If you were walking down the street one day and Spider-Man happened to swing down beside you, chances are, all of your own suave, spidey senses would be swatted right down the drain. At best, you might manage to sneak a selfie while making a plea to the Marvel gods not to be strung upside down off of the Brooklyn Bridge, and at worst, your ability to conduct practical communication could go right out the window, leaving you in a puddle of blubbering fangirl bliss.
Of course, superheroes aren’t the only celebrities capable of turning their fans to mush. If you’ve ever been the low man on the totem pole, only to walk into the elevator one day to find yourself sharing a ride with the company CEO, you know how easy it is to suddenly find yourself devoid of all intelligent thought. As if by magic, you’re left with sweaty palms, a shortness of breath, and no other conversation starter but, “Do you like string cheese?” And as you reach your destination and your time together ends, you think, “How did I miss such a fantastic opportunity to be noticed by one of the elite?”
Mastering this reflexive urge to empty your skull and actually make a connection is a necessary skill for those looking to take their businesses to the top. After all, you are who you hang out with, right? If you want your clients to think of you as a celebrity, you must make friends with celebrities. Furthermore, how are you supposed to impress a particularly impressive client or your boss if you can’t act like a normal human being in his or her presence?
So how does one come across as an intelligent, witty, companionable, and infectious person to a celebrity, and leave having instilled a memorable and positive first impression?
First, you must convince yourself that your encounter is actually quite ordinary and that the person with whom you are conversing actually has very little power and prestige (you could go the opposite route and pretend as if you too are very important, but that could end up like an awkward I Love Lucy moment). Rather, keep calm and simply act like you belong without putting on airs that you’re someone you’re not. Suppress your instinct to be fidgety or uncomfortable and pretend that there’s nothing out of the ordinary. Convince yourself that celebrities talk to you all the time. Or they would, anyway, if they knew how cool you were. If you embody the persona of belonging, you won’t be labeled as an outsider.
One way to do this is to not smile as easily as you’re tempted to. Smile slower and do so only if the other person is also smiling. The trick is to look at the person, pause and take in their personality, then let the smile explode on your face, so that the reaction looks more sincere and thoughtful. Smiling too quickly may make you appear over-eager.
The second step is to provide value rather than taking it. Celebrities are used to everyone wanting a piece of them, whether it’s money, status, connections, power, or advice. As a result, they surround themselves with those who ask for nothing in return. Before you meet someone of high standing, reflect on why you want to know them. Is it all for your own benefit, or does part of your desire stem from a real and authentic want to have that person in your life? If those sincere feelings exist, let them come through and let the “celebrity friend status” come as a natural result. Furthermore, when getting to know a celebrity, offer them something of value like a recommendation for a great restaurant or a good movie or book. This will create a more human connection.
Finally, before you go into any opportunity where you might meet one of the “big names,” do your research. Be that creepy stalker on their LinkedIn profile. Look at their Facebook feed. What are that person’s likes and dislikes? What do you have in common? If you notice any recent changes, there may be availability for outreach. Knowing all that stuff won’t just give to a positive direction for any future conversations—it will make you feel more confident and keep you from making stupid mistakes (like asking the CEO if he likes string cheese when he’s actually lactose intolerant).
In summary, no one likes a fangirl, so keep it calm and controlled and you’ll be chilling in the penthouse in no time.