This is the most embarrassing situation I’ve ever experienced when networking.
I was traveling on business with Jackie, a top executive for a hotel chain. Jackie and I would be co-facilitating a one-day training session with the management team of a hotel property.
Now, Jackie and I have absolutely nothing in common. She’s a bit older than me and comes across like a college professor (not that there’s anything wrong with that). She’s conservative in her manner, eloquent and articulate in her delivery, and highly intelligent. (All the things I’m not.) Now, this is all fine, except her personality is a bit aloof, so it’s not easy to connect with her.
The next thing you know, we were breaking for lunch and found ourselves at a buffet. It was one of those deals where everyone stands with Styrofoam plates, paper cups, and plastic utensils. Lunch consisted of grilled chicken, steamed string beans, and something orange I couldn’t identify. So as Jackie spoke to me, I bit down into a string bean and (you guessed it) a jet stream of water fired at warp speed in her direction.
It’s important to note that the water didn’t hit her directly in the face. It did, however, take an interesting trajectory downward, and at the very last second actually grazed the lens of her eye glasses, leaving a line of water. It then dripped into her soda.
I tried to play it off as if nothing had happened. Well, as you might suspect, Jackie was on to me. She actually went cross eyed for a moment as she looked at the line of water on her lens. It was an uncomfortable moment.
My brilliant reply was, “So – what now?” That was all I could muster. Jackie actually smiled and asked if I would get her another soda, and she would wipe her lens, and we could call it even. The rest of the day ended up great, and we had a good relationship moving forward. Funny story, right?
So, how do you deal with those awkward moments that send you running away for the steamed vegetables?
How do I introduce myself?
Depends: Is the person you’re approaching in the middle of a conversation? If so, excuse yourself politely and introduce yourself. Offer to return once they finish their current conversation. But if you’re not interrupting, simply introduce yourself and ask some engaging questions – about them.
How do I introduce others and gracefully walk away?
Excuse yourself for interrupting and introduce whomever. During the course of your introduction, let them know why you’re doing this, and highlight how they might help one another. Then, offer them time to get to know one another as you excuse yourself politely.