First impressions are important. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, we can’t help but make snap decisions about someone within 30 seconds of meeting them. When meeting someone new, it’s important to be on your game. Here are six tips for introducing yourself effectively at networking events:
The first step in a great introduction is enthusiasm. When you walk up to someone with a big smile on your face and introduce yourself, not only do you appear more welcoming, but you also seem genuinely excited to meet that person. This is a win-win at networking events, and it will help you start a conversation on the right foot.
- Shake their hand.
First impressions can be hard to beat. Make sure yours is a good one. When you meet someone at a networking event, offer them a genuine and firm handshake. You might not know it, but a bad handshake (or NO handshake) can reflect poorly on you. When shaking someone’s hand, don’t crush the their fingers, but don’t give them the old dead fish either.
- Say your full name.
When you introduce yourself, make sure you say your full name. Why? It’s usually more memorable. If you have a common first name, chances are people will forget it by the end of the night. So, make an effort to introduce yourself with your first AND last name.
- Explain what you do (not just your job title).
One of the first things people ask at networking events is “What do you do?” If your work isn’t self-explanatory or you’re unemployed, this can be a tricky thing to answer. Instead of waiting for the dreaded question, take the bull by the horns and pop it into your introduction. However, instead of simply telling them your job or role, explain the problem you solve.
For example, I’m a career coach. It’s a relatively new kind of job, so most people aren’t really sure what it is yet. So, instead of just saying, “I’m a career coach. What do you do?” and leaving people hanging, I go into a little more detail about what I do every day. So, I would say something like, “I’m a career coach. I help professionals improve their careers and find great jobs through a training program called CareerHMO.”
- Be brief.
No one wants to get stuck with The Rambler at networking events. Make sure you keep your introduction short and sweet so you can move on to more important (and fun!) topics.
- Understand when it’s your turn to listen.
Once you’ve gotten your introduction out of the way, it’s time to hear what the other person has to say. Who are they? What do they do? Focus your attention on them and listen intently. Don’t think about what you’re going to say next. Give them the respect and attention they deserve.