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Good Eye Contact, a Firm Handshake and a Clear Voice
A variety of life experiences require you to introduce yourself in one capacity or another. If you're caught off-guard, it can be a bit nerve-wracking, and you may find yourself at a loss for words, or worse, making a verbal stumble. Having a few ready phrases prepared for different circumstances will give you a sense of confidence and help you make a good impression every time.
Introducing yourself in a professional setting can take many forms. The key is to speak clearly and confidently, smiling and making eye-contact with those you’re addressing. When appropriate, reference your setting as part of your introduction.
In a meeting: “Hi, I’m Alice Smith, I’m the new marketing director for ABC Company, and I’m excited to dive into this marketing committee meeting and get started on the agenda for next year.”
As part of a panel discussion: “Hi, I’m Alice Smith, I’m the marketing director for ABC Company, where I oversee advertising concept development, online marketing features and print collateral.”
In a networking venue: “Hi, I’m Alice Smith. I handle marketing for ABC Company, and I’m here today to try and get to know media outlet representatives a little better.”
Meeting decision-makers: “I’m Alice Smith, marketing director. I'm here to provide you with an overview of the work we're doing on the marketing campaign for the next fiscal year. This is the first time I'm leading this particular effort, and I'm excited to get your feedback on our new approach.”
Specific Professional Setting
Of course, some professional settings require more specific introductions. For example, if you work as a nurse in a doctor’s office, your introduction will provide both an overview of who you are, and what you're there to do. For example, “I’m Alice, I'm Dr. David's nurse. I'm going to be taking your vital signs and getting some information to pass along to the doctor before he comes in to see you today.”
In a Job Interview
A common opening to a job interview is the prompt, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” Your response is part introduction, part personal sales pitch. You don’t have to tell your entire life story in one breath. Have a brief but compelling intro planned, and then allow the hiring manager to delve in with more far-ranging questions.
“I’m a graduate of Ohio University, I've been working in marketing and communications for 10 years, and I’m interested in a work environment where I can showcase my graphic design skills.”
How to Wrap an Introduction
There are a number of ways to conclude an introduction so it isn’t left hanging in an awkward pause. For example, if you're in a professional setting and your introduction is leading up to a presentation or an introduction of someone else, make a smooth transition.
“And now I would like to introduce Dr. Smith to tell you more about what we’ll be covering in today's lecture.”
In a networking venue, a natural segue is to ask the person you're speaking with to tell you a little bit about themselves.
“So tell me about where you work and what you do.”
Even if you're just going out for drinks with your girlfriends, there may be a time when you're introduced to someone from outside the group. In a social setting, focus on the basics, such as your name and how you know the other people you're with.
“I’m Cindy Jones, I know these ladies from yoga—nice to meet you.”
Be prepared for follow-up questions that ask about your family, where you live, where you're from and what line of work you're in.
Mothers with young children are often introducing themselves to other parents to help facilitate school activities and play dates. In this instance, provide everything relevant to the situation. For example, “I'm John's mom, Nancy. John is in Mrs. Smith's third-grade class. We live right around the corner from the school. You’re Kevin’s mom?”
You may have occasion to introduce yourself via email or by phone. Email introductions should focus on why you’re writing.
“I’m a local real estate agent and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to meet local lenders who focus on FHA loans. Would you be willing to send me some background information on your institution?”
A phone call should also state your reason for calling as part of your introduction.
“I’m Alice Smith, I’m a teacher at ABC Elementary School, and I recently placed an order of school supplies that have not yet arrived.”
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.