How do you present yourself?

Earlier this month, I was at an industrial trade show running media meetings for a large, well-known manufacturing client. I was standing in their booth during a particularly busy time in the exhibit hall and pitching in where I could until my next meeting.

A man, who looked a little disheveled and addled came wandering up to the display I was standing near. I said hello and he looked at the company name on the booth and said, “With a name like that, you must not be a Japanese company.” I responded that it’s an American company with a global presence. He was silent, looking at the display and not me, so I offered to get someone to answer questions for him.

“Oh no, I’m not a potential customer,” he told me and fished a business card out of his pocket. “I’m a PR guy, if you want to get more publicity for your products, give me a call.” He handed me the card and walked away. I didn’t even have the opportunity to say thanks, he was gone so fast. I stifled a laugh and turned to the product manager who had overheard the “pitch,” he too was laughing.

I’m not in sales or business development, I’m in marketing communications. For the purposes of that trade show, I was the “PR guy.” Never in a million years would I assume a greeting and closing line like that would be professional or persuasive. And I’d never hand someone a business card without actually introducing myself and getting the other person’s name. Whenever you present yourself to others, regardless of what business you’re in, you should strive to be professional and polite.

Here are a few easy communication tips for making a good first time meeting impression:

  1. Be friendly
  2. Introduce yourself and ask the other person their name if they don’t provide it
  3. Repeat their name, for example, if their name is Bob say, “It’s very nice to meet you, Bob.”
  4. Ask sincere questions
  5. Don’t make assumptions
  6. Make eye contact
  7. Do your research prior to the meeting if at all possible
  8. If the person you’re speaking with isn’t the right contact for you, ask to be introduced to them

This guy’s card is still sitting on my desk, for no other reason than it gives me a little chuckle when I see it. I checked out the guy’s website and it turns out that he owns the agency and the site looks professional. But I have to wonder what kind of service his clients get if that is the image he presents of his own company.

Believe it or not, that isn’t the first time another agency representative has approached me in an unprofessional manner and tried to sell me the same services that I was providing to my clients. I must just have that kind of face…


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