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.
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?”