How Can You Introduce Yourself? (Part 3)

There are a number of ways to introduce yourself effectively. Consider the following third step of a model (comprised of the strong start, the strong introduction, and the strong finish) when working on introducing yourself to others.

Regardless of how strong you started, your best efforts will be eroded without a strong finish. How you exit an introduction might be the last thing a new colleague remembers about you, so make sure you have a strong finish.

A strong finish is also important as a strong finish is often the first step to your next interaction with your colleague. When you connect with new colleagues, do not consider your interaction as a one-time event, but the start of a possible relationship. Strong finishes make your next strong start easier.

‘The last segment of the introduction process is to exit your introduction effectively. If you find yourself connecting with a colleague in ways that feels energizing and rewarding, stay with it for as long as it feels right. Conversely, staying in an introductory conversation for too long may deny you the opportunity to meet additional colleagues.

At some point, you will sense that it is time to move to another introduction. Extending an introduction long after it should have been over is not beneficial to you or your colleague. Most probably, you will extend an introduction long after it should have been over because you do not know how to end it effectively and politely. Here are some suggestions on how to exit an introduction in ways that builds a bridge to your next interaction.

– “I see some other colleagues that I would like to say hello to. If you don’t mind, I am going to head over to see them. It has been great meeting you and I look forward to connecting again soon.”

– “It has been great meeting you! If you can give me your contact information, I would love to continue this conversation over coffee.”

– “I’d love to continue our conversation, but I see a colleague that I need to mention something to. If you would excuse me, I am going to grab him before I miss him.”

How Can You Introduce Yourself? (Part 2)

There are a number of ways to introduce yourself effectively. Consider the following second step of a model (comprised of the strong start, the strong introduction, and the strong finish) when working on introducing yourself to others.

Your strong introduction is comprised of two activities:

– introducing yourself and
– engaging in varying degrees of small talk.

A lot of networking literature refers to a concept called the “30-second commercial.” This commercial is your “30 seconds of fame,” an opportunity to tell new colleagues who you are and what you do.

A reminder that the focus on Raise Your Visibility and Value is on employed business professionals. Subsequently you don’t need to focus a lot of your attention and effort on creating, memorizing, and speaking like a commercial. When you think of commercials, you likely think of someone trying to sell you something. If fact, most of us record television programs on our Tivo recorders so we can skip the commercials! Skip the commercial and introduce yourself with simplicity and authenticity. Your colleagues will appreciate it.

Most introductions also require some degree of small talk in order to avoid awkward silences. Small talk does not need to be profound or moving. If it were, we would not call it “small” talk. Small talk is designed to create a bridge between your introduction and your strong finish.

Introduce yourself.

You don’t need a different way of introducing yourself for every situation, so create a simple way of introducing yourself that works most of the time. By creating a simple way of introducing yourself, you are also able to practice, build your skill set, and grow your confidence. Here are some suggestions on introductions that might work for you:

– “Hi, Kathy. Great meeting you. My name is Ed Evarts and I am a leadership coach and author.”
– “Good morning. I just wanted to take an opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Ed Evarts and I am an author and leadership coach.”
– “Hi. I don’t think we’ve met. My name is Ed Evarts and I am an author and leadership coach.”

Engage in small talk.

For many of you, engaging in small talk is the most painful step in this model. Similar to Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s observation during the 1988 Vice Presidential debate that his opponent Dan Quayle was “no Jack Kennedy,” I can assure you that I am no Emily Post. What I can tell you is that the smoothest way to create small talk is to ask questions. If you fertilize a new interaction with questions, a conversation will be born. Here are some questions you might ask a colleague you are meeting for the first time:

At your organization.

– “What do you do for (insert your company name here)?”
– “How long have you been with (insert your company name here)?”
– “What’s keeping you busy these days?”
– “I don’t think we’ve met before. How long have you been here and what do you do here?”

At an industry networking event.

– “What brings you here this evening?”
– “Have you been to this event (or this location) before?”
– “Do you know many people here? Would you be kind enough to introduce me to some of your colleagues?”

How Can You Introduce Yourself?

There are a number of ways to introduce yourself effectively. Consider the following first three-steps of a six-step model (comprised of the strong start, the strong introduction, and the strong finish) when working on introducing yourself to others.

