Business Etiquette – How to Make Introductions

The success or failure of a commercial partnership often hinges on the initial meeting between two parties. First impressions matter greatly in the business world and may significantly impact both individual careers and entire companies. We’ve all felt nervous or experienced an awkward moment or two at a business meeting or introduction, especially when meeting new people.

The following guidelines will help you make a better first impression when meeting new business associates, clients, etc., and improve the way you run meetings overall. For more information, consult an etiquette book.

1.   Don’t Be Discriminatory:

You should never use the rules of introduction to put persons of a different race, color, religion, or sexual orientation in a lesser social category. It would be totally unacceptable and unfair to treat them that way.

The point of a “designed” introduction is to show respect to a presumptive social order based on position or performance, not to denigrate or “classify” other people.

2.   Introducing New People:

Make sure the two persons you’re introducing have enough in common to start a conversation. Think about the seniority differences between the persons you’re introducing.

  • No matter the age or gender difference, the more powerful person should be introduced to the less powerful person first.
  • Instead of introducing clients to employees, switch roles.
  • When introducing two people of same or similar status, it is polite to introduce the one you don’t know as well to the one you do.
  • Introduce someone with their proper title (doctor, professor, senator) if they have one.

3.   Never be Afraid to Respond with “No”:

Finally, if someone asks you to make an introduction and you feel uneasy doing so, it’s okay to decline. You shouldn’t feel obligated to help everyone who asks. Be cordial, but don’t feel awful politely declining a request from a junior colleague to introduce her to every top executive you know.

Your network is unique to you because you have worked to cultivate those connections. You care about keeping these relationships going strong and you value the individuals in it. Making introductions is a terrific way to expand your circle of contacts and strengthen existing bonds, but you shouldn’t force things if you have a bad feeling about the other person’s reaction or if you think they’d rather not meet.

When You First Meet Someone:

Here are some rules to live by when making an introduction:

  • It is considered rude to remain seated while being introduced. The simplest way to convey your happiness after meeting someone new is with a smile. Not smiling at someone might be off-putting.
  • During the brief time spent introducing yourself, make eye contact with the other person to show that you are paying attention to them.
  • Convey confidence, and competence with a firm handshake. A firm grip is essential for a proper handshake. The proper way to shake hands is to grasp the other person’s right hand with your right and bring the web of your thumb and forefinger to meet the same spot on their right hand. Keep a strong grip and pump your arms up and down two or three times while locking eyes with the other person.
  • Don’t expect your brain to automatically file away a name; instead, make a conscious effort to recall it.
  • It depends on the situation whether you should address someone by their first name or a formal title (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.). A decent rule of thumb is to continue using the title unless the other person specifically requests that you stop.
  • Disseminate business cards properly, and only to those with whom you have a good chance of collaborating in the future.


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