Thursday, June 18, 2009

How To: Greet Others

As a professional, from time to time you'll find yourself in situations where you need to greet others. This seems simple, right? A nice, "Hello, how are you? I'm ...." should suffice.

Well, except that you maybe met that person at a conference three months ago. Your colleague must have introduced you to twenty people that day, and you can't remember who was who. No worries, though. There are some quick and easy tricks to greeting others to not embarrass yourself or them.

Typical introduction: "It's nice to meet you."
Networking substitute: "It's nice to see you."
By replacing 'meet' with 'see' you are saying the same thing, but allowing for the fact that you may have previously met this person.

Other good substitutes are: "How are you?" or "How have you been?"
Both are perfectly benign questions that let people feel comfortable (and get them talking) without necessarily indicating whether you've met before.

So what if you are SURE you met them before but cannot, for the life of you, remember their name or where they work? First, relax. This happens to everybody. Play it smooth.

Assuming you are at an event where the hosts have been a bit inconsiderate and not provided nametags, try to grab a colleague. Use the above lines (hey, they might not remember you either!), and then introduce your colleague (or anyone you're talking to). Try: "This is so-and-so. They ...." With any luck, the other person will stick out their hand and say their name.

If you're at the event alone, and standing alone (which if you're networking, you probably shouldn't be), the above trick won't work. The good news is, you don't need someone's name to talk to them. Just work through the conversation and then offer them your card. If you think you may have done this before, flip it over and write something about your conversation on the back and hand it to the other person. With any luck, they'll reciprocate with their card.

Any other greeting tips?

1 comment:

  1. What about telling them yours, with the hope that they will then say theirs? "Hi, I think we met at ______, my name is ______." I will frequently do this if they are "above" my position (a well known person in my field, versus my graduate student position) even if I remember their name.