Some say it is important to be recognized by admissions officers before applying to your target schools. Is it important to strategically approach AOs before applying? Or does it not matter? If it is important what can be a strategic way?
In some schools it really does matter. The optimal strategy is to go visit the university, ask for the card/email of the admissions officer looking at your region and meet them in person. Post your trip send an email thanking them. When it comes time to apply, send an email back to the same chain so you pop up and the AO sees the continuity in your interest in the school. This is especially important with waitlists.
For graduate school, this is even more important. AOs are humans and connection matters.