When you’re on a journey to self-made success, you might meet a millionaire along the way. Part of the process of becoming a self-made millionaire is to meet and network with people who are already successful. Meeting a wealthy person might make you nervous the first time, which is understandable. Unfortunately, no one ever teaches you how to speak to a successful person and make a good impression. And it could completely make or break your chances of networking with the right people.
Millionaires are normal people just like you and me. The only difference is that they are hard workers who made good choices with their money. When I entered my 20’s, I was lucky enough to begin meeting and working with more millionaires than I can count. There are plenty of cliches that people make when talking to them for the first time. There are also red flags that will tell them never to speak to you again, so we compiled some topics you should avoid when meeting a millionaire.
20. “How Much Money Do You Make?”
Asking how much money someone makes is incredibly rude, no matter who they are. It looks like you only care about this person’s money instead of them as an individual. For some reason, people assume that when you have a lot of money, you would be willing to share, because you’re proud. But the reality is that having a lot of money makes you a target for people trying to use you for the wrong reasons.
If you meet someone who is a millionaire, avoid talking about money. Even after knowing someone for years, never directly ask them how much money they have. They might eventually volunteer certain information, like how much their company is worth, but this will only be revealed when they feel that they can trust you. Sometimes, you might know a millionaire for years without ever knowing exactly how much they make.
19. Name-Dropping Celebrities
One of the most cliche things people do when meeting a millionaire for the first time is to name-drop the richest person they know. Or they might mention the fact that they met a celebrity. Even if they don’t actually know the celebrity very well, they think that name-dropping will help get them to a higher social circle. The reality of the situation is that name-dropping is very obvious and is a huge turnoff. Even if you were friends with a celebrity, name-dropping still doesn’t work. This tells others that you’re riding their coattails.
Real rich people don’t get worked up about celebrities. They might not actually want to be famous because they want to maintain their privacy. Basically, if you are very successful and confident in your own abilities, you want your own name to shine instead of bragging about knowing someone who’s famous.
18. Complaining About Money
Rich people are financially comfortable, so they have no reason to complain about money. If you begin to complain about your own finances, they’ll immediately consider this a red flag. They might assume that if they continue to talk to you, the conversation will eventually lead to you asking them for money. It can also make them feel uncomfortable knowing that their financial status is that much better than yours.
Some of you might not see the problem with this, but put yourself in their shoes. It’s the same uncomfortable feeling of being asked for money by a homeless person on the street. As a good person, you feel obligated to help them. But you wonder if they truly need the money, or if your donation is just going to enable the addiction that got them on the street. You might be thinking the homeless person should get a job to support themselves.
17. “Where Are You From?”
Asking where someone is from is a normal part of getting to know a person. This makes a lot of sense if you’re meeting a new friend at a party or on a first date. However, people who are rich usually have more than one property in different cities or countries. So the question “where are you from?” sounds like you were asking where they grew up. If you are meeting them in a professional setting, this question might be a little too intimate to ask someone at first, especially if it’s at a networking event. A better question to ask is, “Where are you based?” or “Where do you live?”
Some people who are self-made millionaires might not have the best memories of home, either. Or they might not want to talk about the small town they came from, because they now identify themselves as a New Yorker. Even if they had rich parents and a great upbringing, they still might want to be judged for their own accomplishments rather than their parents. So it’s best to just stay away from the topic when you first network with a millionaire. If you actually take time to become a friend to this person, you will learn where they grew up.
16. Passive-Aggressive Jealousy
One of the worst things you can ever do when meeting a rich person is to act jealous of them. Even if you’re trying to fake being nice, it often comes off as passive-aggressive. One of the most common passive-aggressive comments I have heard from people is, “Must be nice,” in response to hearing a story about something upscale. That envy causes the atmosphere of the conversation to shift. It makes the rich person feel guilty about “bragging” about their wealth when they could just be honest about their life.
When you hear a rich person talk about their luxurious lifestyle, you might feel envy. But instead of letting it come out in a negative way, remind yourself that this person probably worked hard. If you worked just as hard, you could have those same things, too. Try to be happy. When you can become genuinely happy for other people’s good fortune, wealthy people will want to be your friend.
There are plenty of people out there who make the mistake of gossiping with someone they just met. While the conversation may be interesting, it automatically tells the other person that you are gossipy. And if you gossip about a mutual acquaintance, they are going to be very cautious about themselves. After all, if you’re willing to spill secrets to someone you just met, how could they trust you with their personal information?
Privacy is one of the most valuable things in the world, and many millionaires pay good money to maintain their personal lives behind closed doors. Some millionaires believe that privacy and discretion is far more important than fame. These people are more likely to be turned off by your behavior. There is almost nothing positive that could ever come from gossip.
