especially if you go with the flow, and have something equally fun to say.
- Everyone should be presumed busy at big events, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want you to say hi.
- If you are friendly, have a quick intro, and know how to smile, you’ll likely put someone at ease.
- If someone IS a jerk to you, smile politely, and move on. No need to confront. Just write them off for this event, and decide later (not at the meeting) whether they had something on their mind, or whether they’re just probably a jerk.
- Know that you’re just as important as everyone else there. You might be lesser known, but you’re just as important.
Things To Avoid
- Don’t quote people their lines as an opener. I see people do this to the Ask A Ninja guys a lot. They know their lines are funny. Tell them that you like their stuff, and/or cite an episode. (My take, not theirs).
- Don’t scare girls. If you’re in the presence of a female celebrity, try not to be creepy. It might not be your intent, but do your best to DOUBLY not be creepy. Treat her like you would a guy, and be polite, no matter what their onscreen persona might be.
- Know when to scram. Lots of folks are really happy to engage you for a little while, but they probably have other things on their plate too. Know when to hit the road.
- Don’t pitch rich dudes. Just because they’re out in public doesn’t mean they’re eager to be pitched. Here’s a hint: they get pitched ALL the time. Instead, if you really badly want their time for your new amazing startup, be very cordial, introduce yourself, tell them you’d love to make a meeting at some point during the event, or thereafter, and give them a card. Very smooth.
People In General
- Preserve distance between bodies. People like a little space, and they never like to feel cut off from potential exits. Don’t go nuts worrying about this, but if someone looks edgy, check your body spacing and/or the other person’s ability to bolt.
- Respect shy people. If someone is really shy, be gentle in your approach. Lower your voice a bit. Don’t ask any probing questions.
- People love to talk about themselves. Want to leave a great impression? Ask someone about them instead of prattling on about yourself.
- Have something simple to say about yourself. If the conversation turns back around, make sure you’ve got something simple and easy to say (an elevator pitch for what you’re into).
- If YOU are shy, feel free to sidle up to someone you know, or at least think you know, and use them for about 10 minutes of comfort. THEN, move on and find someone new. It’ll feel more safe.
Your mileage may vary on the above, and I’m counting on folks who come here to give us even more suggestions. But my hope was to give you some ideas for dealing with what comes up at events where we meet folks we might only know from online.
What’s YOUR take? What’s your advice? How do you like to be approached, and how have you gotten into meeting people at these things? What’s your tips and ideas? Let’s help each other out.
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photo credit, cc chapman