Since many publishing executives are insecure, its essential to make a human connection. Here are some tips:
- Leave your dog, Ego, at home.
If you don' understand something, ask. Don't try to seem more important, educated, or intelligent than you are. Don't try to "cover." Be honest. People love to work with equals.
- Ask questions.
It can build a bond between you and your audience. But never get too personal or ask too many questions. Acceptable topics are sports ("Did you see that game last night?"), food ("Have you tried that new restaurant over on Fourth?"), or business ("Did you hear that Disney is going to restructure again?"). Note: Don't use that last question if you are pitching a Disney exec.
- Listen to the answers.
You may not believe that the twenty-year-old executive across the desk from you has had enough life experience to wax on about the drawbacks of social security on the national economy and his paycheck, but keep your mouth shut. Nod along. Better yet, be fascinated.
- Make it seem like a conversation.
Conversations are made of give and take. Expect to give a lot more. Not words. Compassion, understanding, and empathetic rage if necessary. Listen to their extemporaneous speeches for as long as they run, then keep your responses brief, to the point, and witty (though not wittier than the executive). They may find your intriguing. It does happen. Just don't forget to pitch your story.
Remember, the goal is to connect. If you decide to work together, you're going to have a lot more conversations.