Whether you’re blanking on your date’s name, missed connecting with someone you’ve been trying to meet for a year, or getting zero response from the three emails to potentially huge client (despite her being a college roommate of your friend’s wife), the root of the problem is the same: poor introductions.
In a famous Seinfeld episode, Jerry is dating a woman whose name he can’t remember. All he knows is it rhymes with a female genital part. So he asks his friend, George Costanza, to introduce himself so he can catch the woman’s name. George pops in and says, “Hi, I’m George.” Mystery Woman says, “Nice to meet you.” George then turns to Jerry, shrugs his shoulders, and mutters on his way out, “Hey, I tried.”
It’s too bad George, Jerry, and Jerry’s date didn’t all read this post on introductions first.
How to make introductions in person
I am a staunch feminist and believe women and men are equally intelligent. But in general, women are awful at introductions. And the bar is low because men aren’t so great either.
If you are introducing just yourself:
1. Smile, get eye contact, and hold it for a beat. Do not be scanning the room, looking at your reflection, or anything else.
2. I can’t believe this needs to be said. But it does. Hold out your hand and give a firm handshake. Ladies, stop with the passive, limp, holding-out-your-hand-as-if-you’re-getting-a-manicure handshake. Give a good couple of pumps.
3. Clearly say your name and supply a blip of information. “Hello, I’m George, I designed Jerry’s house.” or “Hi, I’m Elaine, the bride’s sister.”
4. Don’t be a low talker. Speak up.
5. The other person may only reply, “Nice to meet you.” In that case, you’ll have to say, “And your name is?”
6. When the other person says their name, do not be multitasking in your mind what witty thing you are going to say next. Your only task is to listen to the name.
7. Repeat the name back to the person and, if possible, ask something about the name. “Is that Sara with an ‘H’ ?” If you’re up for it, add, “Because Sarahs with an ‘H’ were always the smart ones in class.”
8. If you exchange cards, really look at the card and the name. Pick up on one element or item to continue the conversation. And while discussing, carefully tuck it away in a place you have committed to memory to be your collection point.
If you’re introducing two people:
Take a bit of time. Do not just say, “Jim, this is Bob. Bob, Jim.” Instead, “Jim, you know that app we’re always using to find the best bathroom in the city? Bob Benes here designed it. Bob, this is Jim Brown, our company CTO.”
Social media offers more ways to make both good and bad introductions
Because of email, LinkedIn, and social networking, there are many more ways to do half-assed introductions. Here are some tips to avoid that.
1. Help the introducer help you. Sometimes bad introductions happen because the person doing the introducing isn’t sure what to say. What are the main things you want them to say about you? Give them three bullet points so you’ve done 95% of the work.
2. Ask for help. If the requester for an introduction didn’t read the above tip, ask them to supply you with some key points they want to get across.
3. Think about what’s in it for the other person. I get messages that sometimes say, “You should talk to so-and-so.” I appreciate your thinking of me but give me a good story as to why we both would find this beneficial so I can make an informed introduction.
4. Give feedback to the introducer. If they are going out of their way to help you, the least you can do is tell them what happened after the introduction even if it’s just, “we met for coffee but our business needs are too different.”
Don’t be promiscuous with introductions
Before that second glass of wine, commit that you will not gush to people you’ve just met, “I’m going to introduce you to Ms. Big Wig,” unless you know Big Wig well and have a good feeling she will want to meet your new friend. Otherwise, you’re wasting everyone’s time and making yourself out to be a flake.
- Think of three people you would love someone in your network to introduce you to. Figure out how you would like to be introduced to them using your elevator speech as a starting point
- What two people do you know that would benefit from meeting each other? Make the introduction that you wish people would do for you
- Make a lasting impression by not being socially invisible
Photo courtesy of hypervocal.com
Got some other tips for introductions? Tell us in comments.
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