you like to meet people who could help your career or personal life?
You have a great opportunity to meet such people whenever you attend
a workshop, a performance, whatever. Here's how to make the most
Show up 15 to 30 minutes before the event starts and
hang out where other early-comers are congregating. Then, use your
intuition to pick out two or three people you sense you'd like to
If your target person is alone, slowly approach,
trying to establish eye contact. When you're a couple of feet away,
just say, "Hi, I'm (insert your name)." If the person
doesn't start a conversation, say something very brief. For example,
at an accountant's convention, say something like "I'm a forensic
Don't tell your woes early on,
if at all. If the conversation stalls, ask something like, "Do
you know much about the workshop leader?" Look for the right
moment to ask what you want to ask. For example, "I've just
set up a Sarbanes-Oxley reporting system for the Ace Widget Company
and am looking for a new project. Any ideas?" Note: In that
example, the person didn't explicitly ask for a job. That's too
If you sense you don't want to spend the rest of the
event with that person, stick your hand out and say something like,
"It was good talking with you." If you like the person
but want to meet others, say something like, "I enjoyed talking
with you. May I have your card?" Offer yours.
If your target person is conversing with someone else,
stand a few feet away, but in his line of sight. Every five or 10
seconds, try to establish eye contact. You might be lucky and be
quickly signaled to join the conversation. If not, listen in. If
you have something to add or ask, establish eye contact and look
for a sign that it's OK for you to speak. When it feels right, introduce
yourself as above.
If one of your targets is at the refreshment table,
head there and start a conversation as above, or perhaps commenting
about the refreshments.
The event is about to begin. Now what? If you're talking
with a promising prospect, ask if she'd like to sit with you. If
the people you've spoken with aren't promising leads, try to sit
next to a prospect you haven't yet talked with. During the event,
there may be opportunities to connect: for example, whispers during
the presentation or a chat during a workshop's group activity.
When the event ends, use the same procedure to meet
people as you used before the event.
If you'd like to talk with the speaker, be the last
person to do so. That way, you may get more time and even the opportunity
to walk out with him. Start with something like, "I really
liked your talk, especially (insert a specific)." Ask a question
you predict he'll be interested in answering. Often, in the conversation,
the speaker will ask about you. At that point, you might say what
you're looking for. For example, "I'm rather an expert on real-time
PCR and am looking for an interesting project to work on next. Any
As soon as you get home, write a follow-up note, perhaps
an e-mail, perhaps handwritten, to any people you want to stay in
touch with. Example: "Dear Sandy, You and I met at the China
conference. You said you were interested in power plant financing,
so I thought you might like to see this article. And thanks for
offering to pass my name along to the right person at the power
plant company. Best, Pat Pleaser."
Later, consider contacting the person(s) again. For example, invite
him into your linkedin.com online networking group. Or send an appropriate
book -- it's inexpensive, yet memorable. I use Amazon.com because
it's so convenient, the selection is huge and its prices are great.
That's probably also a good time to ask again for what you want.
Take the risk of approaching strangers. Worst that
can happen is that you sound stupid. Even if you do, you'll survive.
More likely, you'll gain something and have fun.