Posts

Ace Proper Introductions with the Best Kept Insights

If you’re serious about building your personal brand, learning to ace proper introductions is a must. Elevating someone else’s profile is a win-win situation. Here’s how to do it well!

First, let’s get on the same page. When I stress the importance of learning how to do proper introductions, I don’t just refer to etiquette. Which of course, we’ll cover here in a minute. I’m also referring to learning what to say about the people you’re introducing.

Way too often people miss a prime opportunity to look good by making others shine. It’s such a gracious thing to do that it has always puzzled me that so few people know how to do it well. One occasion to make others look great is when you introduce them. Whether it is during the introduction of a speaker at a large conference, an individual contributor at an internal meeting, or a colleague at a cocktail party, by conducting proper introductions you stand out as a powerful professional and a great connector.

Always know what to say about others in order to make not only the proper introductions but memorable introductions.

Always know what to say about others in order to make not only the proper introductions but memorable introductions.

The etiquette of proper introductions

So let’s get the protocol down first and focus on what to say about the people you introduce later.

1After you name the person with higher hierarchy in the conversation, the person considered of lower rank or social hierarchy should be introduced to the person of higher rank. Meaning: Introduce the younger analyst to the senior executive. The proper introduction would be: “Mrs. Peters, let me introduce to you Martin Smith, one of our brilliant analysts. Martin, this is Mrs. Alice Peters, our Senior Vice President of Marketing.”

2A work colleague should be introduced to a client: “Julia, let me introduce you to Margaret Thomson, one of the most brilliant marketers in our company. Margaret, as you know, Julia Rodríguez is our largest distributor in the Midwest.”

3Introduce your newest acquaintance to someone you know better. When introducing colleagues at an informal occasion, name first the colleague you met most recently (or are less familiar with.) “Johanna, let me introduce you to Glen Williams. He’s new at our firm and could use some friends. Glen, Johanna Gómez has been a great mentor of mine for most of my career.” If you forgot the name of your latest acquaintance, you can look at them as you are making the introduction and say: “Sorry, what was your full name again?”

4If they are of similar hierarchy, introduce men to women as a sign of deference. “John, let me introduce you to Sonia.”

5In a social context, younger people are introduced to older people. Your boyfriend to your aunt. “Aunt Letty, let me introduce you to John, my boyfriend. John, this is my mother’s sister, aunt Letty.”

6Also in a social setting, it’s a sign of proper introduction to present your friends to your family. Here, your family has “higher hierarchy” than your friends.

And just a note: When you are at a social gathering, wait for an opening before you make your introduction. It’s best to avoid interrupting someone who is engaged in conversation as they won’t be as receptive.

Make it your business to know what to say about others to make them interesting to those to whom you're introducing them.

Make it your business to know what to say about others to make them interesting to those to whom you’re introducing them.

What to say about the people you are introducing

Now that we’ve covered the etiquette around proper introductions, let’s focus on the important task of what to say about those you are introducing. Keep in mind that even though the stated purpose of the introduction is for two people to meet or for a group of people to learn something about a speaker before he/she presents, there are many benefits of being introduced rather than introducing yourself.

  • It’s easier for others to compliment your performance, speak of your reputation or put you on a pedestal than for you to do it yourself.
  • It conveys immediate credibility.
  • It conveys authority.

As the situations can vary widely, here are three tips that apply to the majority of cases.

1Learn as much as you can about the person you are introducing to someone of higher hierarchy. Then phrase it in a way that underscores their unique contributions. “Alice, this is Keisha Lawrence, the engineer who came up with the solution to avoid the delay in our product launch. I know we are all grateful that we launched on time, but I thought you’d like to meet the person who made it possible. Keisha, Alice is our Senior VP. She’s been a champion of this product from the beginning.”

2Express the common ground. As you’re hopefully introducing two people so they can carry out a conversation without further intervention on your part, make sure to mention the reason you think they should connect. It could relate to work, hobbies, shared experiences or people they know in common. “Tom, meet Lisa Jenkins, the head of HR at Acme Inc. She’s looking for a new D&I program and I told her about the success you’ve been having with the latest initiative you brought to your organization. Lisa, this is Tom Collins, VP of HR at XYC Corp.”

