Like any metallic color, copper can bring pizzazz into a room. But it can also make a space cozy, according to Ashley Banbury, interior designer and senior color designer at Dutch Boy. "Shades of copper are a great way to add warmth to a room," she says. "Copper can create an unexpected elegance or a rustic...
Introducing yourself seems simple enough. After all, you’ve done so since childhood. But in the professional sphere, introducing yourself takes on added importance.
Just as your resume makes an important first impression, so does the way you introduce yourself to a new business contact. This is true whether you’re at a networking event, a job interview, or making a casual encounter.
Learn how to introduce yourself in a professional manner – in casual settings, at places of business, networking events, job interviews, and via phone or email. Remember, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. With the help of the following do’s and don’t’s, one opportunity is all you’ll ever need.
How to Introduce Yourself Professionally – And How Not to Introduce Yourself
First, let’s talk about the things you shouldn’t do when first introducing yourself.
- Don’t try to be funny.
- Don’t say things that are irrelevant to the context of the situation.
- Think about the cultural context of the situation; if you’re speaking to an international audience don’t say anything that could be misunderstood or cause offense.
Why would the above be inappropriate? First, not everyone has the same sense of humor. What’s humorous to one person might be downright offensive to another. It’s better to avoid cracking jokes until you know a person better.
Second, mentioning your favorite food or that you’re a crazy cat lady (or plant lady, or whatever) may be funny to some listeners, but others may feel that you’re out of touch with the situation. They may even doubt your intelligence. And that’s not a good way to start a business relationship.
Now that we’ve outlined what not to do, you may be wondering: How should I introduce myself?
Try this simple formula:
- State your name.
- State your job title.
- Briefly describe your role or abilities.
- Listen to the other person.
So, a good professional introduction might sound something like this (you can fill in the blanks):
“Hi, my name is [name], and I’m a [job title]. My job is to…and I do a lot of…”
Notice that your statements should go beyond just listing your job title. Be brief, but describe what your job is really about in one or two sentences. If there’s something really unique about your responsibilities, mention it.
One way to do this is by explaining how you are the solution to a problem. You can say, “I help clients to… by…” or “My job is to [reduce expenses by…/research options for…/help clients find solutions to…]”
Remember that relevance is the key. And what is relevant will change from one situation to the next.
For example, think back to the bad examples we mentioned at the outset. If you’re applying to a role as a comedic actor, making a joke might be just the thing to do. Your favorite food might be relevant in the culinary industry. Or, your interest in cats or plants might fit right in if you’re applying to a veterinary clinic or a plant nursery, respectively.
Tip: If you’re having trouble thinking of original-sounding ways of describing what you do, ask your friends or family members for input. They may see things in a different light, and offer suggestions that you can use.
In any event, don’t forget to smile! Your smile communicates confidence and calmness. A pleasant smile can even lift the mood of the person you are talking to.
Finally, listen – really listen – to whatever the other person has to say in response. Communication is a two-way street. Your introduction will be meaningless if you dominate or ignore the remainder of the conversation.
How to Introduce Yourself in Person
There are a number of settings in which you might introduce yourself in person. Your introduction will differ slightly in each situation, but should still follow the formula discussed above.
How to Introduce Yourself in a Casual Setting
Chance encounters can lead to opportunities for business networking. It might happen at a party, a restaurant, a city street, or somewhere else.
Allow the conversation to flow naturally as you give your name and what you do. You might prompt the other person to reciprocate by asking what they do for work.
Again, remember that context is everything. Announcing your job title right off might not be appropriate at the dog park or at a children’s birthday party.
How to Introduce Yourself at a Place of Business
Did you know that you can introduce yourself in person after applying for a job online? You can stop by the office or place of business and introduce yourself in this way:
“Hi, my name is… I’m really interested in the position of…”
Likely, the receptionist or another individual will tell you that you can apply online. Then you can say:
“I’ve already done that. I just wanted to let you know how excited I am for the opportunity to become part of your team.” If you have any questions about the company or position, this is a good time to ask. If appropriate to the business (such as a factory or other large facility), ask if they offer tours. Leave your contact information, and make note of the name of the person you spoke with.
Some resources recommend dropping in weekly until you get the job or are informed that the position has been filled.
If you’re set on working for a particular company, you can do something similar even if no suitable positions are currently available. Upon arrival, introduce yourself in this way:
“Hi, my name is… I’m interested in working with your company as part of the [department name] or as a [position title]. I wanted to inquire as to whether you had any openings.” You may be directed to the company’s online hiring platform, get the chance to talk to someone in HR or in the specified department, or you may simply be told that they’re not currently hiring. Either way, you can leave your contact information. In this way, you’ll be front of mind if a position does open up.
How to Introduce Yourself at a Networking Event
There are many different types of networking events – industry conferences, grand openings, power lunches and brunches, museum galas, and so much more. Today, some networking events even take place online via platforms like Zoom. How can you introduce yourself at such an event in a memorable yet unobtrusive way?
First, just be natural. Allow conversations to flow naturally without forcing them. If you’re standing around during a break or before the event starts, other attendees may walk up and introduce themselves. You can reply in kind.
Once you’ve stated your name and what you do, you might ask, “So what brings you to this conference?” Then, listen – really listen – to their response. Make eye contact and avoid casting your gaze behind them. That would signal that you don’t really care what they have to say.
