Anytime we meet a person for the first time, or reconnect with someone at a social function or business event, an appropriate greeting sets the tone for the exchange. The manner in which you say "Hello" creates an opportunity for someone to form an immediate impression. To master the introduction while coming across as natural and self-confident, brush up on these five etiquette tips.
- Get out of your seat. At a networking event, you shouldn't be sitting down in the first place, but failing to stand when someone walks up to speak to you shows a lack of sophistication and common sense. They may not notice you didn't jump to your feet, but they will pause for a second and recognize that something seems "off" about the meeting (a.k.a. a red flag). Stand up to show respect for yourself and the other person.
- Make yourself easy to remember. When you enter the room, there will most likely be a nametag available, either preprinted or for you to fill out. Use it. Place it on your right side, below your shoulder, for an easy way to reinforce your name after an introduction. Your eyes naturally follow the line of sight of a handshake and glancing at someone's nametag is less noticeable when worn correctly. Say your first and last name when you introduce yourself. Emphasize a difficult name to pronounce by speaking slow and deliberate, acknowledging that it's a "mouthful" with a smile.
- Practice your handshake. A handshake can be a relationship maker or deal breaker. If you give a light, finger grab, you seem demure and timid. A bone crunching squeeze sends an anxious, or bullying message. A firm, but not too forced grip communicates that you are composed and self-assured. Wait until you are an arm's length away and then extend your hand...first. Allow your entire arm to reach forward, index finger to pinky straight out, thumb up, with the the fold of skin between your index finger and thumb making contact with the other person's indented fold. Then, firmly wrap your remaining fingers around the other person's hand.
- Skip the sales pitch. You are not invited to a party or function to close a deal. At a social event, you wouldn't hand out a business card, unless asked, and even then, very discreetly. When attending a business function, a friendly conversation is favorable to a hard sell. As the conversation comes to a close, offer a business card and request a follow-up meeting in the near future.
- Keep moving. Avoid monopolizing other people's time with your personal stories. Ask thoughtful questions and listen for cues as to what they are interested in talking about. For example, you might say something like, "You mentioned you just returned from Europe. Do you travel a great deal with your company?" This gives the person an opportunity to talk about themselves and allows you to listen for further prompts for meaningful conversation. After 5 to 10 minutes, close the conversation so that each of you may continue to mix and mingle. It's better to leave on a high note than wait until the conversation begins to lag.
- Shake hands over a table or desk.
- Wait for the other person to extend their hand first.
- Give a double fisted shake to someone you are meeting for the first time.
- Stay seated because you are a woman.