By Bernard Marr
Networking is one of the most challenging skills you may have to learn in the world of business. It can be an awkward experience, having the attention of a group of strangers focused on you, and trying to make a good first impression.
It’s an important moment. The person opposite you might be someone who could make or break your career. If you make a good impression, he or she might be able to refer your next big client, or have the influence to help you land that next big contract.
On the other hand, if you act like a doofus, you might alienate someone who might have been an otherwise important connection and relationship.
If you’d like to avoid looking like a jerk, avoid being this guy when introducing yourself:
Name dropper. This person introduces themselves by saying who they know, who they’ve worked with, etc. I might not remember their name, but I’ll remember that they once got Tony Robbins a glass of water.
Drive-by carder. A card is not an introduction. Just throwing your business card at a person, or worse, at as many people as possible at a networking event, is just about the worst kind of introduction you can make. If you hand one to me, I’m going to hand it to the nearest rubbish bin.
Double-carder. Handing someone two copies of your business card to encourage the other person to send you a referral. It’s presumptuous unless they ask for an extra card.
Rambling man (or woman). As soon as you get to talk, you get over excited and start telling your life story. Or the story of how you got to the meeting. Or how you met your spouse. And forget to tell me, you know, who you are.
TMI. If I’m just meeting you, I don’t need to know the entire history of your business or career, all of your degrees and accolades, and your dog’s maiden name. Stick to the basics.
Limp fish. It may be old fashioned, but I think a weak handshake is a turn-off when introducing yourself. Practice a firm (but not crushing) handshake to convey confidence.
The Cannonball. Probably the opposite of the limp fish is the cannonball — the guy who is so overly confident that he’ll barrel his way into any situation or conversation without being invited. If you want to join an ongoing conversation, wait to be acknowledged before you jump right in.
Digital Zombie. If you’re going to a networking event, or a business function of some kind, don’t be so absorbed in yourself and your cell phone that you’re not paying attention.
How to introduce yourself in one simple step:
Instead of leading with what you do, lead with who you help. As in, “Hi, my name is Bernard, and I help companies identify and make the best use of their key performance indicators and big data.”
Done. You know who I am, what I do, and more importantly, whether or not I can help you or someone you know.