Introductions seem to come upon us almost as often as handshakes, and most of us remain challenged remembering names, let alone how to execute a flawless business introduction.
Therefore, when it comes to introductions, this seemingly simple, everyday ordinary act is actually far more intricate than you might think. Yet, at the same time, introductions present an invaluable opportunity to show you know “the difference,” while demonstrating respect and quietly standing apart.
Your goal as you introduce others is to do so seamlessly and make others feel you are genuinely pleased to facilitate this introduction and have them meet each other.
Understanding the Rules of Business Introductions
Did you know there is a difference between a business and a social introduction? There is! Knowing this and showing you know “the difference” is impressive and compelling.
Social introductions are based on age/gender; business introductions are governed by rank/status.
Rule: Always Say the Most Important Name First.
Instantly serving up their full name will make their name dominant while greatly assisting others in remembering names!
Something as seemingly facile as knowing how to execute the rather complex proper business introduction begs the questions…. what else in business do you take the time, make the effort to learn about in advance, practice, master, execute? Hence, the trust factor is ignited and business relationships are kindled.
Rule: Keep Phrasing in Mind.
With business introductions, there is specific wording and phrasing (an actual formula and prepositional phrase) which absolutely needs to remain intact. Also, there are no gender rules in business. Regardless of gender, always defer to rank/status.
Formula for a correct business introduction:
Mr./Ms. Senior Executive,…
May I introduce (the most professional)
May I present (the most formal) …
… “To YOU” (prepositional phrase) …. Mr./Ms. Junior Executive.
Mr./ Ms. Senior Executive is our new Senior Counsel for the Americas and Mr./Ms. Junior Executive is our new Vice President of Operations.
Then say something which will serve as a lead-in for future conversation, which has nothing to do with business at hand, i.e. “…and I understand you both enjoy time both on and off the tennis courts.”
Dr. Phil McGraw (Mr. Senior person) “may I introduce to you” (the most professional phrasing)
OR, “may I present to you” (the most formal phrasing)… Ms. Jones (Ms. Junior person)
Note: if you were to invert the order of the prepositional phrase you would completely invert the order of importance. Hence, the prepositional phrase must remain intact.
If you have forgotten one person’s first name say, “Dr. McGraw, may I introduce to you, Ms. Jones.” The consistency is key. Also, match honorific to honorific, first name to first name, last name to last name.
Rule: Give Specifics
Next, identify each person. Who are they?
“Dr. McGraw, known as Dr. Phil, is internationally recognized psychologist and author, and Ms. Jones is our new Global Marketing Director.” Then say something non-business related to help them launch into conversation. “Do I understand you both love the Amalfi Coast?”
In providing the association, you supply a thread from which to sew future seeds of connections while quietly standing apart.
Additional Introduction Tips
Position the most important person to your right, if possible.
• Look at each person as you say their name.
• Speak clearly; do not rush to get thru this.
• Stand for all introductions, out of respect.
• Introduce “level to level.”
Sending a junior level representative to meet with a very senior level person is considered an insult, particularly in other countries.
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order or things.”
~ Niccolo Machiavelli
FAQs for Business Introductions
Q: I was attending a networking event with a prospective client and a very loyal long-term client when the CEO of my firm unexpectedly stopped by. Whose name would I say first? Who is the most important person, the CEO or the long-term client?
A. The CEO is actually the least important person here because, without the client – (both long-term and prospective) … there is no company, and therefore no position of CEO. Ergo, the CEO is actually the least important person to be considered for this introduction.
Q. What about between the loyal long-term client and the prospective client?
A. Although clearly, we value the loyalty of the long-term client relationship, we want the new business.
That said, we certainly do not intend to take this relationship for granted. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the loyal long-term client with whom you presumably have a solid relationship, then say the name of the prospective client first, remembering to subtly maneuver and position the most important person to your right whenever possible.
Bonus Tip: Anyone in government trumps individuals at all levels in the private sector in order of importance.
If you enjoyed these business protocol tips and think you could benefit from further coaching in this area or any other area of your financial advisor practice, contact us today!
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