Thursday, December 19, 2019
How to Approach Someone Important - The Muse
How to Approach Someone Important - The MuseHow to Approach Someone ImportantYoure sitting in a cafe minding your own business, when suddenly you notice that the rolle youve wanted to have as a mentor or boss is sitting at a nearby table. This could be your big moment to make a good impression, or you could totally fall flat on your face in awkwardness. So what do you do?This scenario was a question that a reader in New York emailed me. And if youve had moments like this, too, you have three options. Two of them are ones that youre probably already weighing. The third is a bit unexpected- but could put you much closer to a seat at that table in the future.1. Do NothingLets get this out of the way now. Yes, doing nothing is an option. But if youre really serious about your career, its a terrible option. Dont waste chances.Of course, if youre not feeling up to it (because of nerves, not feeling that youre dressed appropriately, or some other reason), thats understandable. It might not be the right time for your target, either, especially if there are any cues in the persons demeanor that show intense focus or discomfort. But dont let the opportunity pass you by. Also dont send an email saying I saw you earlier and didnt say anything, because thats creepy. Just proceed to option 3. 2. ApproachIf the person is not engaged in a conversation or looking visibly upset, wait for an idle moment, then step up and try this scriptHi use the formal Mr./Ms. and the persons last name. Do you have a moment? If the answer is no, say thank you and move on. If the answer is yes, continue.I just wanted to come over and introduce myself. My name is your name and Ive really enjoyed your work, especially something recently in the news. Im a bit about you and your background, and if you ever have some time, Id love to hear more about your work and career path.What Im recommending here is an approach grounded in flattery, brevity, and respect for others time. You dont want to immediatel y go into pitch mode and risk sounding like youre selling used cars. An informational interview is low-intensity for both parties and, as long as youre prepared, can get you started on developing a meaningful connection.Of course, this person can respond to your approach by rejecting you (hopefully politely like, No, thank you or Im not interested). You could also get the green light that youre looking for and walk away with another opportunity Take the chance.3. The PretzelNo, this is not some seductive dance step. Its a tactic I learned at my company, Bureau Blank, about taking a roundabout path with networking. Rather than engaging the target person directly, hop over to LinkedIn and see if one or more people in your network are more closely connected to him or her. If so? Reach out and ask for an introduction or endorsement.I received a pretzel (if I can put it that way) recently when a grad school colleague contacted me on behalf of a person who is interested in learning more a bout Bureau Blank. He spoke highly of her background and said these key words I think youll be impressed by her. Who in your network can say that about you? Identify them and ask for the favor because youll get much closer to the opportunity. Think of it this way You could write a letter to President Obama yourself, but if you could get someone in the Cabinet to endorse you, why wouldnt you?The key to all of these options is thinking first, then acting with judgment. Think about what will make connecting with you a meaningful effort for the person you want to meet. Once you know, be bold and step up. Chances dont come around twice, so have a plan and be ready for whatever comes. Like my parents have told me for years, if you dont ask, the answer is always no.Photo of man waving courtesy of Shutterstock.