What to say when you meet new people: The 9 secrets to success
On an average day, you are going to meet a great many new people. Some of them might seem of no value to your life - a waitress, a delivery man, a house cleaning staff and so forth. Yet, never underestimate the value of any individual. Remember, the art of networking can lead you to you achieving greatness. With that in mind, let's look at what you should say and talk about when you meet someone for the first time!
1) Speak without speaking: Your physical appearance and demeanor will say more to people about who you are and what you think of them than any initial greeting. So, keep your body clean, your appearance neat, and dress nicely.
2) A good first line: Don't start off with something like: "Hey, what’s up?" Unless you're talking to a bunch of excited teenagers; that is not how you address someone in the professional world. A proper phrase along the lines of: "How do you do?" or "It's a pleasure to meet you" is appropriate.
3) Eyes and hand: You want to connect with someone at once. So, look them straight in the eye, and offer them your hand. A firm handshake that isn't brief, and yet isn't too long either, and don't crush their hand. That's something a professional wrestler does to intimidate an opponent; not what you do when you want to make a good first impression.
Once the initial meeting is over, Follow up by asking for their name, and make it a point to remember it. Nothing is better at pleasing someone than a person they just met remembering their name.
4) Body language: You want people to feel comfortable when they are talking to you. So, stand up straight, maintain good eye contact - without being domineering, and pay close attention to what they say.
5) Be courteous and speak in a clear, polite tone: If you are in a job interview, let the interviewer ask the first question. After all, you're after a job from them; time is money, and they're busy. So, let them control the situation. Now, at some point, they're going to ask you if you have any questions. That leads to the next point.
6) Be ready to participate in the conversation: Again, if you're on a job interview, check out the company, and have some questions ready to ask. If you're in a social setting, be ready to ask the other person questions about them and their life; or be able to talk about yourself and what you like.
7) Pay attention to what's going on: If your eyes glaze over and you’re not engaged in what's going on, people won’t want to have anything to do with you. So, concentrate on what they're talking about.
8) Select the right things to say: This is a function of the type of conversation you're involved in: interview, a social gathering, a dinner party, and so forth. After the initial meeting, you want to either talk about something interesting - a recent market trend you have observed, a deck that impressed you the most or even a movie you enjoyed recently. Also, ask the other person some questions.
9) Keep the conversation balanced: On one hand, you do not want the other person to have to do all the talking; on the other hand, it's impolite for you to monopolize the conversation. So, allow the other person (people) to talk, and then you "chime in" with a contribution.
Finally, remember the Golden Rule; treat people as you want them to treat you. Treating people decently is a true sign of having good manners. It's said that first impressions are last impressions.
• Bovee C.L., Thill J. V., Chatterjee A. (2011), Business Communication Today, Pearson Education
• Butterfield J. (2011), Soft Skills for Everyone, Cengage Learning India Pvt Ltd
Authored by Ashish Vilas Thite, Faculty of Commerce and Management, Vishwakarma University, Pune.