14. Pitching a Business Idea
Entrepreneurial-wannabes dream of meeting a millionaire businessperson because they think it could be their golden opportunity. Maybe they have seen too many episodes of Shark Tank and think every rich person is willing to sit down and listen to a stranger’s ideas. In their fantasy scenario, this rich person might even offer to invest in your startup. The real world doesn’t work this way. Rich people are far too busy to listen to a stranger’s idea. Most millionaires are sick of hearing it, especially at a social function.
Wealthy people realize there is so much more that goes into starting a business than good ideas. Before you get investors, you need to put in the work to prove your business is profitable. Starting a business with someone is also like getting into a marriage. You don’t just jump into it with someone you met for the first time. Every wise investor does a tremendous amount of research before giving their money away. So this fantasy idea would never actually happen. Instead of pushing your ideas on someone you just met, see if you can work alongside them for a while first. If they see that you are talented, hard-working, and motivated, they just might be willing to invest in your ideas later.
13. Revealing Yourself as Competition
In the world of the middle-class, it’s actually a good thing for you to reveal you both work in the same industry. However, if you meet someone in the upper echelons of society who runs a business, revealing that you work in the same industry just might turn you into competition, especially if you run a similar business.
Even if this other person’s business is far more successful than yours, they are not likely to want to get to know you for a number of reasons. If you are much lower on the totem pole, you could be perceived as someone who is trying to ride on their coattails to build your own career.
12. Revealing Information You Knew About Them Beforehand
Millionaires are not always famous. But if you are meeting a wealthy person, they might also be a celebrity. In this case, you might have heard about them through an article on the Internet, TV, or social media. So many people make the mistake of talking to a celebrity as if they are already friends. Imagine meeting a stranger for the first time, and they already know the name of your significant other, your dog, and where you live. It puts you both in an awkward position.
When normal people meet each other for the first time, it’s a blank slate. Celebrities still want to get to know you at a normal pace. Someone’s public image isn’t always real, and the media may be painting them as someone who is different than reality. If you find yourself in the position of becoming friends with a celebrity, do yourself a favor and stop Googling their information. Try to get to know them like you would anyone else. Ask questions, listen, and be yourself.
11. Saying “I Love You”
Nearly every celebrity on the planet has had one of their fans run up to them in public and declare, “I love you!” Imagine how you would feel if a random stranger ran up to you at a shop and yelled that they loved you. The words “I love you” are usually reserved for the closest people in your life, not complete strangers. In reality, you don’t actually love them. You love the idea of who you think they are, but you haven’t gotten to know the real person yet.
If you want to let a celebrity know that you are aware of them and are a fan, there’s a way to do it without letting go of your dignity. You can simply say, “I love your work” or “I’m a fan of your work” in a calm tone, and then move the conversation along to something else. Sometimes, they might want to hear more about how you are familiar with their work. Other times, people will feel embarrassed to talk too much about themselves and will appreciate that you didn’t make that the center of the conversation.
10. Talking Too Much About Work
When getting to know a successful business owner, you might be tempted to ask how they run their company. It’s understandable why you might ask this since their company is obviously a huge part of their life and identity. So you might assume that asking for details would be part of the process of getting to know them. However, a lot of business owners want to separate their professional and personal lives.
There might also be insider secrets that they are afraid to share for fear of having their ideas stolen. Competition is fierce, and you never know who to trust. Much of their daily grind might feel boring to them and they don’t feel like getting into the details when they are trying to get to know you. So don’t get offended if an entrepreneur wants to quickly change the subject. If you truly do become friends with this person, you will eventually hear more about their business.
9. Interrupting Existing Conversation
One of the absolute worst things people do to well-known successful people is interrupting their existing conversations. For example, maybe you see your hero standing across the room talking to someone. You think, “This could be my only chance! I’ve got to go over there!” So you make your way over, and either stand nearby or insert yourself into their existing conversation. Maybe you have seen this work in a movie before, but in reality, it’s actually a huge “no,” and you might even be escorted out of the building.
Even if you say “excuse me” to get their attention, it’s still incredibly rude. You have no idea what they were talking about before you came over. It could have been an incredibly important conversation or a sensitive business discussion. By interrupting them, you are putting your desires above theirs and completely disregarding their privacy. Try to wait until they are alone.
8. Trying Too Hard to Impress Them
This advice goes for nearly every social situation, whether you are speaking to a millionaire or just an average joe. Trying too hard to impress someone gives off an air of desperation that’s incredibly unattractive. It also lets them know immediately that you are not on an equal playing field. Even if they do decide to speak to you, it could be because they might think you’re easy to control, which can never be a good thing.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to calm yourself down if you are meeting someone you’ve admired for a while. Just remember that you have value, too. And you usually don’t get in the sort of situations that allow you to meet celebrities and millionaires in the first place unless you have already earned it. So feel confident in who you are, and imagine that you are just as good of a colleague as they are. It might sound a bit like “fake it ’til you make it,” but it truly helps.
