people talking at party Youcan learn a lot just by watching. Are they in the mood or just inthe room? Are they here because their spouse dragged them? (Photo:Shutterstock)

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“What do I do next?”  You are at an event where you seea person you recognize.  You’ve never met them, but theylook just like their photo on the business pages of the paper ortheir annual report.  This is a once-in-a-lifetimeopportunity. You tell yourself “I’ve got to meet thisguy!”  How do you do it?

Social comes first

First of all, forget business. If you enter pitching, you mightsuffer the same fate you assign to those recorded calls you getsaying:  “There’s a problem with your computer…” At this moment, you are a normal person, they are a normal personand some shared interest put you under the same roof.  Isit a wedding?  College alumni event?  Homeowner’sassociation meeting?

Look before you leap

You can learn a lot just by watching.  Are they in themood or just in the room?  Are they here because they haveto be here?  Their spouse dragged them?  Theyreally want to be at a sports bar watching the game?  Youcan spot the body language pretty easily.  If they are ina foul mood, they probably won’t be receptive unless you say: “Wantto get out of here and watch the game?”

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How are they dressed?  If everyone is in suits andthey’re in a black tee shirt and jeans, they may not be concernedabout fitting in.  They play by their own rules. If everyone is in polo shirts and chinos and they look like theyjust stepped off their yacht, they may be formal, consideringclothing like a suit of armor.  Either way, they may looklike the odd one out.

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Who are they talking to?  Are they making the rounds,acting as host, thanking people for coming?  Meeting themwon’t be tough.  Are they standing off on the side with afew other people talking in hushed tones?  It could be alegal problem they are addressing.  You don’t interruptthat conversation.

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How long do they spend in conversation?  That hushedconversation would be better if held in a conferenceroom.  But if they are in a group setting laughing, theycould be enjoying the punchline of a joke.  If people arejoining in and breaking away every few minutes, it’s low key.

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What is their overall behavior?  Are theycomfortable?  Do you get the feeling they know everyone orvery few people?  If it’s the latter, you might take itupon yourself to make them feel welcome.

3 ways to meet a stranger

OK, enough observation. It’s time to meet them.  Hereare three ways forward:

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1. Get an introduction.  Lookaround.  Find someone you know that connected. Ask if they know that person.  If so, would they introduceyou?  They will likely walk you over, wait for a pause inconversation and make the connection.  People good at thissay: “You both have a lot in common” as they name a few sharedinterests.  You are off to the races.

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2. Friends in common.  The perfectperson to make the introduction isn’t there.  Noproblem.  Pretend they are, at least in spirit. Walk over solo, wait for the right moment and say:  “Ithink we have a friend in common.”  They will wonderwho.  You supply a name.  They ask how you knowthem.  After answering, you ask about theirconnection.  The conversation is started.

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3. The compliment.  Often, the firsttwo aren’t options because the person is a totalstranger.  If they sponsored the event, thank them,mentioning a few high points.  If they are a seniorexecutive, mention something their company recently did. (Which youquickly researched on your smartphone.)  It might beearnings that were just announced.  They may not know you,but it’s difficult to be offended by a compliment.

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By now, you have noticed you are different from the stereotypeof your profession.  You looked before youleaped.  You were polite and gracious.  Ifbusiness comes up, it’s because they started askingquestions.  You have taken a sincere interest, as you lookfor common interests.

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Bryce Sanders is president of PerceptiveBusiness Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition trainingfor the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” can be foundon Amazon.

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READ MORE:

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Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders, president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc., has provided training for the financial services industry on high-net-worth client acquisition since 2001. He trains financial professionals on how to identify prospects within the wealthiest 2%-5% of their market, where to meet and socialize with them, how to talk with wealthy people and develop personal relationships, and how to transform wealthy friends into clients. Bryce spent 14 years with a major financial services firm as a successful financial advisor, two years as a district sales manager and four years as a home office manager. He developed personal relationships within the HNW community through his past involvement as a Trustee of the James A. Michener Art Museum, Board of Associates for the Bucks County Chapter of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Board of Trustees for Stevens Institute of Technology and as a church lector. Bryce has been published in American City Business Journals, Barrons, InsuranceNewsNet, BenefitsPro, The Register, MDRT Round the Table, MDRT Blog, accountingweb.com, Advisorpedia and Horsesmouth.com. In Canada, his articles have appeared in Wealth Professional. He is the author of the book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor.”