How To Approach Someone You Don't Know

Many of us may feel apprehensive to introduce ourself to someone new. How do you feel about approaching someone for the first time? While some of us are very outgoing, some of us are shy or nervous to introduce ourselves to someone when we are all alone at an event. How would you approach a stranger at a professional networking event? Let's look at a few simple steps to make this intimidating process easier. 

1. Use your home training.
Remember the social etiquette taught while growing up about meeting new people and making friends.
  • Introduce yourself. Clearly pronounce your name. 
  • Ask the other person’s name; try to repeat it. 
2. Stick to small talk.
  • Create a list of open ended questions that will inspire conversation. 
  • Talk about known and shared connections.  
  • Avoid asking for a job, don't look desperate.
3. Be candid and genuine.
Making others comfortable around us makes them feel good. The more someone feels good about us, the more they remember us.
Ori Brafman of Stanford University shares the most powerful way to do this is through self- monitoring. The more we mirror other’s verbal and non- verbal behavior, their understanding of us increases; and the more they relate to us and find an instant connection. This makes them feel good; and leaves them with a good impression of us.

4. Be interested as well as interesting.
Be remembered for listening and asking questions than talking.

Communication strategies to use:
  • Paraphrase 
  • Reflective question 
  • Summarize
  • Listen 
  • Don’t Interrupt 
  • Ask for clarification, ask "what else?",
  • Don’t answer mobiles 
  • Give full attention to the person in front of you
  • Smile 
  • Make Eye Contact 
  • Pay Attention to Body Language 
  • Use both open and closed ended questions
5. Establish rapport and trust will follow.
Rather than sell yourself; listen to them, take note of any help they require for anything work or personal related. Offer tips or help, resources, or references to other people that can help them.

I am sure after most people read this, they may think, "Jennifer, why did you have to write this down, it's common sense! Aren't I already doing it when I make new friends?" Indeed, you do! Now, transfer these skills to interacting with professional contacts and colleagues. Go out there and network!

Jennifer Kumar helps your Indian team members initiate and build enriching relationships onsite with US stakeholders, counterparts and colleagues. Contact us for more information. 

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Don't forget to say Thank You!  

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