The Strong Start

Approaching others or being receptive to the approach of others, along with great eye contact and a confident handshake, are key components to a strong start. These behaviors illustrate that you are comfortable and skilled at introducing yourself. In real time, your strong start will last from five to seven seconds. Don’t underestimate, however, the difference that a few seconds can make when introducing yourself effectively.

-Œ Approach Others. Opportunities to introduce yourself will generally arrive in one of two ways – either a colleague will approach you or you will approach a colleague. Regardless of “who goes first,” you either need to approach new colleagues in order to introduce yourself, or be receptive to new colleagues when they approach you.

- Make eye contact. Strong eye contact is one of the best ways to demonstrate that you are an attentive and invested participant. While your eye contact will vary during the conversation, focus on eye contact more when you are listening than when you are speaking. You may be the type of person who speaks visually, and in order to do so, look away at what I call the “invisible whiteboard.” This invisible whiteboard is where you do your best thinking and where you collect your thoughts in order to speak effectively. However, if you look away when your new colleague is speaking, you may appear disinterested. Maintain strong eye contact when your colleague is speaking.

-Ž Shake hands. While it might not be required or accepted in all cultures, shake hands with a new colleague when appropriate. If it does not seem to fit the moment (e.g., your colleague may not be feeling well and is not shaking hands at the moment) or there is not an opportunity to shake a new colleague’s hand (e.g., your colleague’s hands are full with a glass of wine and a plate of cocktail weinies), that is fine. Move on and introduce yourself. If shaking a hand of a new colleague does seem to fit the moment, give a firm but brief handshake.

Do You or Don’t You Introduce Yourself to Others?

Are you skeptical of the importance of a strong introduction? Sit back and watch the behavior of colleagues who do not know one another and do not introduce themselves at your next meeting. Discomfort reigns as it feels that something is missing. Their interactions are stilted. Progress flounders. If you are a busy business professional in an ever-evolving organization, you fall into one of the following categories when you introduce yourself to colleagues you do not know.

Avoider

You avoid introducing yourself at all costs. Perhaps you are highly uncomfortable or severely underskilled. Much like getting a flu shot, you want your introduction to be quick and painless. In fact, you would not introduce yourself to others at all if you could avoid doing so.

Do any of the following Avoider characteristics seem familiar to you when you think about introducing yourself to others?

– You sit down at a company meeting and immediately take out your smartphone to scroll email.
– You sit down next to a table full of colleagues at a training class and immediately look at the training material.
– You sit down at a table at a networking event and quietly “disappear” into another world, staring at anything or anyone as long as it is not anyone at your table.
– You join a senior leadership meeting and you sit next to a known colleague who saved you a seat.
– You sit with a new group at a teambuilding session and never introduce yourself.

Fumbler

You introduce yourself, yet you do so poorly. Perhaps you are inconsistent, inattentive, or underskilled. Perhaps you do not value the benefit of a solid introduction. Whatever the reason, your inability to introduce yourself effectively leaves others feeling unimpressed and underwhelmed.

Do any of the following Fumbler characteristics seem familiar to you when you think about how you introduce yourself to others?

– You take an opportunity to introduce yourself, yet you look away as you do so, reeking of disinterest.-
– You only introduce yourself when a colleague starts the introduction for you.
– You are approached by a new colleague who introduces himself to you and you respond by saying “Hi,” without saying your name.
– You introduce yourself to others, yet you are asked to repeat your name because you mumbled when you spoke.
– You are not focused on the colleague you are meeting, which causes you to repeatedly ask, “I’m sorry, what was your name again?”

Introducer

You are consistent, attentive, skilled, and invested. You introduce yourself with energy, clarity, and confidence. You are focused on your colleague and interested in meeting him. You know that introducing yourself is an exciting opportunity to make a great first impression and a thrilling opportunity to connect with a new colleague.

Do any of the following Introducer characteristics seem familiar to you when you think about introducing yourself to others?

– You demonstrate excitement in meeting another individual. You are interested in hearing your colleague’s name and any other additional information about him. Your colleagues feel energized simply by meeting you.
– You know the importance of a good introduction and you want to create a great first impression. You express this confidence with a solid handshake and a strong voice.
– You know what you want to say and you say it clearly and concisely.
– While you are introducing yourself, you are also focused on the other person. You demonstrate good eye contact and you ask questions that demonstrate you are listening.

