How to Approach Anybody, Anytime without Losing your Guts!

6:24 AM Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu 5 Comments

If you’re like me, you probably hate introducing yourself to a total stranger. Not because you don’t know what to say, but for the fear of being embarrassed or worse, standing there with the words stuck like a large bone in your throat. If you are like me, the incident that happened earlier this week (to me) would have been an opportunity missed.

So here I was, feeling all confident and swag in my heels, when a lady walked into the reception area, where I was waiting to see someone as well, and sat opposite me. Few minutes later, she was on the phone and for almost five minutes, I overheard a portion of her conversation and discovered she writes movie scripts; something we both have in common.

By the time she dropped the phone, I had arrived at my conclusions:
First, she was definitely more experienced than I was and I knew that introducing myself to her would be a challenge as I was about to give myself up as an eavesdropper! (*covers face*).
Secondly, she never once made eye contact which would have prompted me to introduce myself with a smile.

How did I overcome my struggles and get the best of the opportunity?
Simple: I demonstrated the points I am about to share with you.

One, the earlier you get it over with, the better.

If I had waited much longer, the impact of my introduction would have been lost. She had just finished speaking on the phone on a subject we both shared in common. It was a nice follow up to her phone chat and a great conversational intro to simply introduce myself, and I did just that.
 “Hello Madam, I’m sorry to intrude, but I couldn’t help overhearing a part of your conversation. You’re in the film industry?” Blah. Blah Blah.
She smiled. The conversation went smoothly after that.
Extra point for you to note: The other person may just be dying for an introduction and may be less confident than you are.

Second, people like to talk about themselves. So LISTEN!

It is tempting to jump into the conversation and rattle on about what you do, how important your work is and whatever. But resist the temptation. Not yet.
I listened. I had a lot to talk about, but I chose to hear more about herself. The more she spoke about her work, the more I gained from the conversation. Plus, listening to someone makes the other person feel important and appreciative of your presence.

Contribute meaningfully.

Don’t just stand and stare. Say something!
Respond to the other person through meaningful contribution. Ask questions where necessary, chip in something you read or heard somewhere. Make eye contact where necessary to show you are interested in the conversation. Make the conversation entertaining and you will pique the other person’s curiosity.

 ASK for the person’s card. Don’t offer yours

That itch to press your card boldly into the other person’s hand…
No matter how bad the itch is, STOP! Ask for her/his card, and if yours is not requested for in return, don’t push it. Remember you started the conversation?
Requesting for a card is a great way to follow up on a meaningful contact and to appreciate the other person for their presence.  

Finally, follow up with an email or a text message and introduce yourself again

Follow up!
It’s this simple: “Hello. We met at blah blah blah…’. Say thank you for the time and gush over the insight the conversation gave you. Ask if the other person does not mind you saying hello now and then.
Most times, the answer is a pleased “of course”…

Extra: What’s the worst that can happen?

Don’t miss out on opportunities simply because of that small lump in your throat? C’mon, get over it! Seriously, what’s the worst that can happen?

 Have you missed out on an opportunity that could have been gold??? Let’s gist. Share in the comments below.


  1. Ify, nice one. Fortunately for me,I don't have issues approaching people for discussions. I am always hopeful that my smile and gracious approach will wade off any reservations of the other party.

    However, if my smile doesn't work, I will respect myself and try out your tips.

    Good one girl.

  2. Brilliant article Ify. Well done. I'll be sure to try them out :-)

  3. Thanks for the comments!
    Hoping these tips will help if the uber-awesome smile doesn't... ;)

  4. Nice! I should start using the tips immediately.

    Hi Ify, my name is Shade and I work with Ms. Atta. lol

    1. Hi Shade,
      Thanks so much for taking out time to read and even comment! I trust these tips will definitely help. Maybe, you can share your experience afterwards...*wink*