4 Ways to Authentically Connect With Someone When You're First Meeting Them, According to a CEO

two women in virtual meeting

Adobe Stock / Fairygodboss Staff

Sara London for Hive
Sara London for Hive
April 19, 2024 at 9:10PM UTC
You’ve just joined a new team, and you want to make a good impression that most authentically captures your personality and work style – but you’re a little nervous. If you’re at a loss about how to introduce yourself to your team, here are four tips from Thomas Vozzo, CEO of Homeboy Industries and author of The Homeboy Way: A Radical Approach to Business and Life.

Don’t be afraid of tech

While it might seem like introducing yourself over Zoom can impede your ability to express yourself, don’t be nervous – it could actually work to your advantage.
“These days, nearly all new team member introductions happen via some teleconferencing technology like Zoom,” Vozzo says. “It allows for a more intimate introduction of who the person authentically is. It’s not about whether you are tall or short. It’s not about, did you shake hands well or sit in the right seat in the conference room. Eye contact is made, and it’s all about what you say and how you respond.”
“Technology clearly provides upsides and downsides to introducing oneself to a team,” Vozzo continues. “On the upside, there is now a cadence about allowing others to talk and, for the most part, not to be interrupted. So tech gives the “stage” to make a statement or two.”
While this might seem intimidating, it actually presents a unique opportunity. Without the chance to take center stage, you might leave an introductory meeting feeling like you faded into the background out of fear or uncertainty. A video meeting forces you to speak publicly, so you can foster your communication skills, and face the challenge of commanding the room.
“Furthermore,” Vozzo says, “with a Zoom meeting, it’s not as apparent the hierarchy of the team, and thus it is less intimidating to make your introduction.” If everyone is a little square on the same screen, you see teammates as equals. It eliminates the awkwardness of finding somewhere to sit in a conference room where your peers already have their preferred spots or feeling like you’re not appropriately dressed for your first day on the job.

Be mindful of your mouth

While technology might be great for those who want to take center stage, don’t get too caught up in the act, or you’ll feel more like a clown than a ringmaster. You’ll know how to introduce yourself to your team in a way that’s most authentic to you if you’re able to realize when your mouth is moving faster than your brain.
“The harder part with a Zoom meeting is that you don’t see the non-verbal clues as much,” Vozzo says, so you won’t see others getting antsy or distracted. “One needs to be careful not to babble on too much.”
“As in all situations, you need to be able to “read the room” and check to see if others are paying attention or are lost in their own thoughts,” Vozzo says.
Coming across authentically means that you can’t dominate the space with false, performative bravado. If you’re spending too long describing yourself, or you get nervous and begin to ramble, you might lose your true self in a sea of words.
“Getting lost is about losing “the thread” of the conversation,” Vozzo continues. “This generally happens when one person goes on a long discussion, really a monologue, about a certain topic.”

You’re there to learn

Vozzo notes that one of the biggest problems with first-time introductions is that one assumes that talking about themselves is what they’re there to do when, in fact, it’s more about learning how you fit into the dynamic of your team. To keep from going off on a tangent, keep your introduction sweet and simple, and listen more than you talk.
“Another way one gets lost is that it becomes easy for a new person not to participate in a group discussion,” Vozzo says. “They talk too much about themselves and don’t spend enough time listening to what they are saying, and then responding to that.”
For instance, if you have pets and your teammates ask about them after you’re done explaining, turn the question around and ask your team about their pets. This interest conveys a wish to bond with your new team and tells them implicitly that you care as much about getting to know them as they do with you.
“It’s important to make sure you ask a relevant question as it pertains to the topic at hand at least once,” Vozzo adds. This means that when your introduction is over, you should still make an effort to best convey your listening style, whether it’s active, passive, or otherwise. You should also respond to comments in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re just saying what you believe your teammates want to hear, as you more than likely don’t know them well enough to determine that yet, and your attempts at pandering will make you seem like someone you’re not.

Above all, stay positive

If you’re still wondering how to introduce yourself to your team, and you’re worried about what you’ll say when you have the floor, just remember that these people are going to be your coworkers and confidants. Introduce yourself with all the excitement and graciousness you’re feeling inside, and approach the situation with warmth and friendliness.
“Smile, smile, and smile,” Vozzo says. “A smile helps breakthrough quick judgments about people, and from there, you can talk naturally.” Positivity will set the groundwork for a positive relationship moving forward. So even if it’s a shy smile or a goofy smile, your teammates will appreciate the burst of lighthearted energy that you’ll bring aboard.
“Lastly, thank everyone in advance for having you on the team,” Vozzo says, “and helping you and the organization succeed.”
Without expressing your appreciation, your teammates might not know exactly how excited you are to get started. And by telling them about your readiness to help the company succeed, you also begin your relationship by stating a common goal that can bond you and your teammates together.
This article originally appeared in Hive — the world's first democratically built productivity platform. Learn more at Hive.com.
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