A 10-Step Strategy for Making Friends With a VIP
When strategizing how to make and keep the right connections, it’s important to include VIPs (Very Important People) in your networking plan. These people become powerful allies helping you accomplish your personal and professional goals.
VIP relationships rarely happen by accident. Instead, they occur because you took the time to create and include them in a plan. Carefully consider who you want to meet and why, then take these steps to facilitate your association.
1. Learn all about the VIP.
Read everything this person has written, then search the Internet to find everything you can that has been written about him or her. Find out what the VIP has to offer that might help you grow personally or professionally.
2. Read the VIP’s recommendations.
With thorough research, this information will help you understand the VIP’s style and stance on subjects such as politics, products or environmental issues, as well as give you insights into what they enjoy doing on their time off.
3. Connect through social media.
Since so many VIPs and famous people have social media accounts, you can easily follow them through their blog, Instagram or Twitter feed. You’ll learn their interests, hobbies and what’s going on in their daily lives. Keep an eye out for when your favorite VIP might be scheduled for an upcoming appearance near you, which would make meeting them in person that much easier.
4. Check the VIP’s website regularly.
Upcoming events are generally posted on a VIP’s website, so make it a habit to visit his or her website on a monthly or quarterly basis.
5. Sign up for their newsletter.
Often more serious than social media, a newsletter is another way to become better acquainted with VIPs. Look for a business newsletter signup on their website, then register, so you can keep up with trends in their industry.
6. Get a referral introduction.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with your targeted VIP, see if you can get a referral or personal introduction. This works because someone who knows and trusts you has already vetted you, giving the VIP confidence to be more receptive to meet and do business with you.
7. Connect with the VIP on LinkedIn or Facebook.
Once you’ve established a good relationship with a VIP, issue a friend request to his or her LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. Since you’re now familiar, you are likely to get included in their circle of friends.
8. Stay in touch.
Contact your VIP periodically by email to keep your relationship active. Touch base on items of interest, or offer something you believe would be of interest or value to the VIP. A friendship will oftentimes ensue if you keep in touch.
9. Always pick up the tab.
Although the VIP may make a lot more money than you do, if you meet over a meal, you should always pay. This is especially important if you ask the VIP to meet you.
10. Don’t rush to ask favors.
Since many VIPs are inundated with requests, it’s best to wait until you’ve built a truly solid connection before asking for any favors. First, create the relationship that shows you are interested in him or her, not in what they can do for you, and you’ll have a lot more success once you do need a favor.
VIPs are busy and their time is precious. Make the effort to get to know them before you meet them, and take the time to stay in touch once you do. If you’re lucky, you will be rewarded with a rich and vibrant relationship for years to come.
Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).