A first impression is vitally important, yet how much thought do we give to how we answer? In the seconds of time we have, we usually give our name and then mumble something we hope is relevant. Here at ULC I teach a simple system for introductions. Spending a few minutes working out what to say in a few situations can save you from feeling embarrassed and shy.
Start with the basics; your name. The key is for the listener to hear and remember so say it clearly and slowly. If you have a difficult name then giving a rhyming word can help people remember it better. If they have used only their first or last name, do the same. If you are starting the conversation we generally start with first and last names.
I will go through several questions that take way longer to read than they will take you to ask. Yes, you already do these steps but you don’t have a system so it is stressful and difficult. The first question is: Who are you talking to? At the extremes, how you would answer the wife of a colleague is quite different from how you would answer your best customer’s new purchasing agent. To simplify things, I split introductions into 2 categories: business people we will deal with regularly and adults who are being polite. The most important to business people is obviously the first one. Your introduction for business people can have more detail and casual introductions in social settings should have less detail.
The next part of your introduction will need some thought and maybe even practice. In my private lessons, I recommend that my clients name their company and the most popularly known product that they work on. When I was an engineer I would introduce myself this way, “I work for Binkley. We make truck trailer parts.” If I was talking with someone in the trucking industry I would introduce what I did as, “I work for Binkley in their truck suspension systems division.” Notice the difference. The first is general enough that most people will understand what I do. The second is much more specific for business people, but still short and to the point. Now, my title is important so I introduce myself as “I’m the Business Director at United Language Centre, we help people communicate better in English.”
The hardest point is what to use as a product. The key is to make sure your example product is something people see every day. Some companies have products that are not so distinct and visible to the average person. Think about what your product is a part of or who your biggest customer is. For example, “My name is Shin. I’m the sales manager at ABC. We make computer chips that go into smartphones and TVs.” It could also name your biggest customers, “We make computer chips for Apple and Panasonic.” Service jobs can be a bit challenging to describe so saying who you help do what is often the best approach. For example, “I help salespeople check that all the information is right.” or “I help people decide what is the best class for them.”
Next you ask a question back to the other person. Remember, introductions are about getting to know them as much as them getting to know you. If they are good at introducing themselves you should already know who they are and what company they work for. If not, those are the first questions you should ask in addition to ‘What does your company do?’ or “What is your best selling product?”
Next in formal situations you can ask, “Who do you usually work with?” or “What are your main responsibilities?” If it is an informal business situation, you can ask questions like, “How did you get into the (type) industry?” or “How long have you worked for your company?” Often they will turn the question back to you so have an answer ready!
Now you have finished your introduction and you are moving into a conversation!
If you are interested in learning more about introductions or want help with your English communication skills feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. Alternatively, you could check out our company LinkedIn page here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/unitedlanguagecentre/