3When introducing speakers, highlight a few amazing accomplishments. Express how honored you are that they’re presenting for this particular audience. Quite often, event organizers let timing constraints interfere with proper presentations. They skip through them with phrases like: “Well, I’ll let Tim introduce himself.” Or “I’m only going to say a few things because I know you want to hear Carolina speak and not me.”

Read about my story as a Latina speaker here.

Don’t fool yourself. This reeks of lack of preparation. It reflects poorly on you and it puts your speaker in an awkward situation. Why? Because one of the benefits of a proper introduction is that it conveys authority. It leaves a fertile terrain for the speaker to present their content from a place of inherent trust. Do it properly and you make their job much easier. As a result, the speaker will be grateful and your colleagues will want to be on the receiving end of one of your future introductions.

Without a doubt conducting proper introductions is a unique chance to show your leadership while shining the light on others. Now it’s your turn to put these insights into practice. So, who will you introduce next?

3 Networking Strategies Shy Professionals Can’t Miss

No matter how you slice it, your career health depends on your relationships. Here are three powerful networking strategies that work even if you’re shy!

A lot has been written about developing your network. But if our monthly Step Up Plus coaching sessions are any indication, this continues to be an activity most of us could learn a bit more about.

One of the most effective networking strategies: find ways to support the people in your network!

One of the most effective networking strategies: find ways to support the people in your network!

Steal these Networking strategies

I’ll keep it short, sweet and to the point. Let’s look at three particularly effective networking strategies you can start implementing right away.

1Be the organizer

No doubt, this is one of my favorite networking strategies. Nothing beats the opportunities to expand your network like being the organizer of anything. Think about it. Just for starters: The organizer manages the agenda, the guest list, and the communications. Three great touch points for networking. So whenever in doubt, organize. Conferences, webinars, workshops, after-hours, small get-togethers where you can introduce people to people, anything of value. And if you are shy or introverted, partner with a colleague who’s more outgoing or extroverted. You can divide the activities and conquer.

The day of the event, it’s always easier to network alongside another person who knows you well. You can take turns to introduce each other and to highlight the other person’s virtues. In this case, not only would you have your co-conspirator with you, but also people will approach you, as you will be their hostess. This makes it easier to meet people. It saves you from having to approach them yourself.

Among the best networking strategies you can practice is to be on the organization side of things.

Among the best networking strategies you can practice is to be on the organization side of things.

2Make yourself useful

Whenever I’m invited to a party or to an event where I don’t know many people I find my way to the kitchen or any other “behind the scenes” area to offer my help. When I’m more engaged with the organizers of the party or event I feel less anxious about not knowing anyone there. It’s easy to make friends when you’re helping out. The secret is to do it tactfully so your host feels grateful for the extra pair of hands rather than annoyed that you’re overstepping. For this networking strategy to really work, you can’t just make a general offer such as: “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Because most people will respond with: “Thanks, but we have everything under control.”

My approach is to identify the people who are actually busy preparing, guiding guests to the coatroom, setting up any event materials, and clearly say: “Give me something to do.” Or, “tell me what I can do to help.”

Being on the helping side of things has many advantages:

  • Exposure: It’s easier for others to notice and remember you.
  • People get to know you as you’re working alongside them.
  • Playing a role takes away from standing awkwardly waiting to “meet” people.
  • It gives you an excuse to talk to strangers: “Are you looking for the coatroom? Let me show you were it is. By the way I’m so and so, nice to meet you.”

Here’s the caveat: Don’t become “the help” in the way in which often the help is invisible. Use this role as a chance to meet others reducing the stress that you may feel in these situations.

A great example of this took place in Argentina a few months ago. We invited Nathalie Stevens, the founder of La Fundación de los Colores (an NGO that trains women in vulnerable neighborhoods to do professional make-up,) to join us at an event we were doing at Universidad Austral. Rather than coming on her own, Nathalie asked if she could bring three of her women to do our team’s makeup. They had a chance to become acquainted with the Red Shoe Movement team, we introduced them to journalists and key contacts, and they interacted with others at the event from a completely different place than they would have, had they just attended as participants.

