Update: This was originally part of the post Social Networking Made Easy but the post was so long I decided to split it into a series. Welcome to Part 2 of the Social Networking Made Easy Series and stay tuned for Part 3: Speaking with an Accent!
In my previous post, I gave you a bunch of how to’s for conducting yourself in a social setting. Here’s an how NOT to when meeting an acquaintance for a second time. This is an actual meeting that I observed in person:
Bill: Hi Phil, I took your class 12 years ago, do you remember me?
Phil: Uhh, no. But you gotta realize I’ve been teaching classes for years and you were one of probably 20 or so students in a class and that was thousands of students ago.
Bill: Yeah, I took your class and then I was signed to XYZ Agency.
Phil: Oh yeah? They’re a good agency. Are you still with them?
Bill: No, they didn’t do anything for me; I never got any jobs or anything and after a while they let me go. So I’m looking for a new agent.
Phil: Oh well, good luck.
Wow, where to begin? Bill, our hapless social blunderer, made a number of tactical errors here; more than you can guess from a simple transcript of the meeting. Not only did Bill never give his name, Bill’s tone bordered on belligerent, he didn’t make eye contact, and I was floored that he expected Phil to remember him after so many years. Nor did he even offer to shake Phil’s hand when he greeted him. There is a much better way to present yourself to someone you’ve only met a handful of times before and who may or may not remember you. Here are my suggestions:
- Smile and offer to shake hands. Your handshake says a lot about you. I’m a big fan of a firm grip and no more than 2 pumps (insert dirty joke here). Seriously though, a crushing grip, a wimpy finger hold, or a handshake that lingers too long can ruin your social greeting before you even get out of the gate.
- Assume the person DOES NOT remember you. Introduce yourself and gracefully remind the person you’re greeting where you previously met: Hi Phil, I took your class a few years ago and it gave me the training and confidence I needed to land an agent.
- By reminding Phil of your previous encounter(s) he may remember you, but even if he doesn’t, you’ve at least given him a frame of reference for your relationship to each other.
- Remember to make eye contact. There are many who are uncomfortable making direct eye contact but it’s hard to make a connection without it. It’s through eye contact that your audience knows you are listening to them. And when you’re speaking, making eye contact can be a powerful tool to hold your audience’s attention because they know you are speaking directly to them.
- Now that you’ve charmed your way through the door, keep your conversation brief and relevant to the current situation.
- Make a graceful exit. When the conversation has run its course, exit gracefully and on a positive note. It was nice to see you again Phil. I look forward to seeing you at the next event.
I’ve said it before, these concepts are not new but I hope if they are new to you, you find these tips helpful. Use them to show yourself off to your best advantage! Meeting people you barely know doesn’t have to be scary. Listen to them, learn how to present the best parts of yourself, and you will charm almost everyone you meet. I truly believe this.