Introductions: Creating better connections in potentially awkward situations

I’ve been thinking about introductions.

As I write this the holiday season is near and I know I’ll be meeting new people at holiday gatherings and end of year networking events. But throughout the year we have many opportunities to introduce ourselves in both social and business situations.

Recently I’ve been a bit lazy in my introductions. I know because I’ve seen people get a bit distracted moments after talking about my current project. 

I used to get very enthusiastic responses. But I think I’ve been tired and it shows.

I’ve been working on a documentary project about the parks of Berlin for nearly a year now. At the beginning of the project when I was excited, it seemed everyone I talked to was excited. 

Now, as I feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work in front of me to finish the films and get it seen, I talk about the project with less excitement.

The people who listen to me mirror that drop in interest.

I suddenly realized that I control other people’s level of interest. My own level of enthusiasm impacts the way people perceive what I have to say.

The power of enthusiasm

After this realization I started talking about the project differently. I began sharing aspects of the project that currently held my curiosity. At this time, I’m curious how to get the project seen.

Again, that enthusiasm has been reflected back to me as others become enthusiastic and share different ideas for getting projects seen.

The way you present your ideas, your projects, your business will impact how much others will be interested or not interested in what you have to say.

As an introvert, I’m not looking for interest in my project per se, although that can be a nice byproduct of a conversation.

For me, the point of an introduction is to make a connection and create a possibility to start a dialogue.

A weak introduction is a loss for both parties, there is no place to further a conversation.

An overpowering introduction also creates a loss, as generally the other person gets no space to share or comment.

I found that sharing a piece of what I am working on, and something I am either excited or curious about, is a great starting point for a first encounter. ‘

Choosing your point of entry

We have many facets of our story. When introducing ourselves, it can be nice to share a bit of our vision. What is it you want to bring to the world.

It can sound something like this: I’m working on a project filming the parks of Berlin.

Simple, right? 

The key is to pick some aspect of your project that you are genuinely excited about or working on. 

Notice I say working on rather than struggling with. When you are facing a challenge it might be nice to lead with that aspect of your project but only if you frame it from a place of curiosity. Again, your attitude will impact the response you get and the shape the direction of your interaction.

Challenges can be an even more interesting starting point than project visions because it gives the other person an opportunity to share their experiences and ideas. In the process you learn more about them.

Taking this approach I’ve been enjoying networking situations much more than when I was nervous about how to introduce myself.

The power of intentions

One additional mindset shift that has helped me in social situations where I have to meet new people is having the goal of connecting with one new person.

Of course, in the course of the evening I’ll meet more than one person. By creating a connection, I mean meeting one person where the conversation flows and there is a give and take of information and energy.

If I have more than one connection, great. If I don’t end up having a connection that is information for next time, maybe it was the wrong kind of event for me.

Usually these days I make more than one connection and I feel more relaxed and energized during and after these events by using this approach.

I’ve found the key is for me to be intentional about what I want to experience in each social situation and to be clear about what currently gives me energy.

The joy of connection

We live in a big world full of people with a diverse set of backgrounds and interests. Your introduction can be an invitation for you to share a bit about yourself and in the process to discover very different ways of seeing and experiencing the world.

Give this a try at your next social event and see how you feel. Are you able to make deeper connections? Do you discover more about the people you meet? Is the social experience more fun and relaxed for you?