7. Talking Too Much About Yourself
Another wholly unattractive quality is talking too much about yourself. Earlier in this article, we talked about knowing a lot about a wealthy person before actually meeting them. You might feel compelled to tell them a lot about you because it only seems fair, right? However, they’re still a normal person. They want an equal exchange of you going back and forth telling one another about yourself.
Be mindful of how much you are talking about yourself and don’t forget to ask them questions. Remind yourself there is probably a lot you actually don’t know about this person. Don’t assume that just because you heard about their life through an article that you know everything about this person. Human beings contain multitudes. So always be willing to listen.
6. Asking For a Selfie
If you meet a celebrity for the first time and immediately ask for a selfie, you have officially put yourself in the “fan” category. There’s no going back once you ask for this selfie and you have completely ruined your chances of ever being taken seriously as a friend. By asking for a selfie, your intention is probably to post a picture on Facebook or Instagram to tell your friends, “Look who I just met!” It’s kind of like going to the zoo and posing for a picture next to the animals.
Think about what happens when you meet someone new in school, or at a new job. Would you ask the person sitting next to you for a selfie on the day you met? Absolutely not, it would be weird. But after sitting next to that person for a few weeks, you might find yourselves getting lunch, or including them in your Snapchat story. Meeting a celebrity or a millionaire is exactly the same way. If you have actual intentions of being taken seriously by them, don’t ask for a selfie or anything else that would designate you as a fan.
5. Asking For Advice
One of the biggest mistakes people make when meeting someone wealthy is to ask for advice on how they can become rich. There is a misconception that rich people know some kind of “secret.” The truth is that this kind of advice can’t be distilled in just a few minutes. Most millionaires worked incredibly hard for years, going through their own trials and tribulations before they became wealthy. Even if they could give you a Cliff Notes version of their success, it would be vague advice.
Since it takes much longer than five minutes to learn about someone’s journey to success, some people might even ask to meet up for coffee so that they can “pick their brain.” What some people fail to realize is that picking someone’s brain is a professional consultation, and never free. The richer you get, the less time you have. Their advice is incredibly valuable, and some people charge well over $100 per hour just to consult. So expecting a stranger to give you that time for free is incredibly bold and shows you lack knowledge and experience.
4. Bringing Up Politics
You may have already heard the advice that you should never talk about politics or religion over dinner. This is true with anyone. But this is especially important advice to follow when you meet someone you are trying to impress. Some people make the mistake of believing that in order to impress a successful person, you need to talk about “high level” topics like politics. However, you don’t know which way this person leans politically. So you might accidentally offend them.
It’s great to be up-to-date on politics just in case it becomes a natural part of the conversation. But you should never immediately go for politics as a topic. If you met someone for the first time and ended up in an intense political debate, would you want to become their friend? It’s far more likely to turn someone off than have them think you are worthy of getting to know.
3. Talking Badly About Yourself
Centuries ago, court jesters made themselves look stupid in order to make kings feel good about themselves. You shouldn’t be putting yourself down with the idea it might inflate a millionaire’s ego. Some people like to use self-deprecating humor. This works in certain situations in order to diffuse tension whenever someone may assume that you are arrogant. It can also show that you have a sense of humility and might make you a more likable person.
But if you do mock yourself too often, it can make it seem that you have really poor self-esteem. Remember that self-deprecating humor really works the best if you blend it with a sense of confidence. If some of you out there are scratching your heads wondering how you can be both self-deprecating and confident at the same time, maybe you shouldn’t try this method. When this type of humor is done incorrectly, it could come across as you being totally down on yourself in a bad way.
2. Speaking In Cliches
Plenty of people say cliches on a daily basis if they don’t know what else to say. While this might be fine in everyday life, it’s not exactly going to make you stand out. If you speak in cliches, you aren’t being original. When a conversation is not at all memorable, people are likely to forget you later.
Some people are more naturally quick-witted and clever than others. In reality, you can actually train yourself to be funny and clever. You might want to listen to comedians discussing their craft on podcasts. Public speaking classes are also amazing at helping boost your confidence when talking to others. When you combine all of this effort together, you will find you have more captivating conversations with all kinds of people.
Some people say that if you want to succeed, you need to “fake it ’til you make it.” In certain aspects, like pretending to be more confident or wearing nice clothes, this might be true. By acting and dressing like someone rich, it will help you get on track to actually becoming wealthy. But you should never lie to anyone about your current level of success.
Lies will never get you anywhere. Some people can see right through your false information, especially if you don’t actually work in the industry you are talking about. And there is also no good outcome that would ever come of it. Remember that you might make a connection with someone, and being dishonest is only going to lead to a scenario where they can’t trust you anymore. So it’s best to be upfront even if you are still learning about your industry of choice