The Worst Way To Introduce Yourself

An introduction is the key to successful networking. But sometimes we just can’t connect. Learn 6 ways to build productive connections.

Lisa B. Marshall,
Episode #131

I attended a conference recently. It was a conference for authors who wanted to become professional speakers. On the train back returning home I realized I had made a BIG mistake.

What was my mistake? I didn't connect with enough of the attendees. I often tell people that the biggest benefit you get from attending seminars is often not the actual content but the people you meet and the relationships that you build.

I failed.

Why Networking and Connecting Sometimes Fails

I was thinking about it the entire train ride back. What happened? I started out sitting in the front of the room and by the end of the conference I was sitting in the last row, on the isle, in the seat closest to the exit.

Why didn't I connect? Why did it seem to get worse as the conference went on?

Looking back, I realized it had to do with how I was introducing myself. I failed to follow my own advice! (Remember that classic quote: “We teach what we most need to learn!”)

I was too focused on me and not focused enough on the people I met. What exactly was my mistake? I introduced myself as a “professional speaker.” You might be saying, “Well what’s wrong with that? You are a professional speaker, aren’t you?”

Yes, I am. And normally that's what I say. But in this case saying that wasn’t the best choice. In fact, it was a really bad choice!

Build Rapport Through Common Ground

I didn’t keep in mind that the other attendees were there to learn how to be professional public speakers. A better and equally true answer could have been: "I am an author trying to make public speaking a bigger part of my business."

The point is, my choice of words separated me from my fellow attendees. While I was unconsciously protecting my ego, I was creating distance.

I’m embarrassed to admit this but it gets worse. After one of my proclamations of “professional speaker,” someone asked me: "Well then, what is your goal for attending?" With a smirk, I replied: “espionage!" (I mentioned I am embarrassed, right?)

Later someone subtly corrected me and said, "Oh, you're doing research." Research was in fact more accurate. (I was interested in aspects of the training and I also wanted to see what material resonated with the audience. The speaker knew I was there and in fact had invited me.) Choosing the word “espionage” again distanced me, instead of connecting.

Don’t Discriminate

Finally, I noticed that I chose not to introduce myself to some people based on the topic of his or her book. I won’t lie, I was judging a person by his book (cover). If I thought the topic was “hocus pocus,” I didn’t bother.

Other times I chose not to introduce myself because I felt intimidated. For example, I wasn’t sure I wanted to meet image consultants or fitness consultants because I wasn’t feeling good about my appearance.

So what would I do differently next time? What can you learn from my mistakes? Here are 6 Quick and Dirty tips to successful networking:


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