“You only get one chance to make a first impression.” This saying holds tremendous weight in the business world, where introductions influence relationships with clients, customers, and employees. However, you probably know the sinking feeling that comes with walking away from an introduction feeling like you sold yourself short.
We’ve all been there, but like most people, it’s something you never want to experience again.
What makes introductions so tricky is you only have a limited time to do them. In the space of a few seconds, you need to show confidence, expertise, and a certain amount of charm.
This can be especially difficult if you’re one of the 15 million people in the U.S. who have social anxiety. Whether you’re meeting a business partner for the first time or preparing a self-introduction in a job interview, you can master this ability.
Read on to learn how to introduce yourself and how to advance your professional career with this skill.
Why Introductions Matter
In the business world, introductions are how people create connections and start relationships. Think of the last time you made a self-introduction in a job interview. That was the first step toward establishing a relationship with your current employer. Or maybe you conduct job interviews frequently as part of a job search and hiring process. Chances are the candidates who introduced themselves the best, whether in-person or in a cover letter, immediately separated themselves from the pack regardless of qualifications or experience.
How to Introduce Yourself: The Basics
A great self-introduction is no easy thing to perfect. Introductions need to change depending on the situation and the audience. Though there are many types of introductions you can follow, each one has the same three essential elements when done in a business setting.
- Your name: No self-introduction is complete without at least telling people who you are. Even when people are likely aware of your identity, stating your name is a formal way to begin your introduction.
- What you do: Indicate your role within the company. This helps people place proper context on your goals as a professional. It can also help inform them of your skills and level of expertise.
- Other necessary information: Among introductions, this element varies the most. You should indicate to the audience why you’re introducing yourself in the first place. It may be essential to go over that information even if the purpose is obvious. This element also tells people what they should get from meeting you.
How to Introduce Yourself: The Professional Approach
When you introduce yourself in a business setting, the difference between a good and lousy self-introduction could end up being thousands of dollars in a business deal or gainful employment. Though much may be riding on it, you can navigate introductions with ease once you know the right approach. To get the best outcome, check out the following tips.
1. Provide More Than Your Name and Title
Most people begin a self-introduction with their name and job title. While that’s not a bad place to start, your job title doesn’t entirely communicate other important aspects of your story. For example, telling someone you’re a sales associate or marketer only paints a simple picture of you. Instead of just stating your title, say you run high-level campaigns for your company’s highest paying clients (if applicable). That bit of extra detail highlights your role and importance in your organization.
2. Share Your Contributions
While you can’t always go into detail on your most significant achievements, you should still mention what you’ve contributed to your company. Tell people why they should make a connection with you. If you point out the benefits you bring to your organization, others will be more likely to pay attention.
This holds true for leaders meeting their teams for the first time, as it shows why they should trust you. As Brené Brown explains in Dare to Lead, proving your trustworthiness is a vital aspect of becoming a leader.
3. Check Your Appearance
Your appearance should reflect who you are and the occasion. For professional introductions, dress appropriately for the setting. Make sure you’re well-groomed and that nothing will distract from what you say. Your appearance is just as important for video calls since many people act as remote workers now.
4. Be Aware of Your Body Language
Concerns about your appearance should extend to your body language. That means ensuring you make eye contact during your introduction. Give people a natural handshake that’s firm but not overpowering. You should also take care not to fidget while speaking, as it will distract from your self-introduction.
5. Keep It Relevant
Make sure your introduction provides people with relevant information. If part of your introduction includes the fact that you love Blue Bunny ice cream, it comes across as childish and unprofessional. It also doesn’t have anything to do with the important details people want to know when they meet you. Providing irrelevant information will have people focusing on the wrong things, and your chance to make a good first impression will go to waste.
How to Introduce Yourself: The Casual Approach
Not every situation where you introduce yourself will be a professional setting. For more casual settings, you’ll need a different approach. These types of settings may happen in passing at a conference or while on a break. While you should still show confidence and poise, you can also use the following tips, too.
Use Humor Appropriately
In casual situations, humor can help lighten the mood and set others at ease. A joke can create a comfortable atmosphere, provided it doesn’t go too far. Make sure any use of humor is appropriate and suitably light. Remember that these are new people you’re introducing yourself to, so your humor should bring positive vibes.
Keep It Brief
Generally speaking, introductions should be brief and last no more than 30 seconds. Any longer, and you risk starting the conversation in a one-sided manner. Casual self-introductions should be even shorter and allow for a natural discussion. Keeping things short will help people feel more a part of the ensuing dialogue.
“Hi, my name is John Doe, and as an advertising executive for GlobalCo., I run campaigns for our enterprise clients. Thanks to our advertising efforts, our biggest clients have tripled their sales in only two years. I’m excited to explore a partnership with your company so you can see the same results.”
“Hello, I’m Jessica Janeway, the CTO for Software Inc. Have you read the articles about the new project management software most financial firms now use? I headed up the team that developed it.”
“Good afternoon. My name’s Alan Edwards. I’m a thought leader for business development and regularly give leadership presentations for Fortune 500 business leaders. Would you like to discuss doing business?”
Get Started on the Right Foot When You Introduce Yourself
You can’t make a second first impression. If focusing on the structure of an introduction seems like overkill for you, just make a point to practice your own introduction. Take 60 seconds and do two or three practice introductions in the morning before you meet a big client. Practice and confidence make all the difference.
And most important of all, after you’ve introduced yourself, be sure to listen to what other people have to say. By putting your best foot forward right from the beginning, you’ll be in a better position to establish connections and create long-lasting relationships.
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