Many wealthy people are active in their communities. They attend events and meet people all the time.
So when it’s your turn to shake their hands, how do you make a good enough impression so they want to get to know you better? Be interesting. Here’s how.
1. Take an interest
If you are at a museum and ask someone, “What’s your favorite painting in the exhibition?” she will be more likely to talk to you than if you offered your opinion first.
Do: Ask people questions about their family, occupation, recreation interests and dreams. (FORD), says Lifehacker. Most people like talking about themselves.
Don’t: Meet a person and tell how important you are. That’s a turnoff.
2. Have depth
High-profile people meet lots of people but truly connect with few. To up your chances, initiate a smart, topical discussion. Share your knowledge of world events. If she’s a senior executive at a public company, discuss her industry or business. If discussing her firm, stick to the positives. It’s likely you both read serious business like The Economist – ask if she’s read the latest issue and her opinion on the cover story. Relate your position on topics to how the issue impacts your local community.
Do: Be intellectually interesting. Know a bit about them ahead of time. It’s flattering. Ask intelligent questions about their industries or professions. Draw them out.
Don’t: Ignore world events or agree to everything they say. But don’t be a know-it-all, either – consider their arguments thoughtfully. Give the prospect equal or greater air time during the conversation.
3. Talk about experiences
Successful people are involved in the community and are usually well-travelled. They live complete lives. So, be able to tell a good story. Consider transitioning the conversation to involvement in the community and mention a couple of organizations or projects you’ve helped out with.
Do: Find common ground and align your local involvement with theirs.
Don’t: Ramble or tell long stories. Avoid stories where you need to know the people mentioned.
4. Use tact
You’ve just met this person and you know little about her private life, regardless of the research you’ve done on her public persona. You don’t know her politics or position on controversial issues. Engaging in those conversations is high risk.
Do: Stick to safe subjects. Attending a fundraiser? Discuss the good work done by the organization. Does the event have an honoree? Discuss his contribution to the community. At the local symphony? Praise the skill of the musicians. When discussing topical issues, support your opinion with facts.
Don’t: Bring up sensitive subjects and focus on one issue or opinion.
Additional hints: Humor is important. You shouldn’t tell jokes, but you can share stories about the funny things that happened during your day. A little self-depreciating humor breaks the ice and shows you are a regular person. You’ll also want to understand local issues. People involved in the community are familiar with pending legislation, construction projects and tax issues. Be comfortable with those subjects.