Introductions. We all need to do them if we wish to meet new people. Some people try hard to avoid it; others thrive on building connections. Yet, if you wish to be successful at networking, you need to learn the knack of introducing yourself to strangers.
Political intelligent leaders are skilled at introducing themselves to strangers. It’s often said of famous leaders such as Bill Clinton, Jacinda Ardern and Nelson Mandela “He/She made me feel like I was the only person in the room” when they only met someone for a few minutes.
Perhaps you even know of a leader or skilled communicator who made you feel that way?
Politically astute leaders know how to work a room. It’s an art and a skill that can be learnt.
- Take the initiative
- Start even as you walk into the meeting room, by initiating a friendly chat on the way in, or as you sign up for your nametag, conference folder etc.
- Project confidence and a friendly smile and walk up to someone to introduce yourself.
- Talk about what you do, where you are from; not just your title or company name.
2. Shake hands.
- The handshake was a traditional way of saying ‘See… I carry no dagger to kill you with!” and in modern culture, it still works, especially for formal gatherings.
- With confidence and a broad smile, extend your hand for a greeting.
- Make good contact expressing warmth, friendliness and avoid too hard ‘bone-crusher or too limp ‘wet fish’ handshake
3. Be mindful of your body language
- If your posture is “open,” you will come across as welcoming and friendly. Be straight, with your shoulders back and your head up.
- Resist fidgeting
- Face the person you are speaking to.
4. Make eye contact
- Be present, stay in the moment as you introduce yourself.
- Say hello and tell them your name
- When someone tells you their name back, or you can read it on their name tag, say “pleased to meet you, Delores”.
- Ask, then listen to their response, with genuine sincerity.
- Next, ask an ‘open question’ about them and use their name.
- Listen to their response with an open mind and curiosity.
As Dale Carnegie famously said in the classic self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
6. Finish gracefully and move on
- There comes a time when perhaps the small talk has finished, and it is time for you to move on to others, you may already know in the room, or potential new connections.
- Take a business card or use the ‘find nearby’ feature to connect on LinkedIn
- If someone is by themselves, it can be kind to introduce them to others you know.
- Otherwise, a ‘thanks for the chat and I will see you around’ may do.
Finally, practice makes perfect. If this feels a bit unnatural to you, with practice, it will become easier. You will be able to meet anyone, anywhere, and master the art of networking.
Try these steps at your conference or meeting. Let me know if you start to notice a difference in the level of connections you have with strangers. I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn and tell me how your experiment works out.
Ruth McGowan OAM is an accredited trainer in Political Intelligence and runs training on how to Boost your Political Savvy for new and aspiring leaders.