Imagine this situation:
Your company has sent you to an important industry conference overseas. It is the morning of day one and, after some initial speeches in the main hall, you and the other attendees have moved to an open lobby area where refreshments are being served. You get a coffee and suddenly become aware that you seem to be the only person on your own. Everybody around you is having excited conversations in small groups. How do you feel?
The answer is probably terrible. You are likely to lose confidence and then, if nobody approaches you, eventually pretend to reply to a message on your phone until the next speech starts. To improve your confidence here is a simple 5-step structure that, with a little practice, works in almost any situation globally.
1. Body language
First, approach the person, make eye contact and smile.
Say an appropriate greeting such as, “Hello”, “Good morning” or “Good Afternoon”. Please use lots of intonation to make you sound friendly and interesting.
Say your name clearly and slowly; first say your given name, followed by a short pause and then your family name, for example, “My name is Anthony Carver.” Name cards are not always automatically exchanged in this kind of situation, so it is important to set a good model for the person you to whom are speaking to copy.
This is the most important step. Your objective is not to give give a lot of information about yourself, it is to establish mutual communication with the other person. If you have achieved steps 1, 2 and 3, then 99% of the time the other person will respond with a greeting and their name.
5. Shake hands
Offer your hand with an appropriate introduction expression such as, “How do you do?” or “Nice to meet you?” As the other person replies, shake their hands firmly for 2 or 3 beats and then release.
These 5 stages are well worth practicing with people until you feel comfortable. Research suggests that the first 7 seconds of meeting somebody are incredibly important.