Throughout our lifetime, we introduce ourselves to hundreds of new people everywhere we go. Every time we strike up a conversation with a stranger sitting next to us on the train, duck into a gas station to ask for directions or step up to the checkout counter, we’re constantly coming up with new, creative ways to introduce ourselves in line with the circumstances.

And we hardly ever realize we’re doing it.

Whether it’s a formal meeting or a more laid back meet up, introductions are sometimes tricky. Especially if you want to make a good first impression either way. Here are 20 creative ways to show someone who you are within the first precious moments of meeting them (where you use them, of course, is completely up to you).

1. “I’m shy, please come say hi.”

Grab a name tag and write, “I’m shy, please come say hi” in the blank space. It’s the truth, right?

2. A name is worth a thousand conversations

Do you have a name that’s unique, or a name that can be spelled 10 different ways? It’s okay to spell it out, tell of its origin or give a short but sweet lesson in pronunciation.

3. Highlight something that makes you unique

“I grew up in New York, but I’m originally from Russia.” That’s quite an icebreaker! It gives you both something to talk about, something they’re at least mildly intrigued by.

4. Start with a pop culture reference

Relate your name back to a character or figure everyone knows. “Hey, my name’s Ross. You know, like the guy from FRIENDS.”

5. Confess your nickname

If you want to be called something other than your name, follow up with that. They just might respond with, “Oh, I have a cousin who goes by that.”

6. Let the way you dress reflect who you are

Dressing style reflects individuality. For example, I know a Chinese girl who deliberately dresses in green to match with her Chinese name “happy to be natural.” Everyone can thus instantly remember her. Hence, the way you dress can actually become a topic of conversation and help others remember you.

7. Make a T-shirt

On the front: “On the back of this shirt is everything you need to know about me.” The rest is self-explanatory.

8. Make a “business” card

Keep something with you to give away to new people you meet. Instead of your name and contact information, list random facts about yourself, your interests, your hobbies. If nothing else, you’ll be the most memorable person in the room for taking something old and boring and giving it new life.

9. Just start talking

It’s likely the person you’re introducing yourself to feels a little nervous and awkward as well. Dare to dive right into conversation and see where it goes. They might feel relieved you talked first and relax immediately.

10. Keep it relevant

Pay attention to your surroundings. There’s likely something happening around you that you can use to strike up a conversation without just walking up to a stranger with your hand outstretched for an unsolicited handshake.

11. Be honest

“I came up to you because I felt awkward just standing here not talking to anyone.” Chances are, they were feeling the same way before you approached them.

12. Search for common ground

Do a little digging while you’re saying hello. Small talk is only awkward until the two of you find something in common. “I’m studying English, I really love reading classics.” You never know, they might too.

13. Always follow up with a question

Let them know you’re interested in getting to know them, too. You don’t want to come off as only wanting to talk about yourself.

14. Consider the situation

Draw from the reason you’re both in a specific place at the same time. Are you students? Working with the same company? Friends of friends? These are great conversation-starters.

15. Put someone else on the spot

Starting off with a compliment or a question allows you to initiate conversation and introduce yourself without being the first one to stand beneath the spotlight. It also shows you’re observant and curious.

16. Pick something in the room to “guard”

“Don’t mind me, I’m just guarding the mozzarella sticks. You can have one if you want.”

17. The mutual friend is the key

“I’ve known Jeremy since college, we took a lot of classes together.” This at least gives you an outlet to talk about yourself relative to someone else the other person knows from somewhere else. It makes you seem more familiar to them, and vice versa.

18. Engage with your surroundings

Even if it’s only paying attention to something on T.V., what you’re doing can give someone a decent introduction to who you are and what interests you.

19. Help someone out

There’s more than one reason why keeping your phone in your pocket is a good idea. Someone approaching might need help opening a door or carrying something, and by assisting, you’re automatically introducing yourself as a Good Samaritan, instead of just another person playing Candy Crush.

20. Smile

Your face, particularly your eyes and your expression, is the first thing someone sees when they notice you for the first time. Give off an aura of happiness even if you’re uncomfortable. It draws people in.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and introduce yourself in the comments. Don’t forget to be creative!

Featured photo credit: Garry Knight via flickr.com

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