The purpose of introducing people is to give them an opportunity to know each other. Beyond just stating names of the two parties, it is often the obligation of the person making the introduction to establish an acquaintance and help the two parties initiate a conversation.
Four Steps for Introductions
The basic protocol of introductions calls for introducing the ‘lesser-ranking’ (socially, professionally, by age or seniority) to the ‘higher-ranking’ person. Here are four steps.
- First, state the name of the person being introduced to. This is the ‘higher-ranking’ person.
- Second, say “I would like to introduce” or, “please meet” or, “this is,” etc.
- Third, state the name of the person being introduced. This is the ‘lower-ranking’ person.
- Finally, offer some details of each other, as appropriate. As I wrote in a previous blog article, add a snippet of information about a topic of common interest between the two parties. Do not elaborate. This will help them connect and pursue a conversation.
When introducing people of equal seniority or status, you may introduce either person to the other.
A Few Examples
- Introduce a younger person to an older person. “Grandma, please meet Alicia and Carlos, my neighbors.”
- Introduce a relatively junior professional to a senior professional. “Ms. Director, I would like to introduce Mr. Nakamura, the Chief Product Architect for our software division.”
- Introduce an employee to a customer. “Mr. Sung, I would like to introduce our plastics engineering team. This is Mark Smith, Jessica Ramos and Liang Zhu. All three participated in last week’s teleconference regarding product definition.”
- Introduce a host to a guest. “Elaine, I don’t think you have met my daughter, Anna. Anna arranged for all the food at this festival party. Anna, Elaine is my Project Manager.”
- Introduce a local guest to a from-another-town guest. “Charlie, this is Debbie. Debbie is my colleague from work. Debbie, Charlie is visiting me from New York. We shared an apartment when we were at Columbia together.”
- Introduce a peer from your company to a peer from another organization. “Melissa, I would like you to meet Steve, our Systems Engineer. Steve, Melissa Hoffmann is from Marketing. She is our Account Manager for Wal-Mart.”
Customarily, a number of people introduce a man to a woman out of respect, regardless of the guidelines presented above.
When introducing a man and a woman at work, consider their positions and seniorities alone. Outside of work, it may be more appropriate to introduce a man to a woman, in contradiction to the above guidelines. Only be judicious and sensitive.
Many people have difficulty introducing people to one another and helping establish a conversation. With some practice and a sense of social and/or professional ranking, you too can master the art of introductions.