What is Reputation?

Reputation is the intangible ways in which we connect with others. This is where activities and behaviors that help you be known in your organization and industry exist. I like to think of reputation as the echo you leave when you exit a room. Your reputation is what your colleagues say about you when you are not there. Perhaps your colleagues are commenting on a presentation you just gave, or an interaction you just had, or your candidacy for a promotion. Do you know what they are saying about you? More importantly, what do you want your colleagues to be saying about you?

The global workplace is full of office “tyrants.” These troublesome creatures are very visible in their environments, just not in a good way. To survive in their fast-paced and ever-changing organizations, office tyrants feed on negative and energy draining behavior. They create havoc while performing their job responsibilities, cause controversy on every project, and cauterize relationships in ways that impede progress. A visitor to an environment that houses an office tyrant can easily tell when office tyrants are approaching simply by watching the behavior of the office tyrant’s colleagues. Their eyes roll, their bodies stiffen, and they will often scatter for the nearest water cooler or stairwell. Most troubling for office tyrants looking to create their next controversy is the fact that colleagues they have yet to meet are aware of their disruptive and unproductive behavior even before meeting them. As another successful day of bad behavior comes to a close, the office tyrants withdraw, only to return the next day to feed again. Can you think of any office tyrants in your organization? Do you know your reputation at work? Could you be an office tyrant?

Individuals successful in building a good reputation are regarded in positive ways. Your colleagues with great reputations are not only known in positive ways by colleagues with whom they have met and collaborated, they are similarly known to colleagues whom they have yet to meet. The old adage, “your reputation precedes you,” continues to exist due to individuals who are very successful in managing their reputation in their organization and industry.

What is Presence?

Presence is the tangible ways in which you connect with others. This is the place where activities and behaviors that help you be seen in your organization and industry exist. When you work to build your presence, you are seeking physical ways to connect with others and contribute to your organization and industry. You cannot be visible is you are not seen by others!

In your busy work environment, it is easy to become an office “hermit.” Thousands of office hermits are spotted in corporations around the globe on a daily basis. These surreptitious creatures quietly enter their offices as dawn breaks to ensure they do not have to interact with others. While hermits’ office doors are closed for most of the workday, passersby can hear the occasional sound of keys clicking on a keyboard or muffled voices on a conference call. As the sun reaches its peak, office hermits quickly dart from the confines of their offices to seek out food in a variety of places – perhaps the employee cafeteria or a local fast food restaurant. Whatever the choice, they have to be quick, as office hermits must return to their place of safety and solitude – their office – before they are seen by or have to interact with others. As the day plods on, key clicking and voice muffling continues. Then, just as at dawn, office hermits will quickly exit the building at dusk, slithering down hallways, scrunching themselves into the corners of elevators, and, with speed that would impress a jaguar on the Serengeti, exit for the day. And, as dawn arises the following day, the cycle continues. Can you think of any office hermits at your place of work? Are you yourself an office hermit?

Individuals successful in building their presence seize opportunities to be seen at work by “picking up their heads,” getting out of their offices, and building relationships across functional areas. They identify opportunities to be seen in different ways (i.e., subject matter expert, team member, cross-functional contributor). They interact, participate, and engage with others.

How Do Visibility and Value Relate to Each Other?

It is important to recognize that visibility and value are deeply symbiotic in your organization and industry. You already know that professional risks exist for busy business professionals who are invisible or undervalued in their organization. You do not want to be visible without providing value, and it is hard to demonstrate the value that you provide if you are invisible.

Low Value + Low Visibility. You are at a high risk level when a headcount reduction or departmental realignment occurs. The only reason you might survive is that no one knows what you do or where to find you!

Low Value + High Visibility. You are at a very high risk level, as you are providing little value and everyone knows it. How have you survived this far?

High Value + Low Visibility. You are at a moderate risk level, as the value you are providing exists – decision makers just don’t know who you are.

High Value + High Visibility. You are at a low risk level, as you are providing value to, and are visible in, your organization and industry. While no one can guarantee you employment or a promotion, you are reducing the likelihood of unexpectedly losing your job or missing a promotion.

What is Meant by Professional Transparency in Your Organization?

