You only get one chance to make a first impression, so you better make it a good'un. If you're prepping for a business networking event, here are our top tips from networking pro Luke Cunliffe on how to introduce yourself.
Who should you talk to?
First - look for people standing alone – they’re easier to approach.
If nobody is standing alone then look for groups of three or more. Approach them, stand on the edge, make eye contact with someone (not the person speaking) and smile. Wait for an appropriate moment to introduce yourself, e.g. a break in the conversation. People will generally look at you and smile back, and either introduce themselves and their colleagues or invite you to introduce yourself.
How should you approach them?
Give your first name and offer your hand for a handshake. Icebreaking is fast – it’s as quick as “hi, I’m Luke” and offering your hand. Then you can go into the conversation topics. At first you’re just looking for common ground.
What NOT to say
Don’t start with a joke unless you’re a natural comedian. It’s all about being authentic and real. It can be very obvious when things are forced, so it's always best to be yourself.
Avoid elevator pitches and ‘quirky’ infomercial style introductions. Keep it natural and authentic – people want to meet the real you, not a fake one!
What you should say
Offer two to three small pieces of information, for example the name of your employer and what you do.
As you get further into the conversation, volunteer other pieces of information such as which department you work in, what kind of role you perform and so on.
If your contact looks a little clueless about what you do, make it easy for them by explaining as simply as possible what kind of work you handle. This can be done by using a recent example, saying what you’re working on currently, or saying what a typical day entails.
Conversation is not a monologue (which is why it’s best to avoid an elevator pitch or a kind of 'infomercial’ about yourself). Not many people want to give a 30 second ‘infomercial’ about their job and nobody wants to listen to one either!
So really it’s a two-way street. You should prepare not just for what you want to say, but the kinds of questions you could ask somebody.
Preparing a few bullet points about your job and also preparing a few questions in advance of an event will make it a lot easier to converse to people at an event.