Sense & Sensitivity

Business Dinner Leads to Influential Contacts

DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to a business dinner the other evening and met a number of very influential people. Two of them gave me their cards and asked me to keep in touch with them. I was honored to receive their cards, but I have no idea what we would talk about if we were to follow up with each other. One woman is a legend in her field. The man is on the rise at his company. Me, I’m just trying to reinvent myself after having worked for 20 years in one field, only to see it virtually shut down recently. I don’t see why they would want to talk to me. I’m thinking they gave me their cards just to be nice. What should I do? -- Timid, Falls Church, Virginia

DEAR TIMID: Clearly these individuals saw something in you they liked since they offered you their cards. Use this opportunity to expand your horizons. Follow up with them and say how much you enjoyed meeting them. State something specific you remember about your interaction that could spark further conversation. Trust that there is a good reason these people wanted to be in touch with you. Do your homework. Learn about what they do. Think about whether there are any synergies between you. Each of them may have knowledge and insight that could be helpful to you as you reinvent yourself.

Prepare to talk to them by being aware of who they are and clear about where you are headed. These people may have job opportunities that could be perfect for you. Have faith in yourself and find out.

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