So, you’re at a conference and you spot an influencer you admire across the room. OK, be cool. Don’t panic. You’re going to do it. You’re going to talk to them. Maybe even get their contact information. Now is your chance.

After all, that’s the beauty of conferences: you get to meet many great people in your industry, all in one place. But it can also be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re new to the business world.

So how do you approach influencers at a conference? The last thing you want is to be awkward with someone you admire, and even better, want to collaborate with. You also don’t want to come across as desperate. And you don’t want to come across as if you’re just trying to get something from them.

Aaron Orendorff of iconicContent and Nadya Khoja of Venngage asked 26 influencers for tips on just how they would like people to approach them at conferences. There’s no one right way to go about it but looking over their tips, you’ll quickly notice a couple of major themes:

1. Be friendly.

Or, you know, be a generally normal and respectful person. Smile and introduce yourself. Shake their hand. It’s as the famous saying goes, “There are no strangers, only friends you have not met yet.” Forget pretences and just let them know that you’re excited to be there and that you’re happy to be talking to them. Don’t be afraid to show them your personality–as long as you behave respectfully.

2. Compliment their work.

Hey, influencers are people who work really hard at what they do. A sincere compliment will probably mean a lot to them. Maybe even thank them for how their work has helped you in some way. Let them know that you admire their work and don’t be afraid to bring up specifics.

3. Do some research beforehand.

Speaking of specifics, it doesn’t hurt to learn a thing or two about an influencer before approaching them. That doesn’t mean going into creeper-mode and spending hours digging through all of their social media posts. But if you can find an interesting piece of information about them, maybe an interest you both share, then it can be a good way to open up a conversation.

4. Don’t pitch.

There’s a time and a place for pitching your content and in the middle of a crowded room during a busy conference isn’t it. Sure, open up a conversation about something you’re passionate about, but don’t make demands of them. Instead, focus on just engaging in an enjoyable conversation with them.

5. Ask specific questions.

It’s fine to approach an influencer to simply introduce yourself and let them know you admire their work, but you might as well take the opportunity to pick their brains a bit. Think about specific you would like to get some more insights on (like a point they touched on in their presentation, for instance) and get a conversation going that way.

All of the influencers’ tips are compiled in this nifty infographic:


Via Venngage infographics.