It can be very daunting approaching someone that you look up to, usually I turn into a complete fangirl on the inside and have to fight to keep my exterior composed. Networking in itself is an extremely valuable tool for both your business and social life. However, it is different when you really want to talk to someone you admire and strive to emulate – what if they aren’t as great as you think they are, what if they don’t want to talk to you? If approached correctly all will go well.
It’s important to remember it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and if you know more people then you will automatically have access to benefits and your fangirl approach could turn into a long-term business relationship.
Here are a few tips on how to approach someone you look up to
Choose your medium
Face to face is obviously the best way to approach someone you look up to, it says you are confident in yourself to be able to approach them directly, however, this can be impossible due to location or it may be something you are not comfortable doing. You can then use the plethora of social channels to communicate with them, email or LinkedIn is more ‘official’ but that person probably receives multiple communications a day, so standing out is hard. Whichever channel you use, make sure you have someone proofread what you have said, you want to capture your unique tone but also catch their eye so they actually read what you have written.
Ever tried networking through Instagram?
Many introverted professionals think they have to act like an extrovert in networking situations. While you do have to make an effort to be more outgoing than you usually are, don’t go too far, you won’t come across as genuine and people will notice that you’re faking it. Be yourself from the very beginning, successful people learn how to spot a fake and if you are sincere then there should be no problems.
Ask for an Introduction
Using your existing network to make new connections can make the process less painful. You will have a friend in common you can talk about if need are and your mutual connection will be able to give you topics to talk about before-hand. No matter how tenuous the link, an introduction is a far less terrifying option than going in cold and you have someone there to support you at the same time.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
You have to put the fear of rejection to the side, rejection is something that is common within networking, people are busy and to them, you might not be the right connection. That’s okay, and so you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it afterward or relive the awkward conversation; reflect on what happened and learn from it for next time. The most competent networkers get rejected occasionally or the person you want to speak to just isn’t in the mood on that occasion, see if you can pick up the conversation another time.
Let me know if you have any recommendations on how you have approached the people you look up to in the comments below.