Networking 101: Introducing Yourself — with PunchSubmitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Sunday 10th October 2010
- How to get people to remember your name.
- How to get people to understand what you can do for them.
- How to get others interested in you.
This latest installment in SharpWork’s ongoing series on networking, we provide information on how to introduce yourself in memorable way. For more information, don’t miss Networking 101: "Working" a Networking Event and Networking 101: Remembering Names.
You’ve heard it before: networking is a necessary tool for increasing visibility and business contacts. The good part is that it's inexpensive, time-effective and has more of a social tone than traditional business "prospecting." The essential goal of networking is always the same: reach as many people as possible and make every connection count.
Lynne Waymon, author of Smart Networking: How To Turn Contacts Into Cash, Clients and Career Success, and a longtime networking researcher, urges that introducing yourself properly is the key to effective networking. Check out how Waymon’s "million dollar moments" – the three components of a great introduction – can make your next networking event a breeze:
Step One: When Names Are Exchanged
This is your chance to teach another person your name and make sure you remember theirs. Waymon recommends using the "Forrest Gump Rule." Say your name twice ("My name is Forrest. Forrest Gump") to give new people two chances to remember your name.
Another tip is to give the person you meet a "trick" for remembering your name. This added information will help cement the name in his or her mind. For example, Waymon introduces herself by saying, "My name is Lynne Waymon. I’m way down at the end of the alphabet." The extra comment focuses your listener on how your name fits in with the statement you just made.
When learning someone else’s name, avoid glancing down furtively at the name tag – as if looking is forbidden. Be curious about the name. Ask how it is pronounced. Focus on remembering it long enough to introduce the person to someone else who comes along.
Finally, ask for a business card and hand over your own. This helps in two ways. First, some people are visually oriented. If you’re not wearing name tags, the person you meet may be more likely to remember your name if he or she sees it written down. Second, once you’ve given away your card, the person you meet will have a physical memento of your meeting – and a way to look you up if he or she decides to contact you.
Step Two: When You Give Your Job Title
Waymon says, "If you simply say [that] you are a lawyer, CPA or graphic artist, it doesn't really tell what you do – and nobody cares."
Waymon suggests composing a two sentence answer. The first sentence describes your talent or skill. The second sentence relates an example of something you've done recently: a project or a success. For example, the "first sentence" from a SharpMan CPA could be, "I negotiate with the IRS." The second sentence is, "Last week, I convinced the IRS that my client's horse farm is not a hobby."
This way, the person you meet can immediately associate what you do with a positive action or outcome which may turn out to be useful to that person or someone he or she knows.
Step Three: When People Ask, "How Are You" or "What's New?"
Often, people pass these questions off with trite answers, such as "fine" and "not much." Waymon believes that these two questions can actually offer opportunities for exchange. "Create an agenda of topics you can give – something that you know, care about or are looking for. Choose an item from your personal and your business agenda, and put a topic out from one of these in answer to the question." For example, when someone asks Waymon "What's new?" her most recent answer is, "I just went to gospel singing camp." A business topic might be, "I want to learn software." She says the topics are limitless, with only one exception: "You can't say, ‘I'm looking for clients for my business.’ That violates all the rules of good networking."
When someone else is talking about what’s "new" with them, Waymon advises, "Listen generously, thinking ‘how can I help this other person?’"