We invited la Fundación de Los Colores to one of our events. Instead of just attending they asked if they could do our makeup. Making yourself useful is a great networking strategy.

We invited la Fundación de Los Colores in Argentina to one of our events. Instead of just attending they asked if they could do our makeup. Making yourself useful is a great networking strategy. https://www.facebook.com/lafundaciondeloscolores/

3Amplify others’ agendas

Not your traditional networking strategy, but one that proves infallible and that you can carry out regardless of how shy you are. You do have to be active in social media, though.

This is how it works:

  • Identify the people you’d like to actively network with.
  • Start interacting with them via social media by amplifying their messages, and commenting and sharing their posts. Be careful not to cross the line and become a stalker. 🙂
  • If you have a chance to help them, do. Whether it is by introducing them to someone useful, bringing them as panelists to one of your company’s events, etc.

It doesn’t really take much to be noticed by someone who you’re helping them. As long as you remain professional, it won’t be long before you can establish a connection that can easily be moved into the real world. If that’s what you want.

Here’s the caveat for this networking strategy to work: Even though you’re approaching someone via social media, it doesn’t mean you can skip the natural steps you’d take to build an in-person relationship. Build trust before you expect anything else. And always be the first one to offer help.

Sharing via social media a presenter's slides supports their agenda by amplifying their work. It's hard not to get noticed when you're helping someone.

Sharing via social media a presenter’s slides supports their agenda by amplifying their work. It’s hard not to get noticed when you’re helping someone.

Now go out and practice these networking strategies in real life. I’ll be waiting to hear how you do. And if you have some amazing tips, please share them here!

 

Networking for Business: A Year-Round Sport

If you only conceive networking for business as mingling among similarly dressed professionals with a pocketful of business cards and a drink in hand, think again.

Why? First, because if you’re like many women you may not have enough time to attend all the networking for business events out there. Second, because you may not enjoy them that much. Third, because they are usually not the best way to network. Networking for business shouldn’t be about collecting as many cards as possible in a stiff business setting. Instead, it should be about making truly meaningful and beneficial personal connections, something that you can do nearly anywhere.

Networking for business can take place in formal or informal settings.

Networking for business can take place in formal or informal settings. Photo taken at RSM Signature Event

Practice it every day at work

If you are still buying into the idea that women who work full time are still mostly responsible for their family and home, it’s very likely that you’ve decided to cut out networking for business from your life. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day. Something’s got to give. But this a bad decision for your career because people offer opportunities to people they know and trust. If you are not someone who spends time with your colleagues, bosses and potential new supervisors, they won’t know you well enough to offer you those great assignments.

Take every opportunity to socialize with people at work to develop strong, trusting relationships.

Take every opportunity to socialize with people at work to develop strong, trusting relationships. Photo taken at RSM Signature Event

So, get used to lifting your head from your work, walking to the office next door or to the cubicle on the other side of the room. Say hello, chit-chat, find out how everyone’s doing. A few times a week bring your food to the general cafeteria area and eat with a friend or two. Join the group for an after-hours a few times a month. In other words, networking for business should happen effortlessly, every day at your place of work.

You may want to read about how to strike the right tone when talking about yourself.

Networking for Business 2.0

Now, back to the idea of networking for business at large events. The truth is that professionals in your field don’t only attend industry meetings and seminars. They shop, they travel, and they take their kids to many different activities. If you keep an open mind, you will always be ready to connect with people around you regardless of where you are. Networking for business can be done anywhere, and that’s the beauty of it. Once you master the art to connect with others, you can keep it going 24/7. Consider the following places:

  • Coffee shops
  • Airports
  • Train stations
  • Your child’s school
  • Hair salon
  • Gym
  • Grocery line
  • House of worship

Networking for business starts with a conversation

Building contacts in an organic way is not that hard. By remaining honestly interested in the other person, you can strike natural conversations, just as you would with any potential friend. Using appropriate small talk is generally a good way to go. Here are a few tips to help you start the conversation and keep it going:

  • Talk about your mutual interests (i.e. your children if you meet at a sporting event), your commute if you are waiting on the train, or the food if you meet at a food line during a wedding.
  • Ask open ended questions that provide insights into the other person’s interests, likes, dislikes, etc.
  • Talk about what your own interests and passions.
  • Look for common professional and personal interests.
  • Talk about your work and what you love about it.
  • Discuss meeting for coffee or exchanging emails.
Networking for business starts with a conversation. You can have it anywhere, anytime. Photo taken at RSM Signature Event.

