Business Etiquette – How To Make Introductions
Are you left red-faced when making introductions in a business setting?
You could be forgiven for not following standard etiquette when in comes introducing friends, however, if it affects your reputation and chance of career success, you must know the correct thing to do.
Why should it matter? It will boost your confidence if you are able to show respect to those for whom correct protocol matters.
How skilled are you at making introductions? A proper introduction sets the tone for how others will perceive you. It’s all about first impressions and we all know we only get one chance to make a positive first impression!
Have you ever been at a networking event or conference with a colleague who runs into somebody he or she knows and starts chatting away while you stand feeling like the third wheel? It’s awful to be left in limbo and it’s rather rude of your colleague who didn’t think to make the introduction.
Now, back to that feeling that you are the third wheel … you may just have to bite the bullet and introduce yourself, which is fine, but the exchange would have been much smoother had your colleague made a quick introduction in the first instance.
Being introduced invites someone into the conversation and makes him or her feel like part of the group right from the start.
Making an introduction shows you respect your friend, colleague or guest and, as my Chinese mother used to say, “Gives them face“.
Neglecting to make an introduction leaves that person feeling ignored and rather awkward.
Making introductions is particularly important in business settings as they give you an aura of being confident, prepared, and in control, establish a rapport of respect and gets relationships off on the right foot.
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Making introductions used to be very formal many rules to avoid a faux pas. However today, just remembering to make an introduction politely creates a positive first impression for you.
Don’t stress about rigid rules or be too fancy about your introductions. Keeping introductions simple and respectful goes a long way.
Consider this scenario, you are talking to a female SVP of your company at a business networking event and a male SVP from another company joins you. As they are both of the same level, whom do you introduce first: man or woman, employee or guest, older or younger, tall or short?
If you are unsure, there will be a bit of discomfort in those first few seconds, which won’t boost your own self-confidence in the situation. This may reflect in your facial expression, tone of voice, demeanour and even your posture!
Here are some easy to remember guidelines to follow which will help you to feel poised, polished and professional when meeting people and making introductions:
- Introduce people in business based on rank, not gender or age.
- In business, the client, guest or visitor outranks the boss or co-worker and should be introduced first.
- Always smile and maintain eye contact.
- Shake a woman and man’s hand the same, straight up and down. Extend a good, firm (not painful) handshake to exhibit respect, trust, and acceptance.
- Keep the forms of address equal to avoid differential treatment or the appearance of preferential treatment.
- Do not call a person by his or her first name when meeting or being introduced for the first time. Use their title and last name until invited to be on a first-name basis.
- Never use an honorific such as Ms., Mr., or Dr. to introduce yourself.
- Demonstrate professionalism and credibility by clearly stating your full name.
Always show respect
Always introduce the man to the woman. I know, women like to be treated as equals, however, much as women don’t like these days to be known as the ‘fairer sex’, it’s still polite and demonstrates a little deference that is always looked upon favourably.
What about age differences? Respect our elders by introducing younger people to those who are older.
In business settings, you show respect to senior members of your team by introducing a person of lower rank (especially if they are new to their role) to the person of a higher position.
- Introduce the person of lower rank to the person of higher rank, regardless of age or gender.
- Example: “Mr. Manager, I would like to introduce Jean Junior from Human Resources.”
Introducing a business associate of any rank and a client
- Introduce the business associate to the client, regardless of rank, age, or gender.
- Example: “Mr. Client, please meet our Managing Director, Greg Manning.”
- Introduce the person that you don’t know as well to the person you know better.
- Example: Let’s say your manager, Greg Manning is meeting the manager of the Singapore office, Mary Lim. “Greg, I’d like you to meet the manager of the Singapore Office, Mary Lim.”
- Introduce the man to the woman
- Example: “Mary, this is Kevin Jones who has been setting up the music for this event.”
- Introduce the younger person to the older person.
- Example: “Mr. Mature, I’d like you to meet my friend Shireen. She’s my friend from university.”
- Introduce the person to the relative.
- Example: “Mum, I would like to introduce my boyfriend, Tony.”
- Introduce the group to the individual.
- Example: “Greg, I would like you to meet Shireen, Tony, and Gwen.”
Notes on group introductions:
Say the names of everyone in the group slowly so that your guest will have a greater chance of remembering them.
What to Do When Being Introduced
- “I’ve heard such great things about you.”
- “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
- “It’s great to finally meet you.”
(If you are a man, when meeting a woman, wait to see if she extends her hand first. If you are a woman meeting another man or woman, offer your hand. Remember this guide is for a Western business environment. In different cultures there will be different rules.)
- Use common sense. If in a formal situation and you haven’t been given permission to call someone by their first name, use the title they are known by, Mr., Dr or Mrs.
- Always stand up for introductions, whether you are male or female.
- Make sure you know how to pronounce people’s names correctly when making introductions.
- Say something interesting about the person you’re introducing to make the transition into a conversation easier, for example:
Greg: “Welcome to Sydney, Mary. Have you managed to see much of the sights so far?”
This is an instant opportunity for a conversation about Sydney to break the ice.
 How to Make Introductions Like a Gentleman, The Art of Manliness, 10 August 2010.