1. Focus on other Being known as a 'natural' at interpersonal communication is not just a gift that a select few enjoy. We can all enjoy reputation of being 'a great communicator'.
Simply focus conversation on other person. This takes pressure off you --- you don't have to be a witty bon-vivant to be a great communicator.
Avoid interrogating your new acquaintance, and if you are really nervous do your best to control twitches and jittery movements. And (best hint coming...) ALWAYS slow your speaking rate down. Nervousness makes us talk too fast.
2. The eyes have it Here's a great 'rule breaker': instead of sticking to 'respect someone's privacy and personal space' rule, when you meet someone for first time give them a good look right in eyes.
It's well known that when we look at someone we find attractive, our pupils dilate, a phenomenon that other person instinctively picks up on. Well, that phenomenon can also be put to good use in our business dealings, too. Notice other person's eye colour, say 'great' to yourself, and you'll find yourself involuntarily smiling. The other person will pick up on your mood.
But try and avoid smiling lecherously, or as a vampire would when contemplating a tasty new neck...
3. Get over your 'bad hair day' Whilst 'being yourself' is always a good thing for relational honesty, try and disguise your inherent pessimism and bad mood from new acquaintances.
Even though you know you are just 'having a bad day' or a bad half-hour, other person will probably decide that you are a 'full-time whinger', an impression and reputation hard to shake.
A bad mood will spread contagiously, bringing down other person too. Better to start off positively; you can always let them see your 'other' side on another day...
4. "Mirror in bathroom" ** Adjust your posture, voice and gestures to those of your new acquaintance. Establish rapport by mirroring their head nods and tilts. Speak at their pace and volume level. You'd be surprised by just how many different 'voices' a successful salesperson uses in a day -- they spend a large amount of time mirroring other person's gestures, voice, language, pace, intonation and volume.
** (a wildly unsuccessful link to an 80s ska/reggae song)
5. Tread lightly... He's talking about his new Holden Commodore; you're thinking of your new Impreza WRX. Or she's talking about her latest small win at office and you're thinking about new $1M account you just landed single-handed.