As my professional career begins lots of exciting things do too. I’m developing new skills, taking on cool projects, and most excitingly, I’m meeting and learning from amazing people who are loaded with experience and knowledge that I’m itching to get my hands on. But meeting these titans and gurus can be just as intimidating as it is incredible, and I’m always nervous about making a good first impression.
This summer I had a lot of opportunities to fine tune the way I interact with professionals who are, quite frankly, way out of my league career-wise, and I’ve picked up a few important tips.
1. Calm Down, They’re People Too
They’re humans just like you. It can be easy to put people who have done incredible things up on a giant pedestal that makes them seem more like impressive alien life forms than another average Joe. Remember that while meeting them might be nerve wracking, they’re regular people who have problems and emotions and lives just like you. There’s no need to be scared.
2. Be Proud of Your Accomplishments
At one point they were probably in shoes similar to yours. They weren’t born uber successful titans, and they remember what it was like to just be starting out. Don’t be afraid to talk about the things you’ve been up to, even if they seem small in comparison. It’ll help them get to know you, and they might even offer you valuable advice about how to move forward with your ideas.
3. Ask Thoughtful Questions
I’ve learned that nothing impresses people more than a well crafted question. It shows that you’re aware of who they are and what they do. Proving you have valuable ideas and good critical thinking skills is impressive and beneficial no matter what industry you’re in.
4. Be Aware of How Valuable Their Time Is
Don’t put anyone in verbal handcuffs. Especially at a large event. People are looking to socialize and move around the room. Don’t monopolize someone just because you want to spend all night talking to them. If it’s a prescheduled meeting, thank them for taking the time to meet with you and acknowledge that their time is important. Don’t take them saving some of it for you lightly.
This seems silly, but it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your own head that you forget to be, well, likeable. Be friendly and kind, and be yourself. People want to spend time with people they enjoy being around, and you’re more likely to be that person if you’ve got a smile on your face.