I went to a board meeting this morning with a group of diverse business professionals and educators. Since it was the first meeting of the school year, there were a few new board members. The chairperson asked everyone to stand and briefly introduce themselves. We started at the front of the room, and since I was in the back, I had a few minutes to think about my introduction.
Should I use my standard introduction about my consulting business or focus on freelance writing and communications coaching? The room was full of potential clients, and this was a golden opportunity to reach a lot of new prospects. With each introduction my opportunity grew closer. I rehearsed a short introduction, focusing on aspects that would most appeal to the group and gave it as much energy and personality as I could. After the meeting was over, several people approached me for my business cards and the end result was one new prospective client.
Whether you’re a business owner, entrepreneur or a job seeker, you can make a big impact with a dynamic introduction. There are lots of situations where you’ll be asked to introduce yourself. It could be in a group meeting like mine this morning, at a dinner meeting, professional or civic organization or a casual get-together with neighbors or friends. The exciting thing is you never know who will be in the audience or group or their current situation or needs. Here are a few tips to make the most of your next introduction.
- Keep it short. This is not a time to give your entire resume or life story. Let the other person ask for more information.
- Consider the audience and tailor your introduction to make the biggest impact. For instance, if you’re a guest at a Rotary meeting with a lot of business professionals give your name and two or three of your top areas of expertise or work experience.
- Let people know you’re looking for a job. Be creative. You can say you’re “in transition” or “exploring new career opportunities.” Don’t go into detail about how you got fired or the plant closed down. Keep it upbeat but clear you’re looking and available.
- Be energetic. Energy, positive attitude and a confident voice tone make your introduction exciting and memorable. It’s hard to stand up in front of a group of working professionals or friends and admit you’re out of a job. Don’t be apologetic or embarrassed. Lots of people have been there, and can empathize with your situation.
- Make eye contact. During your introduction, scan the room and make eye contact with a couple of people. Eye contact makes connections. Smile and people will smile back at you.
During the meeting, pay attention to small talk and comments made by members of the group. Look for connections you have with individuals. After the meeting, introduce yourself again and comment on what they had to say or mention that you went to the same school or whatever the connection point is. You’ve already made one memorable introduction; now you have a second chance to make a good impression.