There’s an element of ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ here. Smile when you first meet someone and look him or her in the eye. Even if you don’t feel it, your smile and eye contact will show the other person you are friendly and confident.
Be aware of your body language.
Be aware of good posture; stand straight with your shoulders back. Don’t fidget with pens or your clothing – keep your hands by your side if you are someone who constantly fidgets. A smile, combined with good posture will boost your confidence.
Introduce yourself first.
Rather than stand alone, be brave. Walk up to an individual, or a group, extend your hand and say, “Hi my name is Neen James, nice to meet you”. Everyone will respond positively to your confidence and appreciate you making the first move. It will be a trigger for others to do the same.
This is an important skill; if you don’t know how to shake hands properly, learn. Some women, particularly those who haven’t been required to do it in business, can lack confidence with their handshake. It’s important. Cultivate a firm handshake – not too hard, but just right. Look the person in the eye when you shake their hand and say their name out loud: “Hi Robyn, it’s nice to meet you”. If you are unsure about shaking hands with someone, always extend your hand first. It is rude to not shake the hand of someone who offers theirs to you.
Learn how to pronounce their name.
When you encounter someone with a difficult to pronounce name, ask him or her to repeat it, spell it and say it again – and allow him or her to correct your pronunciation so you get it right. People will appreciate you taking the time to learn how to say their name properly.
Use a person’s name several times when you first meet.
This will help you to remember their name, it’s a very personal way to communicate – and, people love the sound of their own name!
Learn conversational skills.
The ability to make conversation is what scares so many people about new social interactions, here a few questions you can ask anyone you meet for the first time:
- What do you do?
- Where do you work?
- Where do you live?
- Does it take you long to get from home to the office?
- What inspires you?
- What do you like read?
- What has been your most valuable business lesson?
Ask people what they like to do in their spare time.
This is a great question and most people become energised when you ask them about their life outside of work. Watch their eyes sparkle as they tell you about the activities they most enjoy. Take the time to discover that people are far more interesting than their work.
If you meet someone with an accent, ask where he or she is from.
Find out something interesting about their country by asking:
- Where are you from?
- How often do you go to visit?
- What do you miss most about that place?
- Who is someone famous from there?
- What food is that country famous for?
If you are at an industry or charity event, ask how they heard about the event.
It’s a great icebreaker and allows you both to share stories of how you came to be at the event and what you hope to achieve by attending.
Give the person you are speaking with your full attention. Use active listening techniques such as nodding, smiling and leaning towards them while they speak. Ask questions about the topics you are discussing. People will appreciate your attention. It is very rude to look beyond the person you are speaking with or to look around the room for someone more interesting. Effective networking can help you to maximise your productivity.
You can master networking by choosing how you invest your time and energy.
Choose your networks wisely, be prepared with business cards, follow up after every event, be engaging when you meet people…and have fun!
Rather than stand alone, be brave.
Walk up to an individual, or a group, extend your hand and say, “Hi my name is Neen James, nice to meet you”. Everyone will respond positively to your confidence and appreciate you making the first move. It will be a trigger for others to do the same.
About Neen James
Neen James, MBA CSP, is the President/CEO of Neen James Communications, LLC. An international productivity expert and native born Aussie, Neen delivers engaging keynotes that have educated, and entertained audiences with real-world strategies that apply in all roles, whether at work or in life. Neen also provides one-on-one consulting and mentoring to women on a variety of business issues and topics. To find out more about Neen, visit her at http://www.neenjames.com/.