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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!

 

Expand Your Network Effortlessly with 5 Winning Strategies

If you ask me, “expand your network” is the one answer that applies to most questions regarding career success. Why? Because as social beings we base our decisions on emotions. So, people tend to offer opportunities to those in their networks that they know and trust. Consequently, the faster you expand yours the faster you you’ll fulfill your objectives.

This is true whether you want a promotion, find a new job, get paid more for your current position, change careers, launch an innovative product, and for tons of other situations related to your career growth. So let’s get started.

Networking is how you live and work. It's not something you do "after hours."

Networking is how you live and work. It’s not something you do “after hours.”

Expand your network effortlessly

It’s a fact that many women have little or no time for networking for business. They are overstretched with a full workload, family life and personal interests. I’m not here to propose that you somehow carve some additional time to expand your network. No. What I’m going to suggest is that you network strategically and learn to make the most of every opportunity you have to create and solidify your relationships. Think about it like reading a book while on the treadmill. Are you taking extra time to sit and read? No, but you are enjoying your book while getting your workout done

1Follow your love

Last year, I walked into Tatyana, a clothing store in Lower Manhattan with designs inspired in the Pin-up girls of 1940s and 50s. I fell in love with a shoe line they carried and immediately looked it up when I got home. The shoe company was Lola Ramona, a Danish brand with a girly personality and sense of humor. I read all about the company and the brand. It aligned so well with the philosophy of the Red Shoe Movement…. I ordered a pair of shoes and then connected with the company’s CEO on Linkedin. I sent her a note where I shared my love for her shoe line and suggested that perhaps we could do something together.

To expand your network do Gitte Sandquist of Lola Ramona and Mariela Dabbah of the Red Shoe Movement did. Follow your love.

Magic happens when you follow your love and contact people you feel an alignment with. It makes it easier to expand your network organically.

A few days later Gitte Sandquist and I had a Skype call. What happened was like magic. We clicked right away and decided to partner together. And we’ve been doing some amazing things since that call almost a year ago. We finally met in person a few weeks ago and had our first joint event in Copenhagen. This is what I mean when I say “follow your love” to expand your network. Lola Ramona’s shoes spoke to me. Their mix of femininity, boldness and whimsy reflected my inner red shoe. I don’t think about this as networking for business or spending time outside my normal activities.

This is not the first time that I follow my gut and pursue an idea that may sound crazy to others. That I contact someone out of the blue to suggest that we explore doing something together.  And seven or eight times out of ten I get great results. So why not take the chance?

A few situations where you should approach people to expand your network using this rule include:

  • You hear someone present at a conference whose message resonates with you.
  • You identify a leader in your organization that you admire.
  • You read about someone doing something you’d like to do but don’t know how.
  • You are inspired by a Ted talk and realize you can help expand the idea presented by the speaker.
  • You are intrigued by some new research or article you read.

2Wherever two people eat, three people eat

Granted, this sentence may make no sense to you. It’s an almost literal translation of a popular Spanish saying used in my home when I was growing up. (Donde comen dos, comen tres.) The message was that whenever someone unexpected dropped for a meal, there was always enough food to share with that person. I offer this saying to you as an invitation to expand your network through a generosity of spirit.

Share coffee with more than one person at a time to expand your network effortlessly.

Share coffee with more than one person at a time to expand your network effortlessly.

If you plan on having lunch with one person from the office, deliberately think who else you could invite to join you. Who would you like to get to know a little bit better? Who is doing something interesting, different? Who could you help feel more welcomed in your organization? Make it a rule that you eat with at least three people twice a week and you’ll see how your network expands effortlessly.

3Time well your comings and goings

Most people have a routine. They come around the same time, take breaks and lunch about the same time and if they use the gym facilities at the office, they also tend to do it on a certain schedule. So why not time your routine to coincide with people you’d like to get to know better? Nobody said that networking implies spending one hour with someone over drinks. That’s nice, and you can develop good, lasting relationships when people put their guards down.

There are many opportunities throughout the day when you can connect with others as you all move around and take breaks. Small talk is the glue that helps build relationships and expand your network organically.

There are many opportunities throughout the day when you can connect with others as you all move around and take breaks. Small talk is the glue that helps build relationships and expand your network organically.

But brief, inane chitchat is the very basis of human connection. Things like cheer each other during a challenging exercise routine or laughing under a shared umbrella can be as bonding. So, don’t go on the elevator alone and most definitely, don’t sit at lunch by yourself if there are tables occupied by other people. Always choose the most crowded table at your company’s cafeteria to set down your lunch.

4Visit others

I know you think you have so much to do and so little time. But guess what? Working hard is only the first step to get to the next level. So first, breathe. Remember that networking is an integral part of any job description. (Even when it’s the unwritten part.) The better you know your colleagues, the better you work with them. Now, leave that pile of work on your desk and take your coffee cup to the next- door cubicle. Ask your neighbor about their day, their family, their new yoga practice. Show genuine interest on the people you work with, and with those you would like to work with. Because to obtain greater opportunities you must expand your network way beyond your current colleagues and bosses.

5Resurrect the old art of a face to face conversation

Forget emailing and texting to resolve some important issues. Arrange to meet people face to face for a few minutes. It will make wonders to help you expand your network and resolve any conflicts quickly.

Forget emailing and texting to resolve some important issues. Arrange to meet people face to face for a few minutes. It will make wonders to help you expand your network and resolve any conflicts quickly.

Call me old-fashion but nothing beats a face-to-face conversation for cementing relationships. Forget email, texting or Whatsapping. Emoticons aside, nothing comes even close. Not even the avatar that looks like you. (And I have one of those!)

If you want to seriously increase your contact base, find occasions to meet in person to discuss projects you’re working on together. Even when these issues could be resolved via email, make a decision to see the person for ten minutes. You’ll be surprised how productive a ten minute in-person meeting can be and how many more ideas you both come up with.

I mentioned earlier that magic happened when Gitte of Lola Ramona and I met on Skype that first time. But you know what? A lot more magic happened when we met in person and spent a few hours over several days understanding each other’s motivations, individual purposes and business goals. I’m going to make a wild guess and predict the same will happen to you if you take the time to turn an email exchange into a face-to-face encounter.

 

 

After connecting via Linkedin with Lola Ramona's CEO, not only did we start working together but we had our first event in Copenhagen together!

After connecting via Linkedin with Lola Ramona’s CEO, not only did we start working together but we had our first event in Copenhagen together!

All the secrets in the world to expand your network won’t make a difference to you if you keep thinking networking is something you do above and beyond living and working. Networking is how you live and work. Do you do it alone? Or do you build relationships along the way?

And if you’re really ready to expand your network, consider signing up for the Step Up Program where a community of women  help each other succeed professionally!