Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Making introductions, part of Communication Tips Weekly.
- Introductions and connections you make between two people are key elements of your professional brand. People who are great at introductions display confidence and genuineness. You need to be comfortable and sincere with this social skill. In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell uses the term "connectors" to describe people who create large networks across many different social sectors. These connectors have a natural inclination to bring people together through their introductions.
Whether you're a connector or not, here are some tips you can practice to make great introductions. Energy. Your physical and vocal energy needs to be high, but attuned to the setting, the culture, and the occasion. Be careful not to come across overly enthusiastic if the setting is a low-key coffee hour, or to be too subdued in a speed networking event. Authenticity. We all have our own genuine original approach and yours needs to be one that feels true to you.
From your gestures to your stance and the inflection of your voice, be yourself and avoid emulating someone else. If you wanna dive a little deeper into authenticity, check out my communication tip on building authenticity. When I talk about authenticity, it's important to realize that cultural differences come into play as well. In some cultures, smiling too much communicates insincerity. So, find a good balance between being authentic and adjusting to cultural norms.
But remember that false attempts at authenticity are universal and easy to spot. Context of commonality. Look for visuals or context clues to help you connect with people. If you're mingling at the end of a conference, ask your acquaintance what she thought about the speaker. Or, if you notice that she's holding a binder with a university logo, ask her if she graduated from there. Or say that you detect someone's accent. Use that to start a conversation about their country of origin.
Eye contact. Keep it attentive and intentional. When introducing yourself, much of your energy comes from your eyes, since you're standing in close proximity with the other person. Attentive listening. It's easy to distinguish a good listener from a person waiting for their turn to speak. When you introduce yourself, listen to the person's name, details of their position, or company affiliation. Nod, give verbal affirmations, such as "Wow, of course," that show the other person that you're paying attention and processing what they are saying.
Here are types of introductions when you can use and practice all these tips. Self-introductions with a stranger. As you approach your soon-to-be acquaintance, greet them, make eye contact, reach out your hand for a handshake, or bow. Say your name clearly and pause. Ask an open-ended and connecting question. For example, "I saw you attended the keynote. "What did you learn from it?" Self-introduction with someone you have commonality with.
Here's the example that I use. "Hi, I'm Tatiana. The dean said "you're someone I just have to meet. "She has great things to say about you." These two tips relate to situations where you connect with another person. The following are tips where you are playing the role of the connector. Introducing two people who are strangers, but you know individually. Introduce the person who's closest to you first.
"I would like to introduce you to my husband, Jack." Then introduce the second person and make the connection for the first. "Jack, this is Phil. We do a lot of work together on the MBA side of our program." Introducing two people who are strangers but share a commonality. "Phil, this is my husband, Jack. "Jack, this is Phil who I work with in the MBA program. "I have been wanting to introduce the two of you forever "because you both like running obstacle courses." Then, you can jump back into the topic if the energy falls, by saying something like, "So, where do you buy the best trail-running shoes "for your runs?" When working in cultures outside of the US, note some special considerations on introductions and ask trusted cultural interpreters for advice before you act.
Introduce the junior person first to the senior person, that could be age-wise or position-wise. Consider using titles such as "Doctor," "Professor," and overall formalities such as "Mister" or "Misses." Many cultures are more formal than the US, and you will find that it is far better to start being out too formal than too casual. Developing your introduction and connecting skills will help you establish a positive impression in your network.
- Understanding introversion and extroversion
- Persuading people
- Negotiating your needs
- Making small talk
- Saying no
- And more…
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