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The way that a businessperson introduces himself or herself for the first time can leave a favorable or unfavorable impression long after the moment has passed. It often requires drawing a fine line between two extremes of behavior. For example, there is nothing wrong with showing excitement about having joined a work team.
However, coming across as too in-your-face about changing things can put others off. Below are some best practices for how business professionals should introduce themselves in person, over the telephone, and by email.
The way that business professionals introduce themselves in person depends largely on the situation. The person doing the introductions should know enough about the situation and the other person he or she will meet before the interaction takes place. This makes it easier to tailor the introduction to the situation.
Regardless of who the businessperson is meeting, he or she should make eye contact with the other person, smile, and offer a handshake. If known, it’s appropriate for the business professional to use the other person’s name. He or she could start the introduction by saying hello, calling the person by name, stating the name of the represented employer, and using a single sentence to describe the reason for being there.
Besides smiling and making eye contact, a firm handshake is a must when meeting another business professional for the first time in person. It should not be so hard that is squeezes the other person’s hand and causes discomfort, but it also can’t be so weak that it portrays a lack of confidence. Speaking clearly at a normal tone of voice is also critical both in person and over the phone.
As is customary in American business settings, be sure to give the other person enough personal space so he or she does not feel uncomfortable within seconds of the introduction. After the initial handshake, a comfortable distance is approximately four to six feet apart.
Because a phone call can be an interruption in a person’s day, it’s best to get to the point right away. The caller should offer his or her name, company name, and reason for the call immediately after the other person answers the phone.
Before going any further, it’s good manners to ask if the person has time to talk now or if another time would be better. If the person receiving the call is currently busy, the caller should schedule a phone call for a time when it is more convenient for him or her to talk. The caller must be on time with that second call or risk leaving a poor lasting impression.
Introductions by Email or Another Form of Writing
This can be the ideal way to introduce oneself since it gives the writer more time to prepare what to say. If the introduction is by email, he or she can also include links to information relevant to the recipient. It is always a good idea to name a person that both parties know if that person gave the sender the contact information of the recipient. That helps to legitimize the connection in the recipient’s mind.
As with other forms of introduction, stating name, company name, and reason for contacting the person is a good business practice. Lastly, the person sending the email or letter should always review it for spelling, typos, or grammatical errors.
How to Make Introductions and First Meetings More Memorable
While an introduction might only last for seconds, the businessperson may be meeting with someone he or she has only just met now. This can be either a memorable or forgettable experience for the other parties depending on the actions of the business professional.
For example, introducing oneself with information that the other party could have gleaned from a business card isn’t likely to make much of an impression. Instead, it’s better for those introducing themselves for the first time to explain why they are there in the first place.
Beyond the person’s name, the people receiving the introduction might not even care about his or her credentials. They want to know what this person will do for them and why it will be better than what anyone else could do.
You have to understand that people can’t make objective decisions all the time because they use their cognitive bias. They make judgments based on their needs instead of the objectivity of one’s credentials. In other words, they only work within things they know from experience.
If they can’t relate to one’s credentials, especially if they have no relation to the business at hand, then there’s no point in mentioning them.
Therefore, if you want to get into the good side of the person at work, you need to talk about things that matter to him or her. What’s ultimately important is to engage them in a discussion that grabs their interest.
Tips for stronger telephone and email introductions in sales
The purpose of sending an initial email or making a phone call to a sales prospect is to capture that person’s attention.
The interaction will go nowhere without that crucial first step. Only those who get past it will be able to inspire interest and desire for the product or service and prompt the other party to complete a specific action.
An email sent to a prospect by a sales professional introducing himself or herself and talking only about accomplishments has a high likelihood of going to the electronic trash file without that person ever opening it.
The reason is that it’s focused on the salesperson and not the prospect. The only thing people receiving these calls or emails truly cares about is what the person on the other end of the phone or computer can do for them. With that in mind, here are some weak introductions followed by some stronger ones:
- “How are you?” is a weak opening statement since it doesn’t accomplish anything. A much stronger introduction starts with thanking the caller for taking the call and then immediately stating the purpose for it.
- A weak introduction apologizes for interrupting the other person while a strong one plays to their sense of wanting to be helpful by starting the conversation asking for a favor.
- Replace the vague “I’m just checking in” with the much stronger “I’m calling you today because…”
Introductions matter. It’s always worth a businessperson’s time to ask for feedback on how he or she comes across to others and then work to make a more favorable first impression.