Success often boils down to who you know instead of what you know. In business, who you know are the contacts you make during your career and these contacts can be made in various ways. Whether it is at an interview, a business meeting, a networking function or even the supermarket checkout lane, the introduction creates a lasting impression with the contact that can help open doors for you.
Proper business etiquette for an introduction is made up of four fundamental skills.
- Standing Up
- Eye contact
- Firm Handshake
When meeting someone it is important to stand up. Rising from the conference table, your desk or the table at the restaurant shows that you respect the other person and puts you on equal footing for the beginning of your relationship.
Remember that the introduction is the first impression the other person has of you, so you should always be smiling. Smiling presents a positive image and attitude and failing to smile can lead the other person to think you are uninterested in them.
Eye contact is another key component of the introduction. By making eye contact, you are focused on the other person and show them that you are interested.
A firm handshake is essential to a positive introduction. It shows you are professional and confident. To perform a proper handshake, you should fit your hand into theirs to where the webbing between your thumb and forefinger meet. Squeeze firmly and shake once or twice. If you have clammy hands, it is ok to sneak in a quick wipe to dry your hand before the handshake“ no one likes shaking a moist hand. You do not want your handshake to be too firm, demonstrates overconfidence, or too weak, demonstrates nervousness.
It is proper business etiquette to make your own introductions if no one is introducing you. Do not be overly aggressive or too shy good a rule of thumb is to approach the person or group, hold out your hand, say hello and give your name, company and title. This additional information will help break the ice and help jump start the conversation.
After being introduced, continue to use the person’s title (Mr., Dr., Professor, etc) until that person says otherwise. Most people struggle with remembering names, so by remembering it, you are showing that person how important they are. Use whatever memory trick works for you to remember the person’s name and then, if necessary, write it down afterwards. If you do forget a name, it is ok to ask them to repeat it, but be apologetic and make a better attempt to remember it the next time.
When you are making the introductions, business etiquette says
- The most powerful person should be introduced first
- Follow that with your clients, high level executives, or special guests
- Always use the person’s title when introducing them
Following these steps will help all of your introductions turn out positively and as your business rolodex grows with contacts so will the opportunities for you to move up the corporate ladder or land your dream job. Remember it’s all about who you know.
Jules HirstÂ is a sought after speaker and a recognized etiquette coach.
She conducts lectures, workshops, seminars and webinars in business, social & wedding etiquette. Jules co-author Power of Civility where she shares strategies and tools for building an exceptional professional image.