Always bring business cards with you to an event. You don’t have to hand them out to everyone, nor should you. But if you meet someone that you wish to keep in touch with, casually say, “Here’s my card,” and hand it to them as the conversation begins to wane. You might be surprised at how many individuals even ask for your card before you offer it.
This works in reverse as well. Before handing off your card, you might say, “Do you have a card?” This will prompt the person to offer you a contact card and accept yours as well.
What if there is someone at the event that you especially desire to meet? A celebrity or business leader might be the center of attention. If possible, have a mutual acquaintance introduce you.
If no such acquaintance is available, look for an opening when the individual is not deeply engaged in conversation. You might begin your introduction with a brief compliment. For example, “Mr. [Name], I am glad to make your acquaintance. I was very impressed with how you… [site a professional accomplishment].”
Again, be brief. If the person seems busy or uninterested, it may be wise to excuse yourself. Or, you may be prompted to introduce yourself further.
Remember to always comport yourself with professional decorum. You’re a business professional, not a fan at Comicon – although meeting a professional role model can at times be just as exciting.
How to Introduce Yourself in an Interview
A job interview is all about introducing yourself. Your interviewer might ask you a question like, “Tell me about yourself,” or “How do you think your previous experience will translate to this position.” Ultimately, you’re being asked to introduce yourself in an expanded way.
First, find out as much as you can about the company to which you are applying. Read their mission and vision statements. Ask yourself, “What is the ultimate goal of the company? What is their culture like?” Then, think of ways you can demonstrate that you’re a good fit for the mission and culture already in place. Rehearse what you are going to say so that you’re not taken off guard. But make sure you don’t sound mechanical.
Next, think about your body language. Before you even say a word, your body language can reveal a lot about you. Do the following when you introduce yourself:
- Look the interviewer in the eye.
- If a handshake is appropriate, grasp the interviewer’s hand firmly to signal trust.
- Speak with a strong voice.
On the other hand, don’t do the following:
- Don’t sway from side to side while standing.
- Don’t fidget with your hands or feet.
- Don’t roll your eyes.
- Don’t cross your arms.
The above actions could inadvertently signal a lack of confidence, disrespect, or even hostility.
You might be asked, “What are you passionate about?” Again, think about this ahead of time. Think back to the company’s mission and culture, as discussed earlier. Frame your interests in such as way that they’re on par with the company’s values.
For example, imagine you’re applying to a company that makes organic snacks. Their culture centers on an eco-friendly, back-to-nature approach. How could you describe a passion in line with these values?
If it’s applicable to you, you might describe your struggles with a dietary restriction and how the product has helped you manage. Or, you could tell them about your apartment balcony garden that you grow because you’re concerned about pesticides and GMOs. It doesn’t have to be a “how I’d change the world” speech. You just need to mention something in your life – even a small thing – that aligns well with the company’s principles.
Finally, you want to make sure you end your introduction on a good note. Write a thank-you email to the interviewer. Thank him or her for their time. State what you’re excited about – whether that’s something you learned about the company during the interview or a challenge you think your skills can solve. Then, thank them again at the close of the email.
Gratitude is a seldom talked about but highly sought-after quality in the workplace. Following your interview with a thank-you note on the same day or the next shows you’ve got it.
How to Introduce Yourself in an Email
You may need to introduce yourself by email before you ever land a job interview or speak to a new business contact. How can you make sure your introductory email gets the attention it deserves?
Before the recipient opens the email, they will see the from line and subject line. The first order of business is to make sure you have a professional-sounding email address. You may have had an email handle like “coolangel” or “stripytiger” in high school, but these cute email addresses have no place at work. If you haven’t already, create a professional email address using just your name or initials.
Next, think about your subject line. Don’t use generic subjects like “hi” or “hello.” If these make it past the spam filter, they’re likely to be overlooked. State the reason for your email. Use proper capitalization, using neither ALL CAPS nor all lowercase letters.
Consider your greeting carefully. Never resort to “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To whom it may concern.” This says you haven’t done your research. Look at the company’s website to determine the name and title of the person you’re trying to reach.
In the event that you’re reaching out to a company that doesn’t provide that type of information online, you can still personalize it. You might say, “Dear XYZ Company Human Resources Manager,” or “National Geographic editorial team.”
Your email also needs a strong body. State who you are and why you are writing. Ask a question – depending on your needs, this may mean asking for an interview, for some piece of information, or for the person to do something on your behalf. Asking a definite question increases your chances of getting an email response.
Finally, end your email on a thankful note.
How to Introduce Yourself By Phone
Making a cold call can be intimidating. Whether you’re calling to ask for a job, telemarketing a product, or something else, introducing yourself by phone doesn’t have to be difficult.
As with other types of introductions, you should say who you are and why you are calling. Consider the context. Calling a place of business is different than calling someone’s home number.
Many people find it helpful to type or write out a script before making a phone call. The person on the other end of the line can’t see that you’re using a script, and doing so can help avoid awkward silences from freezing up.
On the other hand, you don’t want the script to make you sound mechanical. Make a conscious effort to smile before you dial the phone. The smile in your voice can be heard, even though the listener can’t see your face.
As with the email, thank the person for their time as you conclude your phone call.
Whether you’re introducing yourself in person, via email, or on the telephone, follow these simple steps:
- State your name and what you do (or your purpose for writing/calling).
- Consider the context of the situation.
- Describe your function in original ways.
- Avoid anything that could be offensive.
- Offer contact information.
- Express gratitude.
Don’t forget to smile and keep your body language professional. No matter the circumstances, you can make a good first impression when you skillfully introduce yourself.