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8 Etiquette Tips for Making Introductions

Humans, like all mammals, are social animals. Most of us are surrounded by a small network of family and friends and we need to venture into the unknown in order to create new personal and professional bonds. This involves attending social and business functions which provide the setting to meet new people yet, often, we find ourselves in a room where we know no one and dread the idea of approaching strangers.

On the other hand, as party hosts and business event organisers, we need to encourage mingling and get people talking or else face a room full of blank stares. This is why it is important to master the art of introductions, which is not just about making sure the right people meet each other but also initiating a conversation between them.

How to introduce people and make them feel comfortable

1. Give it some thought
There’s little point in introducing people that have nothing in common and wouldn’t care for each other anyway. So invest some time in figuring out who needs to meet who, e.g. singles who have similar interests or professionals who are in the same industry.

2. Pick the right time
Make sure both parties are engaged and then proceed with the introduction. This is particularly important when attempting to approach senior professionals who are often inundated with introductions and business cards.

3. Establish dynamics
In professional settings, introduce the person sitting lower in hierarchy to the more senior figure. E.g. if x is the company director and y is the new administrator, you should say “Mr x, please meet y, our new administrator”. In social settings, younger people are introduced to older ones and men are introduced to women. It is best to use titles and let people clarify if they prefer to be addressed by their first name.

4. Give some context
Assuming you are introducing two people because you genuinely think they should meet each other, help the conversation along by sharing an interesting fact for each, preferably something they have in common, e.g. a hobby or professional background.

5. Family ties
Couples should always be introduced as separate individuals. Children may be small humans but they are not invisible so introduce them to adults and each other as you would with all other guests.

6. Awkward silences
If you can’t remember someone’s name, just admit it and apologise. They will hopefully deflect attention by introducing themselves. Similarly, if you get someone’s name wrong, gracefully accept their correction and apologise without making a big deal out of it.

7. Wrap it up
Once you made the introductions, hang around for a few minutes to ensure that people have started talking to each other and are comfortable to be left alone with the new acquaintance.

8. Ambushed
If you bump into friends, it is usually polite to introduce whoever you are with but it’s not something you absolutely need to do. If either party is in a rush or eating (e.g. in a restaurant) or in the middle of a conversation, you may want to dispense with introductions and let everyone get on with their life. Similarly, if there is someone in your friends’ group you do not know, it is best to wait to be introduced rather than introduce yourself.

Being a good introducer is more than just facilitation. It shows consideration for guests, it proves that you know a few things about each and, more importantly, it puts you in the centre of a network which could be a huge advantage professionally.

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