What would you say if you had 15 minutes to spend with a celebrity? Would you stammer your way through a question? Would you turn your shirt sleeve up, request an autograph with the promise that you wouldn't wash your arm for a week?
I had the privilege of speaking recently at the Paterson Diocese Catechetical Conference which featured renowned Bible scholar Scott Hahn. I had followed Scott since high school and had always appreciated his amazing story of conversion and hope. When my friend Allan Wright called me the night before to see if I could bring Scott to the airport after the event, I glanced at Cary for permission (note to all husbands: always check with your wife) and then said, "heck yeah!"
Then I started stressing out. What do you say to one of the premier Scripture scholars in America? More practically, I walked outside and gave my car a quick cleaning. After all, you don't want to have a celebrity in your car with an old Dunkin Donuts bag at his feet. Not that that's my car mind you...
The day of the event I grew less nervous and my own workshop rocked. I had 80 participants and the vibe was excellent. Afterwards, I managed to get Scott to the airport in one piece and we had a great conversation along the way. So what are some tips if you're faced with an event like the one I was, albeit with a "quasi-celebrity"?
- Make a great first impression. Remember to use a firm handshake, look the person in the eye and be gracious. Famous people are both fawned over and used all the time. You don't want to fall into either of those categories. Very specifically, do not ever eat salad prior to meeting someone you care about.
- Look good. Not much to say here except what I tell our high school seniors- you want to be remembered for the right reasons.
- Have one or two prepared questions. For example, I asked Scott some "big picture" questions about the Church and his perspective on the new Pope.
- Get a photo taken. Be sure to ask someone who will actually take a good, unblurred photo. I once met Margaret Benefiel and was so excited to have a photo taken only to see later that is was blurry and a waste of megabites.
- Write a personal note to follow up. Sure, he or she will probably never see you again but polite people write personal notes so why not?
- Have fun telling people about it without being obnoxious. Enough said.
While Scott Hahn may not have as many Twitter followers as any member of the Kardashian family, he's a big deal to me. My opportunity to meet him was definitely a highlight of the year. I'm glad I made the most out of my 15 minutes with him.
What are your tips or suggestions for meeting and making the most out of the celebrities in your life?