During the writing phase of my career, I piked up a few life-lessons that I’ve used often when trying to meet and break the ice with “big wigs”. It can be boiled down to, “Bait and Hook”.

I learned, early on, that the “BAIT” is as important as the “Hook” when I tried to interview two Masters of a certain martial arts system for an international martial arts magazine.  Upon my arrival and introduction the atmosphere became very tense. Though I had set up the interview weeks in advance and thought I had had their cooperation, I was met with everything but their cooperation, until one of them asked me to demonstrate a martial arts form.

From that moment on, I considered it important to show something of importance as a demonstration of interest, sincerity, and knowledge. I call this the “Bait”.

Then came the question, “Why should we talk to you?”

There it was.

There’s the question EVERYONE has in the back of their minds when meeting anyone at any moment in time. In the selling profession, sales people are trained to carefully handle this question for it can make or break a selling opportunity. But it also has its place in daily approaches and conversations.

It’s that WIIFM-question, where WIIFM is the acronym for What’s In It For Me? But that’s not the full extend of the question. There’s something more.

Even if you answer the WIIFM question it may not be sufficient to trigger the cooperation of the person you wish to speak with. That’s because, not only is your person of interest wanting to know the answer to WIIFM, but that person will also want to know “WHY NOW?“.

Preparation may be your key to meeting anyone, from C.E.O.s to function organizers.

If you know ahead of time who may be at the event, then do some homework prior to the event. Either look up some information or talk with someone who knows that person. Search for possible “bait” and “hooks”. Why should they talk to you? What’s in it for them to do so?  And, just as important, why talk to you now, at this event?

If you did prepare ahead of time, yet there’s a new face that you want to meet, maybe one C.E.O brings along another not on the guest list, then you may still be able to round up useful information.

Today, we/you have a blessing at hand…literally.

You can use your handheld to instantly look up interesting information about the person you wish to approach.

What if this is the first time you left your handheld at home and are handheld-less? What do you do?

Observe. Look around. Is there something about the environment, the event, the purpose of the event, some actions taking place, other notables, anything or anyone, which you can reference to start a conversation with your “target”?  Or maybe that person just finished speaking and made a particularly memorable or noteworthy comment that you can use?

To approach even the most unapproachable people, BAIT YOUR HOOK then cast your line. You’ll be quite surprised at how approachable are even the most unapproachable-appearing people.

Happy fishing!