Your dream contact walks onto the elevator you’re on and you think, “Now’s the chance to make a vital connection.” But before you can think of how to make your introduction, the doors open and your potential new contact is stepping off the elevator.
Instead of fixating the whole time on what to say to break the ice, here are five steps to always remember that will help you avoid an awkward elevator ride:
If there are a few people sharing the elevator, check out if they’re wearing any company logos or whether or not they’re talking about work. Is there something unique that can be used as an opening? Are they wearing a nice suit, covered in snow, holding lunch from a place you know? Is there something you can make a comment on?
Break the ice with something you noticed, whether you ask about their company or compliment their suit. If they respond, introduce yourself, where you work, and what you do. This doesn’t need to be forced, but rather a casual introduction that would be made to a friend of a friend.
If you see that the seventh floor is lit up, ask, “What’s on floor seven?” It’s the easiest way to figure out where they are going or what the company does. If they are visiting a colleague or a client, ask what the company is.
After they mentioned whom they are there to visit, try to find someone in common, whether it’s the receptionist, a friend of yours that visited the company, etc. Maybe they know who you’re visiting in the building and regardless if they ask or not, mention it.
It’s time for them to get off. Take note of the floor and the company. If this happens in your own office building, invite them to check out your office. If they say they’ll take a rain check, ask for their card to follow up. Give them a business card regardless, and emphasize how much you enjoyed meeting them.
—Maureen Hoersten (Brown) is chief revenue officer for LaSalle Network, and responsible for driving and managing new business, as well as overseeing the recruiting functions for customer service and office services verticals.