READING TIME: 100 Seconds

Introductions are an important part of business. Learn to handle them graciously, and you display the hallmark of a polished business professional.

Introducing Others

If you introduce your boss to a friendly media contact, or a client to someone who can help improve his manufacturing process, or a colleague to someone who can advise her on a better way to get her kids through college, you build more personal capital for yourself. The more accomplished you become at facilitating valid introductions, the more you’ll be noticed as someone with strong and fluid people skills. Get good at introducing people. It’ll make you stand out from the crowd, and people will think you have loads of confidence.

When you have to introduce other people, don’t keep them waiting. Step up and get on with it. Not only will you need to know their names, but good business etiquette demands that you sort out the pecking order. The smaller cheese gets introduced to the bigger cheese. It’s always, “Mr. President, I’d like to introduce Bruce Harris.” Never, “Bruce Harris, I’d like to introduce the president.”

If there are no hierarchical considerations, introduce by age. If you’re making introductions in a group and you encounter someone you don’t know, take the initiative—introduce yourself and say, “My name is So-and-so. I don’t believe we’ve met,” and then include this new acquaintance of yours in the stream of introductions.

Engineering Introductions

If you see someone you’d like to meet at a gathering, ask your host or a mutual friend to introduce you. But don’t leave things to chance. Instead, prepare your own ten-second commercial ahead of time by telling your introducer what to say—your name, perhaps where you’re from, and what you do for a living—whatever you think would most interest the person you’re being introduced to. An informed introduction will come off a lot better than “Margot, this is Jamie. Jamie, Margot.”

If you really want to impress, ask your host to tell you one or two interesting (but not too personal) things about the person you want to meet before he or she introduces you. Then, when you do connect, you can say, “Peter tells me you spent last month cycling through Guatemala. What was your biggest challenge? What inspired you to go?” Knowing something specific and recent about the person you’re meeting allows you to bypass small talk and get to a more personal footing faster.