What Happened to the Art of the Introduction?

Let’s face it. At some point in the development of our society, we lost the ability to introduce ourselves to one another. I was not alive when this loss occurred, so I do not have firsthand knowledge of when this happened. I am not a sociologist, so I do not have the research fundraising skills to figure out why this occurred. I am not suggesting that our ancestors excelled at introducing themselves and that this ability mysteriously eroded over time. It does seem, however, that the attention we pay on introducing ourselves to one another peaked at some point in the past. Perhaps you can imagine the following “moments of introduction” throughout history.

Circa 1,000,000 B.C.

Grog: “Ugga.”
Sura: “Yug.”

Circa 1910

Gregory: “Good afternoon. My name is Gregory Van Pelt. It is a pleasure to meet you. Lovely day, is it not?”
Suzanne: “Good afternoon, Mr. Van Pelt. My name is Suzanne Rockefeller. The pleasure is all mine, I am sure. It is quite the lovely day.”

Circa 2015

Greg: “What up.”
Sue: “Yo.”

What happened? Is it the head-spinning advances in technology, growing networks of global economies, and changing workplace demographics that we discussed in the introduction of this book? While I do not know the answer, I do know that the degradation in your ability to introduce yourself is causing you to miss an opportunity to make a strong first impression. You are more likely to say good morning to Siri than to a colleague. John Clancy, President of Radius Worldwide, a global software services company, understands the importance of a strong first impression. John has held a number of senior leadership roles throughout his career and has met hundreds of new colleagues, investors, and customers along the way. “I can’t stress enough the importance of the first few seconds you have when meeting a new person. With a strong introduction, you have the opportunity to create a connection that provides you a surplus of goodwill. No one wants to start a relationship in a deficit, which takes even more effort to turnaround. Making a good first impression is critical to laying a strong foundation for future interaction.”

Why Don’t We Introduce Ourselves Well?

Regardless of your comfort level or skill, you are probably one or more of the following when you introduce yourself to a new colleague:

Inconsistent. Sometimes you introduce yourself to others effectively and sometimes you do not.
Uncomfortable. You find introducing yourself to be uncomfortable; you either introduce yourself quickly or you avoid introducing yourself altogether.
Inattentive. You pay little attention while you are introducing yourself – it is over before you even realize it.
Underskilled. You do not know how to introduce yourself effectively.
Underinvested. You do not value the importance of a strong introduction, and you have not thought about building your skill for introducing yourself to others.

Whether you are inconsistent, inattentive, or underinvested, introducing yourself effectively is one of the foundations for raising your visibility and value in your organization and industry. If there is one behavior I could change that would help me feel this book is a wild success, it would be shifting your mindset regarding introducing yourself – shifting from the belief that introducing yourself is unimportant to the belief that introducing yourself is a critical behavior to embrace in today’s fast-paced and frenetic organizations.

Which Visibility Accelerator Needs the Most Attention?

As you work to raise your visibility in your organization and industry, certain activities and behaviors are more productive and will accelerate your efforts. These “accelerators” are like putting rocket fuel in a Honda Civic. When you “step on the gas,” you will enhance your presence and reputation faster than ever before. And these activities and behaviors can be easily integrated into your already busy workday.

Which of the following visibility accelerators needs the most attention on your end?

Introduce yourself – the degree in which you introduce yourself to new colleagues and make a great first impression.

Be accessible – The degree in which colleagues can reach you and benefit from the interaction.

Be responsive – The degree in which you get back to your colleagues and foster progress.

Interact with others – The degree in which you engage one-to-one with colleagues in your organization and industry.

Participate with a purpose – The degree in which you engage in one-to-many activities with colleagues in your organization and industry.

Engage with industry associations – The degree in which you interact and participate with colleagues outside of your organization.

Manage your reputation – How your colleagues think or speak about you when you are not present.