LOS ANGELES (TheStreet) -- Author, entrepreneur and philanthropist Christopher Kai says many people make networking mistakes that prevent them from building important business or personal relationships.
Kai, who says he got Tesla (TSLA) founder Elon Musk's email after striking up a conversation with the famous executive, offers some simple tips for meeting movers and shakers.
First, do your research, says Kai, whose latest book is titled Big Game Hunting, and who is attending the Milken Global Conference in Los Angeles.
Most people "don’t do enough research," Kai says. "They spend more time … planning on their vacation than they do on a networking event."
Kai says people going to conferences should pore over the attendee lists.
"They’ll literally say, 'Hey, 40% are senior executives, 20% are middle management,'" he said. "So always do your best to do the research and find people that are consistently going to Milken-level type conferences -- CGI, Davos. Anyone who knows those really big brands that cost over $10,000 to [attend] -- they know what they’re talking about."
Once you're at a conference and spy someone you'd like to meet, Kai encourages you to use what he calls the "three-second rule." Walk up to the person within three seconds and start talking.
"People often say, 'Chris, what do I say?'" Kai said. "Compliment them: 'Oh, that’s a great necklace you have. Have you been to this conference before?' And just have it be really simple and easy, so that you can build a rapport."