The first step is saying hello. If you can say it in an original and interesting way, that’s great. If you can’t, just saying, “hello” is a very acceptable beginning, unless you are also doing something strange, like not wearing pants. If you’re the nervous type already, I don’t recommend this. In fact, I don’t really recommend this for anyone.
Second, try to find a common interest. I like to ask people what they do. Generally, this is pretty interesting, and if you’re lucky, you’ll stumble upon the reason why they do what they do, which may lead to finding out their genuine interests. This is my favorite part – listening to someone talk about his or her passion is fascinating. If you are interested as well, you’ve found your common ground. If you don’t know anything about it, you get to learn something new, and probably useful.
Third, be helpful. If you can connect two people whose businesses would benefit from the interaction, do so. If you can pass on advice about your field, or take the time to answer someone’s questions, try it. Sometimes people just want your opinion. Or, maybe your trash is their treasure, and you can pass something on that you’re no longer using. Something that has been emphasized across all of the blogs that I read regularly is the idea that you should try to contribute where you can offer value.
Fourth, follow up after your conversation. Don’t be a stalker, but do take the time to send out an email (or another form of contact) to the people whom you really connected with, and if you met at an event, don’t forget to thank the hosts for putting on the event, or to let them know that you appreciate the people they’ve helped you to meet. This goes for online interactions as well.
On that note, tonight I went to Buildguild, the first of a monthly meeting for web geeks in the Salem, MA area. Marc Amos & Angelo Simeoni organized and hosted the event, and I met some neat people with a variety of skills and interests. For anyone who attended, if I didn’t get a chance to speak with you, please feel free to get in touch. Marc and Angelo, thank you. You guys did a great job and there was a fantastic turnout.
To Jim, the guy in the Threadless T – I remembered, the design I wanted to submit was just text. The front would say, “Soylent Green is People” and the back would say, “People Are Delicious.” but I wasn’t sure if I had read that somewhere, or if it was an original (albeit disturbed) thought from my own mind.