I WAS UNPREPARED when I first ventured away from a secure corporate position to entrepreneurship. I had no idea why I felt the need to specialize in professional image, etiquette, and protocol. It was a time when I entered the dress-for-success movement and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I felt the push and went with it! In the beginning, I did it for myself by seeking out the necessary certification and training to develop the expertise that I needed to expand my knowledge. That wasn’t enough! I also had to figure out how to present myself in a wide range of scenarios (e.g., networking events and meetings to presenting seminars and training). It was now time to share the knowledge and teach others.

Once I felt comfortable with myself, I started observing how people looked, postured themselves, and interacted. Why were some people able to work a room with confidence and flair, while others appeared awkward?

I then broke down the initial interaction into seven components. These components all work together as a team and serve as your foundation. Miss one step and you will continue to feel that something’s missing or wonder why your efforts aren’t working. Master all seven steps and your confidence level with soar and success will follow. The following are excerpts from “Seven Steps to Impressive Greetings and Confident Interactions”:

 

Step One: Approach with Presence

Approach with Professional Presence and a powerful imageFirst impressions are all about perception! Your attire sends the strongest first-impression message followed by your body language. Therefore, dress and posture yourself appropriately for the occasion. It is important to meet the expectation. This might require some research if you are used to a very casual or a very formal business environment. You do not want to underdress and send a message that the meeting or event is not worth your effort. Nor do you want to overdress and make others uncomfortable because you appear too formal.

Both casual and formal situations have guidelines that are wise to follow. This step takes the guesswork out of the what to wear dilemma and offers tips on how to posture confidence as well as to send the intended body language message.

 

Step Two: Initiating and Responding to Introductions

Initiating and Responding to IntroductionsThere are many variables in the greeting and introduction process. Each begins with knowing when to be formal and when to be informal (or casual) with names and with titles. This is not easy with a society that often functions on a first-name basis and titles fall to the wayside. However, it is critical to make the right choices when building international and corporate relationships where the expectation is formal.

Rank-based introductions require more time and thought. Greeting people correctly is a learned skill.

 

Step Three: Mastering the Name Exchange

Mastering the Name ExchangeDo you occasionally experience blank name moments? It can be so embarrassing! It happens to us all. Distractions can make it difficult to focus. In addition, we are also challenged with unfamiliar (cultural) names. Have you ever avoided someone because the pronunciation of their name challenged you, or mumbled a person’s name in an introduction because you were unsure? Perhaps you are one who often feels avoided. We have all experienced these situations at one time or another. But that does not make it right or acceptable. Avoiding a person’s name is insulting and can create a  misunderstanding!

What is the answer? Learn techniques that help you to accurately remember and pronounce names. When unsure, ASK if you pronounced their name correctly. If not, repeat correctly! Getting the name right as it pertains to hyphenated names, double names, accents, and non-Western names is also important.

 

Step Four: Handshake Messaging

Handshake Messaging and handshake gripThe traditional (web-to-web) handshake is the business handshake! The handshake is a very important part of the greeting and comes in different forms. For example, are you shaking hands, bumping knuckles, air-kissing, hugging, high-fiving, or participating in some greeting ritual? And, as accepting as the hug greeting has become, for some it feels intrusive.

During the coronavirus pandemic, handshakes have given way to fist bumps and elbow taps to avoid spreading the Covid virus. As the pandemic subsides, a return to a tried-and-true (web-to-web) handshake is the professional approach and is not invasive or awkward when initiated correctly. Historically and internationally, it’s the contract! Plus, it serves as the barometer of the greeting. The message is in the feeling the grip delivers!

 

Step Five: Cultivating Conversation Skills

Cultivating Conversation and Small Talk SkillsSmall talk strengthens conversation by eliminating barriers at the onset. This takes time, practice, and sensitivity. We are all unique in our backgrounds, our interests, and our personality. It’s your DNA! However, crossing age, education, experience, and cultural barriers can create awkward conversation moments. Furthermore, electronic devices have become a crutch to avert conversation. Conversation (verbal and written) must happen and is key to successful interactions.

Engage in a rewarding conversation instead of one which you want to avoid. Discover conversation avenues (techniques) you can utilize, and how to avoid common roadblocks.

 

Step Six: Business Card Development and Exchange

Business Card Development and ExchangeThe physical business card is mandatory. Why? Because it’s tangible and can be filed for future reference.

Your business card should be skillfully designed, user-friendly, and properly presented. It is the part of you that you leave behind to remind you of your interaction and serve as your follow-up tool. Virtual cards (or your signature card) play an important role as well. You need BOTH!

 

Step Seven: Memorable Departures and Effective Follow-ups

Memorial Departures and Effective Follow-upsFirst impressions lead to lasting impressions!  Make a memorable departure and create a follow-up action guide. Too often this is the step that gets lost or ignored. If you do not follow up, the time spent (and the ROI) will be lost.

The first six steps contributed to an impressive first impression. Now it’s time for a memorable lasting impression. This encompasses utilizing segments of the above steps in your exit or closing: Posture confidence with sincere eye contact, repeat their name, shake hands, reference the business card, and ask for their preferred follow-up method (email, phone, IM, etc.), and suggest a reconnect arrangement (in person or online).

 

The Art of Professional Connections: Seven Steps to Impressive Greetings and Confident Interactions offers proven strategies to make your next interaction the first step toward one of many successful business relationships.

Confidence and engaging first impressions open the door to every interaction moving forward. Lasting impressions keep the relationship intact.

 

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Add this edition to your professional development library by purchasing from your favorite bookstore (soft cover and eBook formats). Or, email me, at gl****@gl************.com on how to bring a seminar or SME training to your organization.

 

For SME training on this topic, visit:

GlobalProtocolAcademy.com

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