Give people an excuse to talk to you


Do you find yourself in a big party room or conference room standing or sitting alone by your lonesome? Or do you find yourself wanting to meet somebody but you are scared-off-your-pants, because you don’t know how to approach that person or you don’t know what to say? And the day or night wears off without you meeting any interesting person. Sad, ‘no? Pathetic, even.

What you need is a pick-up device or tool that works well for your social and/or business networking purposes. The current apple of my eyes, author Leil Lowndes, suggests sporting a visual prop he calls “whatzit.” He says it is anything you wear or carry that is unusual—a unique pin, an interesting purse, a strange tie, or an amusing hat. A whatzit is any object that draws people’s attention and inspires them to approach you and ask, “Uh, what’s that?” Your whatzit can be as subtle or overt as your personality and the occasion permits.

I wear red lipstick (and I make sure I retouch it every now and then to make sure they stay red) and somehow, people seem attracted to it. They don’t ask “what’s that” because it is very obvious but they certainly notice (especially when I give them my flooding smile) and want to talk to me.

I also have a friend who wears a beautiful hat all the time. People seem to want to talk to her because wearing a hat in this country is not a common thing. They don’t ask her, “what’s that?” but they approach her to have a closer view and there starts a good conversation. The thing, though, is that some people would prefer to look at her from afar.

But every time I wear a hat, people automatically remember her and tell me, “ah, you want to look like [name].” She now has a whatzit and a brand. That’s good.

Leil says that he wears around his neck an outmoded pair of glasses that resembles a double monocle. “Often the curious have approached me at a gathering and asked,
“Whatzit?” I explain it’s a lorgnette left to me by my grandmother, which, of course paves the way to discuss hatred of glasses, aging eyes, love or loss of grandmothers, adoration of antique jewelry—anywhere the inquisitor wants to take it.”

Or do you notice yourself eyeing someone you would like to talk to but is tentative about approaching? You think of a thousand and one things to conjure an excuse to strike a conversation. And you smile when you see her or him wearing something weird, wild or wonderful, something that you could comment on.

A whatzit is a social aid when you are seeking a business or romantic connection, or you simply want to have somebody to talk with. It is actually an ancient trick and is still very useful in this age and clime. Cleopatra had her monstrous hairpieces, but I doubt if anybody ever dared to ask her, “What’s that?” A whatzit is not just anything, it should spark an emotion, a remembrance, a symbol of the wearer’s interest, unique and uncommon.

When you are to approach a business tycoon and you notice that he is wearing a beautiful golf club tie clip say, “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice your attractive tie clip. Are you a golfer? Me, too. What courses have you played?” And you hand over your business card to seal the acquaintances.

A whatzit and your business cards are crucial socializing artifacts according to Leil.

Whether you are inside the elevator, climbing the steps or walking the red carpet, make sure your whatzit is hanging out for all to see.

Never leave home without a whatzit. It is less subtle than most pick-up lines.


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