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Knowing how to introduce yourself to others and engage in conversation is a vital part of business, social, and networking etiquette. Using a process and employing a strategy will help reduce anxiety and increase your confidence.

First, try to arrive to the event early. It’s not so daunting to walk into a room and approach people and introduce yourself  if the room is not so crowded. If you arrive midway through an event, it’s more intimidating to approach people because it often appears everyone is already conversing in small groups.

Next, after entering the room, step to the right of the doorway and pause. This pause gives you a chance to briefly scan the room for anyone you specifically want to meet, such as new clients or key people. You may also consider introducing yourself to a “Lone Ranger,” someone standing alone who may not know anyone and is too shy to reach out. A “Lone Ranger” is usually delighted when someone approaches to talk and will most often respond positively to your confidence.

Next, is the “approach.” Try to make eye contact with the Lone Ranger or key person, etc. Smile, approach the person, extend your hand, and say your first and last name and company name.

For example, greet the individual by saying, “Hello—I’m (first and last name) from (company name). Do you mind if I join you?” The new person will then extend his/her hand and introduce himself/herself to you.

Often the key individual you want to meet may already be in a conversation group. But, the approach is similar. First, make eye contact, smile, approach the person, extend your hand and introduce yourself. If you’ve met previously, trigger the other person’s memory by mentioning the event, conference, etc. where you first met.  If appropriate, compliment the individual on their speech, award, accomplishment, etc.

It’s also impressive if you can introduce yourself to others you don’t know who are already in a small conversation group. I realize that trying to integrate yourself into an ongoing conversation takes many people out of their comfort zone. But, every time you do, it will get easier, you’ll gain confidence, and it will reflect on you in a positive way.

First, look for a group of only two to three people. It’s easier to approach a smaller group than a larger group. Notice if the group is standing in a “V stance” (open posture) versus standing close together like they’re having a private conversation.  The “V stance” provides a natural opening in the group that makes the group seem approachable, friendly and welcoming of others.

Next, you’ll use the same professional manner to approach the group as you did to introduce yourself to the Lone Ranger or key individual.  Try to make eye contact, smile, approach the group, extend your hand to the person with whom you made eye contact, and introduce yourself. The others in the group will then introduce themselves to you. As the newcomer, it’s polite to shake hands with everyone in the group. It’s rude to shake only with the first person and just say ‘hi’ to the others.

Those already in the conversation group should make you feel welcome by mentioning what they were talking about or by asking about you (Have your polished 30-second elevator speech ready!)

Never underestimate the power of introducing yourself to others. It sends a powerful message of confidence and professionalism. And, you never know…these new acquaintances could be mutually beneficial down the road.