Introductions can be intimidating. Reaching out to a stranger or walking up to a new person takes courage and confidence. And it isn’t all just about what you say. I distinctly remember a piece of advice my father gave me when I was around 10 years old, “Always walk with your head raised high and looking forward”. He told me this before I hit my teens, after noticing I was looking down a lot when I walked, or spoke. “Walk with your head raised high to exude confidence,” advice he bestowed upon me that I still remember now in my early 30s. Enter into a situation with confidence, people will notice you. Body language, though silent, speaks volumes. Now for the more intimidating part for most people – introducing yourself!
This is the piece that evokes a different emotion in everyone depending on your personality type: excitement, nervousness, fear, curiosity, etc. In our parents’ generation, and earlier, there was really only one way to introduce yourself: in person! Today, in an age of e-mail, jet setting, and social media, the introduction is easier than ever, and the trick is the delivery. Since many times you are no longer face to face, how you present yourself via social media and in written communication reigns supreme. Below are some tips for making a confident, lasting, and fruitful introduction:
The age old version of networking – the In-Person. This is where you want to be on your game. See above for the best advice. Stand tall, have business cards, and project confidence.
This is an effective yet bold move. You should do this, 100 percent. The key to this is to realize that you might be reaching out to someone with no prior reference. This is fine but that that into consideration with how you present yourself. If you are inquiring about a new opportunity (aka job, i like to say opportunity), don't include your resume. That is what LinkedIn is for. If we progress further, and they ask, send your resume. Be confident, but not aggressive, start the conversation slow. It will progress. Have faith!
The obvious one here is to follow people that you want to get to know, or learn more from. A simple "Follow" can even start a conversation. Or perhaps retweeting their content, or replying to their tweet with a comment or question. I have found great success in growing my network on twitter (@cgreenwood) using these tactics. I have even approached people out of the blue asking for them to speak at conferences, or to help me better understand their market. We are now in communication, and helping each other move forward, even if we are on different sides of the country (or perhaps world!).
The site provides a few ways of networking. You can use the group area to research specific networking groups perhaps by interest or area, such as “women in technology” or “Boston networking groups”. You can learn about events to attend, read articles, and join the conversation. If your goal is to reach a specific individual, this can be tougher. Many people receive unsolicited requests to become LinkedIn with individuals (many times head hunters). Make sure to note in your request to link what your goal of your outreach. If it to get ahead in your career, or pick someone’s brain your field (perhaps find a mentor?) you are more likely to get a response.
Do what makes the most sense to you in your current position in your career, or based on what outcomes you are looking for specifically networking a person or organization. Remember: Be confident, reach outside your comfort zone, and make the introduction, you never know where it might lead you.
- Courtney Greenwood, MBA