How to meet & greet at functions

When you have decided to attend an event or join a network, another important skill is knowing how to engage people when you first meet them. Meeting new people and making conversation can be daunting, but with a few simple techniques you’ll become more and more comfortable with each new event.

Appear confident.

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.

Shake hands.

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.

Listen intently.

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.


Posted in For Networking, How To Articles, Verified on November 25, 2011 by Neen James.

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6 Comments to “How to meet & greet at functions”

  • kelly says:

    I am interested in learning how to get out there and grab new clients… I am new to sales and I need to get out there fast and bring in some new accounts please help me!!!


    • NeenJames says:

      Kelly – the best way to get out there and get more sales is exactly that… may we suggest you pick two networking events this month in your target area and decide what you need to do to prepare, do your research and schedule time for follow up after the event.

      There are no tricks for sales and it is always about relationships – some sales are slow. I remember one account I spoke to for 8 months (every month I had coffee with decision makers) and when they finally said yes they became a great client. I also know of colleagues who have spoken to someone for 7 years before they became clients. I’m not sure there is a fast solution, however when people like you – they will want to do business with you. People do business with those they know, like and trust! Good luck

  • Given ledwaba says:

    hi Neen
    we are having a year end function at work and I am being asked to do the introduction for the event. I just don’t know how and what to say when doing this introduction thing. I am a senior supervisor at site and our seniors managers will be attending from our head office. It is a very challenging platform for me because I have never done this before…again it seems like I will also be directing the programme. please assist me in how to handle this?

    • NeenJames says:

      If you are going to be the emcee of the event that is a great role and a fun responsibility. The key to being an emcee is to create an environment that is good for everyone and focus on your speakers and staying on time. When introducing someone it is great to share a few facts about their professional career and one or two personal facts can be beneficial for the audience too. Ask the person who you are introducing if they have a particular introduction they would like you to use and then keep it short and make sure you read it several times to be familiar with pronounciation and accuracy. I hope that helps.. oh and relax, have fun, it’s an honor to do this role. Let me know if I can help you more.

  • Phuong Tam says:

    Hi, I do not grow up in the US but rather came when I was in my mid 20s. I found hard to network when I don’t have much (such as music, sports, or anything related to US culture) to say, ask or share when I meet new people. Therefore, I usually feel awkward after a few basic greetings and introduction. Any tips and advice what else I can do to keep it going? 🙂

    • Neen James says:

      thanks for your comment, you might like to go with a few good questions that help move the conversation along ie. How did you hear about this event? What do you hope to learn from our speaker tonight/today? What books are you reading right now that you recommend? Approach every conversation with confidence that you belong and that people want to meet you. Look people in the eye, listen to their responses and be interested in them. Make a list of questions you can ask before you arrive and then test them out – is that helpful?

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