Classic Nerd Guru: Breaking the ice at a meeting with LinkedIn

Note: This article originally ran on June 11 2007, is slightly edited for reprint in an effort to share previously published ideas with new readers.

When you have a meeting with people you’ve never met before, those first couple of minutes when everyone is getting settled in can be extremely awkward. You want to be friendly and potentially build your network by engaging the people who are new to you, but gripping questions like “So, how’s the weather where you’re from?” or “How long have you been with Black Sun? Do you like that company?” don’t exactly spark interesting conversation.

But, if you and I were in a meeting and you asked me, “Did you ever go to that nude beach near UCSD?” that would get my attention. How might you find out more detailed information about someone that you can use to establish a relationship BEFORE you meet them?

This is yet another magic of LinkedIn. Check out my LinkedIn profile as an example. If you dig into my full profile, you can discover that I went to school in La Jolla for 5 years, been issued a patent, and worked a lot with Struts and ASP.NET. You can come up with a lot more interesting questions based on that information than the normal pre-meeting chit-chat (although you have to have knowledge of nude beach locations to ask the example question) and by extension be more memorable.

That’s not to say you can get away with being a total moron in the meeting itself, but if you shine there too the combination of the two can make a bigger impression.

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