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9/30/2002

Master the Art of Introductions

Kate Traynor

When you know the basics of business etiquette, you can avoid making embarrassing gaffes when called on to introduce people to each other.

The boss comes first. When introducing two people of unequal rank, always introduce the person with the higher rank to the lower-placed person.

A proper introduction could consist of something like this:

"Dr. Jones, I'd like you to meet Mr. Student, who is here for a four-week rotation in the drug information center. Mr. Student, this is Dr. Jones, our pharmacy director."

It may be appropriate to offer each party's full name when performing an introduction, but be wary of using the first names of high-ranking persons.

Give some background. Include in the introduction enough information to allow the parties to have a short conversation. In the example above, Dr. Jones and Mr. Student could speak briefly about the staff or activities of the drug information center. Providing a conversational opening is especially important if you are in a group setting and cannot devote your full attention to keeping the new acquaintances talking.

Get the names right. If you are unsure how to pronounce the names of the parties being introduced, find out the correct pronunciation before bringing the people together.

If you begin an introduction but forget one person's name, quickly and briefly apologize and wait for that person to volunteer the forgotten name. Once an introduction has begun, it should proceed until all names are exchanged, despite any memory lapses from the introducer.

Introduce yourself. When you have an opportunity to meet a new colleague but there is no one to make a formal introduction, you can introduce yourself. Simply extend your hand, make eye contact, and politely state your name and some identifying information, such as your department or organization:

"Hello, I am Jane Pharmacist, of Main Street Hospital."

Even if you have met the person before, it may a good idea to offer your name again, because the person may have forgotten who you are. By providing your name right away, you spare the other person the embarrassment of trying to remember your name.