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If a stranger across a crowded room catches your fancy, ask your host or a mutual friend or acquaintance to introduce you. But don’t leave things to chance. Instead, prepare your own ten-second commercial ahead of time by telling your introducer what to say—your name, perhaps where you’re from, and what you do for a living, or something else memorable about you, all put in an interesting way. It’ll come off a lot better than “Heather, this is Jim. He got soaked coming here, didn’t you, Jim?”

It’s also important to follow that old rule: Two’s company, three’s a crowd. Politely ask your host to introduce you, say one or two interesting things about you, and then leave. “Heather, this is Jim. He lives in Seattle and he makes films.” You want the third party out of the way so the conversation doesn’t become two people talking and one listening—a bad dynamic for making a connection, no matter who ends up doing the talking.

If you really want to impress, ask your host to tell you two or three interesting things about the person you want to meet before he introduces you. Then, when you do connect, you can say, “Bob told me that you spent last month in a Buddhist retreat. What was it like? What inspired you to go?” This strategy puts you on a more personal footing faster.

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