Approaching others or being receptive to the advance of others, 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.
- 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, looks 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.
- 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 weenies), 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.
You can find Ed’s book, Raise Your Visibility & Value: Uncover the Lost Art of Connecting on the Job