We all have people that we look at and say to our internal selves “wow, they are so much cooler than I am.” This happens to me a lot at rock concerts, yoga classes and professional conferences.
I spent ten days at SXSW listening to very interesting people speak and sitting back in my seat overwhelmed with anxiety over the thought of walking up to them and introducing myself.
I’ve never been good at networking because I don’t like talking about myself and I really don’t like asking other people for things – even if it’s tiny like their business card or more major like their help.
My therapist says….ah, who am I kidding….I stopped going to my therapist months ago when she told me I had some pretty big “things” to work on - one of which was my missing ability to talk about myself to other human beings.
But I’m sure Linda would have told me that in these types of situations, I first need to remind myself that nobody is cooler than anybody else. We are all human beings with struggles, moments of blah-ness, and fears of our own.
I never would have listened to Linda so In order to figure out how to talk to someone who I think is cooler than I am, I had to figure it out myself. Here are my tips:
1. Throw Yourself Into Them
It’s probably a bit too savage to do, but if you’re super nervous about saying hello to someone, and you’re close by, pretend to bump into them.
Ps. I really don’t recommend this. They could get hurt. You could get hurt. You could spill coffee. Knock off glasses. Give them a bruise. So avoid tip #1 for best results.
2. Remind Them Who You Are
One of the main reasons I’m often scared of saying hello to someone i’ve crossed paths with before is that i’m scared they won’t recognize. Maybe last time I saw them, it was in a dark club with minimal lighting so they won’t remember the defined outline of my facial features, or we’re Facebook friends and perhaps I don’t look a thing like the photos I post – because they were taken on a “good”day and today is not one of those.
In this case, lead with who you are when you say hello. Hey! I’m Jen Glantz from Bridesmaid for Hire. We met _____.
That way, there’s no awkward 10 second threshold where both of you are looking at each other confused.
3. Start With a Compliment
If you don’t know the person but you want to say hello, start out with a compliment. Let them know something about them you genuinely admire. “Your talk was incredible…” “I really love the article you recently wrote…”
This is a way smoother way to meet somebody without accidentally word vomiting on them, asking them for help or asking them a question without at least first taking the time to build rapport with them first.
4. Just Do It & Be a Mess
Don’t follow any tips except for this one: Just do it…and maybe be a mess at it. Don’t plan in your head what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Don’t waste time giving yourself a pep talk in the bathroom. Just walk up to the person and say hello. If they look at you like your crazy – good job. At least they know your name now.
5. Oh, Realize They Are Not Cooler Than You
Linda, I know you’re right okay? Nobody in this world is cooler than anybody. Not even Kylie Kardashian. I bet she’s as big of a dork as anyone else – she just knows how to use Snapchat filters and a ton of other social media hacks to disguise it.