Standing Out

How to Introduce Yourself

A confident hello is key to making new acquaintances. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to introduce yourself

How to Introduce Yourself

How to Introduce Yourself

Opportunity knocks, as they say. There is no better way to find new opportunities than by attending in-person meetings and events. But opportunity can be especially hard to follow up on when people don’t know who you are. Or how to contact you. Which is why it is so critical to know HOW to introduce yourself.

I love meeting people, friends and strangers alike. I have met many professional contact and even made great friends through chance networking meetings. But meeting and greeting takes practice, even for me. The networking champion. But I keep at it, because I know how critical meeting people is to growing my business.

If you’re looking to open doors and build connections, it is important to get yourself noticed and to make an impression. Whether you’re in a social setting, a professional one, or even just chatting up someone interesting at Starbucks, a confident hello is first step to making new acquaintances.

Here are some more tips on how to introduce yourself.

How to Introduce Yourself: Start with a Hello

Don’t overthink your introduction. A simple “Hi” or “Hello” works just fine in almost every setting. If you’re greeting strangers, especially at business networking events, very few people will not respond to a friendly hello.

Many people in the room are also looking to make connections so they will probably even appreciate it if you make the first move.

Tip: Add a smile to the mix and make eye contact, and you’ll come off as someone who is confident, approachable and friendly. That’s a hard combination for most people to resist.

Tip 2: If you know absolutely no one, stand by the bar or the coffee stand. People are less likely to be having deep conversations while they are waiting for drinks. Plus, having a common purpose, like waiting for a much-needed beverage, gives you some common ground and a great conversation starter.

Say Your Name, Clearly

Don’t mumble. People can’t follow up with you if they don’t know who you are. Say your name, first and last, and say it clearly and loud enough to be heard. If your name is uncommon, tell people, briefly, how to pronounce it. When someone gives you their name, repeat it back to them. This will help you remember them and it will demonstrate that you’re interested in connecting with them.

Say Something Interesting Or Unexpected

Sure, you should mention your title, your company, and a VERY brief description of what you do. Example: “I’m Jane Doe, a marketing manager at You and Me Corp, where I handle digital marketing strategies.” But also share something unexpected. Preferably something that gives people a specific outcome.

Sometimes I tell people, “I specialize in helping super heroes tell their stories.” Breaking the monotony of a long introduction session can really help you stand out, especially when you end your intro with something specific that can help others.

Keep It Short

Resist the urge to tell people every single thing about yourself and what you’re up to. Instead, pick one or two (at most) relevant data points, and keep your intro short and sweet. Focus on being interesting over being comprehensive, so they think of you as someone they would like to follow up with at a later time.

“How to Introduce Yourself” Means Introduce. Not Sell

When introducing yourself to strangers, your goal is to make a connection. It is not to sell your product or service. I hate, hate, HATE getting trapped by someone who won’t stop talking about insurance or financial planning. Ugh. Don’t leave people feeling the same way about you.

Focus on building rapport or starting a conversation. Once a connection has been established, agree to follow up later. Skip the lengthy sales pitch. Please and thank you.

Being Interesting Starts With Being Interested

Being too interesting can also be annoying if you’re doing all the talking. One of the best ways to BE interesting is to be interested in others. Ask ice breakers such as, “What do you do,” or “What was the motivation to start your own business.” You’ll learn enough about them to get a sense if they are a potential client. You can then follow up later to pitch them with your products and services.

Exchange Contact Information

Share business cards or a QR Code with your contact info. Tell people how to find you on LinkedIn. For anyone you enjoyed meeting, whether or not they are a potential client, follow up with them by sending a message on social media or an email to reinforce the connection and continue the relationship.

Keep Notes

If you are sitting down in a group setting, write down the names of everyone making an intro. If you are meeting face-to-face keep notes in a notebook. Make it a point to remember the people you meet. Why? Good leaders remember names, according to Let’s Grow Leaders.

No one expects you to remember every single name, but when you write the names down, you’ll remember more names and present yourself as someone who pays attention. Keeping notes is a great memory aid.

…But Don’t Read Your Notes

If you’re making an intro, especially on a stage, please. please don’t read notes. Your voice will take on a monotone and you WILL lose the interest of the people you are trying to connect with. It is better to be brief but passionate about one topic, rather than reading a long list of bullets that causes everyone to stop listening.

Follow Up

If you meet one or two people you really like, follow up with them. You don’t have to contact them to make a sales pitch. Just stay in touch with anyone fun or interesting or someone you’d like to get to know better. Staying in touch with people helps extend your professional network and let’s you practice your social skills.

Be Yourself

Don’t try too hard to be something you’re not. Be genuine. If you’re not comfortable in social settings, say hello, ask a few questions and see where the conversation goes. If it doesn’t go anywhere, tell them it was nice to meet them and move on.

Be Confident

The only exception to the “be authentic” rule is be confident, even if that isn’t your normal state. Confidence is attractive and convincing. People love confident people. You don’t necessarily have to be confident about your social skills, but believe in yourself and let that confidence in the work you do speak for itself.

Understand Context in How You Introduce Yourself

Remember to consider where you are and who you are speaking to. Different settings (professional meeting, social event, casual gathering) require different approaches on how to introduce yourself. Also think about why you are introducing yourself. Is it to network, to make friends, or to establish a professional connection? Finally, read body language. If the other person doesn’t seem interested in connecting, that is not on you. Don’t force the relationship, just be okay with moving on.

Have Your Speech-lets Ready

One of my core principles when I work with new clients is having them complete an Audience Value Matrix. In this tool, I ask people to list their core services and to create AND memorize one mini speech (speech-let) for each of those products. If you’re struggling with how to introduce yourself, memorizing this mini sales pitch, you will always be ready to promote your core services no matter where you are. Having your speechlets ready, will cut down on the, “Oh darn, I forgot to say this” regrets after the meeting has ended. Be prepared, Boy Scouts, be prepared.

Stay Flexible

Be okay in shifting focus if the conversation takes a different direction than you originally intended. You may have wanted to have a conversation about your marketing services but instead you make a connection over needing a better product management system. That’s okay. Having something in common will make you far more memorable than if you spend your time hammering home a script.

Practice Make Perfect

No one is 100 percent perfect at meeting people. But the more you practice your social skills, the better you will get. Talk to strangers. Ask your friends and family what they think. Go to lots of events and just keep going.

By following these steps, you can learn how to introduce yourself effectively in any situation.

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