Networking for business starts with a conversation. You can have it anywhere, anytime. Photo taken at RSM Signature Event.

Of course, you are less likely to meet someone who works in your field when you are simply striking up conversations with strangers than if you meet them at an event specifically designed to carry out networking for business. But, the people you meet out in the world can add significant value to your personal and professional life.

Meeting a make up artist, for instance, could help you strengthen your personal appearance, someone who works in the banking sector could put you in touch with a small business loan officer, etc. Besides, hearing what others outside of your sector do, how they solve problems, how they gain market share, and so on, allows you to bring fresh ideas to your own workplace.

Asking for feedback is a great way to improve upon your networking for business skills.
Set up some time to network every week.

Set up some time to network every week. Photo taken at RSM Signature Event.

Be Generous

As with any other kind of relationship building, networking for business is all about creating a mutually rewarding relationship. So before you ever think about how your new connection might benefit you, think of how you could be of help to your new acquaintance. What could you offer this new contact that is unique and helpful? Do you know information they could use? Do you have a specific connections you could introduce them to? Could you volunteer for a particular cause they support? Offering to help before anyone offers to help you will send a clear message about your generosity and your commitment to this new relationship. If you keep this principle at the heart of all your networking for business you will always come out ahead.

Be generous with all your relationships. Always figure out how you can be of help to your new connections.

Be generous with all your relationships. Always figure out how you can be of help to your new connections.

Nothing Happens if You Don’t Follow Up

One key habit of good networking for business is to follow up. Send whatever it is you promised to send, or do whatever you promised you would do. This is one of the areas where lots of people fall flat, lose credibility and see doors close. True, not everyone you meet will evolve into a real relationship. Very often people seem interested at the time you meet them and then they won’t reply to your follow up calls or emails. Remain perceptive so that you can drop them if theres’ no mutual interest. But let it not be you the one who fails to follow up when you promised to do so.

A powerful network is without a doubt one of the most valuable assets you can develop if you want to take your career to the next level. Start practicing networking for business as an ongoing activity rather than one you only do when you are at annual conference, and you’ll see your network grow exponentially. And your opportunities along with it!

 

The super easy strategy that will expand your network of contacts

The super easy strategy that will expand your network of contactsShe’s only 25 years old, but her ability to build professional relationships is enviable. What for some people requires a superhuman effort, for Veronica is almost second-nature. She’s open, projects a possessed self-assurance, and, above all, she has a powerful weapon: She loves to ask questions! That’s just her nature, but asking questions is an invaluable tool for anyone who needs to expand their network of professional contacts.

I met Veronica recently when she participated in one of my online seminars about mentors and networking. During the break, she bombarded me with questions ranging from what inspired me to write my last book and how I got the idea to start Latinos in College, to what I thought of her idea to start a nonprofit organization to help women in aviation. As it’s often the case with anyone who takes an interest in us, her curiosity about my experience and her eagerness to hear my opinions made her very interesting to me and in turn motivated me to ask her about her goals, her plans, and her dreams.

We Latinas tend to be naturally more extroverted and sociable. After all, we come from a part of the world where people don’t get anywhere career-wise if they don’t already know someone in the right place. So take advantage or your social “genes” to expand your professional network, by using Veronica’s strategy: Next time you’re at an event, play the role of a curious journalist. To maximize your effectiveness, research your “interview subject” a bit before approaching them (for example, if you’re going to hear the presentation of someone who interests you, look them up on Google to find out what relevant questions you should be asking).

And if you’re shy, this is the perfect technique to get you out of your little corner, because it will allow you to widen your network without putting you in the position of having to talk about yourself to strangers.

Try this strategy, and tell me how it goes!

Image via Thinkstock

This article was originally published on Mamas Latinas.