Networking while employed and performance appraisals are becoming increasingly ineffective due to the explosive growth in professional transparency. As recently as seven years ago, unless the subject of your search was your favorite movie star, rock star, or politician, your ability to find details about another individual was challenging. This was not due to your faulty research skills – information about an average individual simply did not exist publicly. In fact, information about others was so absent in the not-too-distant past, the thought of seeking out personal or professional details regarding another person would not have even occurred to you.

Today, individuals you have never met, from anywhere on the globe, are instantly finding out more about you than any other time in human history. Whether they are at their desk in a towering glass office building, sequestered in their basement at their suburban home, or lounging at their favorite cappuccino bar, they can instantly access volumes of information about you with only a few keystrokes. Fortunately, some of this information is beneficial to your profile. Unfortunately, some of this information you would prefer to keep private.

Recently, I attended a social media presentation that was hosted by the president of a regional marketing organization. To show the power of Google, one of his colleagues googled the president’s name as the president was speaking, and a lot of information appeared behind him on a screen. Unfortunately, one of the items on the screen was a link to a court document detailing his recent divorce. Although it was in clear view to the audience, this leader never turned around to see the link and his colleague never said a word. I doubt that this is information he would have chosen as a backdrop during his presentation!

At the same time, you are able to tell people about yourself with greater ease than ever before. If you go back a few short years, before Facebook and Google, the ways to share information about your accomplishments and background were limited to a resume. Your primary strategy was face-to-face, one-by-one conversations with others. Transparency was low. With technology like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and YouTube, you have the ability to increase your personal and professional transparency and instantly share information about yourself with millions of people.

At the same time, organizations across the globe are seeking ways to increase employee transparency. Technology is providing organizations the ability to build internal platforms (ala Facebook and LinkedIn) that allow their employees to build a profile and share information about themselves that are critical to the business. Employees can post a picture, and list their competencies, certifications, degrees, sample projects, work history, and interests. Internal decision makers, hiring managers, and colleagues can subsequently mine for talent internally before looking externally.

What is Meant by the Pace of Change in Your Organization?

Networking and performance appraisals are becoming increasingly ineffective for employed business professionals due to the pace or how quickly you are expected to change.

You are being asked to do more with less, and do more, faster. Listen to Virginia Rometty, the Chief Executive Officer for IBM. The headline of a Wall Street Journal article published in April 2013 boldly declares “IBM’s Chief to Employees: Think Fast, Move Faster.” With so many changes occurring within your industry and your markets, your organization needs you to change faster.

Reporting structures announced today are effective next Monday. The enterprise-wide telecom platform upgrade announced next Tuesday feels as though it is going live tomorrow. A high-tech company that began operations two years ago suddenly has a multi-million or -billion dollar valuation. The social media darling Instagram was launched in October 2010 and was sold in April 2012 to Facebook for one billion dollars. It took forty-two years for television to have 50 million users. The iPod? Just three years

What is Meant by the Frequency of Change in Your Organization?

Frequency refers to how often change occurs. There was a time when organizations were proud of their stability and consistency. Acquisitions were infrequent, co-workers with whom you attended new hire orientation twenty years earlier still were around to join you for lunch. A hard day’s work provided you job security. Words like “right-sizing” and “down-sizing” were not in the dictionary. Your job description had not changed for years.

Today, mergers and acquisitions are daily event. Yesterday’s technology upgrades quickly become obsolete. Roles, responsibilities, and relationships change faster than a name plate on a cubicle. If you are like so many others in your organization, you had had three to five bosses in the past five years. Kevin, a client, shared with me that the boss with whom he wrote his annual goals was not, for three years running, the same boss who reviewed his achievement to his goals at the end of the year. Another year, another boss.

In a March 2014 poll conducted by Inc. Magazine, 28% of the respondent’s business models changed in the last five years; 36% of the respondent’s mix of products and services changed; and 47% of the respondent’s financial structure changed.7 I frequently speak with clients who have received emails that a workgroup – for example, account management – has reorganized their staff and function, effective immediately. These same clients attest that it feels like the same workgroup just reorganized six months earlier!

I worked with a client company whose leadership and organizational structure was relatively the same for almost forty years. This same organization has changed its leadership and “go-to-market” structure three times in the last six years.