ABC News anchor Dion Lim, explains how to make a lasting introduction anywhere and with anyone.
Maybe it’s a CEO. Maybe it’s a celebrity. Maybe it’s just someone you admire a lot and don’t know what to say. Approaching someone you’re slightly intimidated by at work or at a networking event isn’t always the easiest, and when you do finally muster up the courage to make that introduction, how do you make that impression a lasting one? As someone who, along with the everyday people who do extraordinary things along with interviews Fortune 500 CEOs, Oscar winners and the most decorated Olympians on the planet, trust me. They’re just like you and me but you gotta find “an in”.
This was never more apparent that one afternoon when I was set to interview a popular comedian (we’ll call her “Martina” and actress on our 4 pm newscast. For some reason, even after greeting her and her entourage in the lobby (amazing one person needs an army of people for a 3-minute segment) of the TV station with enthusiastic handshakes my most genuine of wide-mouthed toothy grins she didn’t seem to connect with me. None of my usual pre-interview warm-up chit-chat about visiting San Francisco or praising the person’s career worked. All I got back was a “nice to meet you too” and a half-hearted smile. We were cordial but not “clicking” and this would be the most boring interview ever with her one-word answers. Not to mention she’d forget about me as soon as she left the building. Where was the larger-than-life, in-your-face personality millions of people watched on TV? I was determined to make an impact and make my moment…but how?
With just 43-second left in the commercial break, I made one last-ditch effort to bond with the funny woman. After examining her poreless/lineless/baby-butt-smooth skin, I said “Woman, your makeup is on POINT! FLAWLESS!”
As if she had found the Lost Ark, Martina’s face lit up and her volume suddenly went from 6-inch indoor voices to animated and performing on stage for a crowd of 10-thousand. She began recalling the outrageous tale of forgetting her own makeup bag at home and hiring a makeup artist from Instagram. It was an absurd, gut-busting story of soliciting help from her millions of online followers and how terrified I was for her safety opening herself up like that to the world. The woman has chutzpah and just the right amount of absurdity to make her likable. At the end of the segment I even squealed “Martina, I feel like we’ve bonded!” The interview couldn’t have gone any better and both my team and her team absolutely loved it.
So how do you find your “in”?
- The Compliment: this simple act almost always elicits a response. You could be in an elevator and compliment someone on their patent leather vintage shoes and it opens up the door to the conversation of where she got them, how she keeps them looking so new after all these years and so much more. As long as the words of praise are genuine (perhaps Martina was unfazed by the ones I was doling out because she is a celebrity who gets her butt kissed all the time).
- Stating The Obvious: In the case of Martina her makeup was obviously expertly applied and I coupled that with a compliment. But on it’s own making a statement that everyone most likely agrees with or notices can be the gateway to connecting with another person. If you’re at a luncheon is the main entree rubber chicken? At a conference is the line for the bathroom extraordinarily long? Your surroundings oftentimes lead to the Note: Unless the weather is really out of the ordinary, you can do better than making a statement about the weather.
- The Slightly Forward: As an Asian American woman who is oftentimes stereotyped as “demure” or “soft-spoken” sometimes a seemingly forward statement or question can be enough to get you “in” with someone. Recently the president of a company was pleasantly taken aback when he was mulling over the choices of whether to pick a soft-drink or a glass of wine at a gala. Wanting to introduce myself and seeing him mentally calculate what to do in his head, I interjected and said something to the degree of “You’re Samuel Peterson! This is your company and if Samuel Peterson wants a malbec, he should have a one!” How memorable is that? We instantly bonded and are still in touch till this day.