31 Days: Master the Art of Introductions
Maybe it’s generational. Because a proper introduction feels like something of a bygone era. Like three-martini lunches or smoking in the office. It’s just not something we do all that regularly. Of course, there are lots of upsides to today’s casualness. You feel less burdened by arbitrary rules and expectations, you can practically wear whatever you like to work and saying hello to someone you find attractive is as simple as swiping a finger on your phone.
The downside, is that we’ve become incredibly lax when it comes to introductions. Maybe we say hello, but do we introduce ourselves? Rarely. Think about a time when you were out with friends and ran into a coworker or an acquaintance. You probably greeted them but failed to introduce your friends and this person, right? It’s becoming something of a lost art, the introduction. But it’s a necessary skill.
We’ve all been in a business meeting where someone kicks things off by saying, “Lets go around and introduce ourselves”” and a quick lightning bolt of panic hits you. Suddenly, you’re hoping for a little extra time to remember your name and think up a few clever lines or backstory. This has two immediate problems:
While doing this, you’re not listening to the other people introduce themselves.
It’s more important than you realize. You’re literally giving context to yourself and offering people their first chance to assess you non-visually (yeah, you’ve already been judged when you walked in the room). So it warrants some consideration.
Introducing yourself with simply your first name, title and company is the cultural norm. “But when you do, you’re missing out on an opportunity for the other person to know who you actually are. You are not just your job,” says Joanna Bloor, a respected ambition guide. She specializes in helping people discover and articulate what makes them distinctive so that they can form deeper connections with others.
When you’re meeting someone new—be it for business or just in life—you’re stepping into the unknown. Ideally, you’ll make a connection and strike up an enjoyable and fruitful conversation. It could be a potential deal, a new neighbor or a prospective love interest. Despite having different end goals, these all start out with the desire of making sure this person knows who you are.
Harvard Business Review suggests a fairly simple “present, past, and future” framework that works for most situations.
Hi, Michael Jones and I’m the creative director. I work in the Brooklyn office.
Hey, I’m Michael Jones and I just moved in next door.
I’ve been at the firm for eight years. Most recently, I worked on the Alpha Financial account, where last year’s campaign won us a Webby award.
I’ve been living on the East Coast forever, but it was always a goal to get to California. Think it’s too late to learn how to surf?
I’m really honored to be here. This project is a significant one and an exciting opportunity for the whole team.
I don’t really know many people here so I wanted to get to know a few of my neighbors and let them know I’m available to hang or help out as I get settled.