Business Etiquette:  Introductions

Like most professionals, I periodically attend a CLE or some type of industry conference.  In addition to valuable information, these events also provide great opportunities to meet new contacts and develop professional relationships.  This year, I am attending the annual conference hosted by the “National Association of Legal Placement” aka NALP, attended by many leaders in the legal recruiting space from across the country.  It’s a significant investment of time and money and I want to be confident in meeting new people and making a good first impression, so I brushed up on the etiquette around introductions.  Below are some tips on this critical professional skill that will help you make the most of your next business event.

Introductions step by step:  

When you meet someone, stand up, smile, look the person in the eye, extend your hand for a firm shake, and clearly state your name and business: “Hi, I’m Tori Keith.  I’m with Parker Lynch Legal.”  The other person extends their arm, gives a firm grip shake, and says the same, “Hi, I’m Sherry Smith, with ABC law firm.”  Be prepared to exchange a few social pleasantries, such as “Where are you from?  How is the conference going for you?  I’ve heard great things about your firm.  My colleague does business with your firm in New York.”

  • How firm a handshake?  Peter Post says the strength of turning a door knob
  • Names?  When in doubt, go formal (i.e. Mr./Ms. Sir/Ma’am, Elizabeth not Liz)
  • STAND don’t reach across the table or remain seated.

Who do you introduce to whom?

Speak first to the person most important or the one you want to honor:  Mr. Client, I’d like you to meet our senior partner, Betsy Smith.”

  • Forget someone’s name?  Admit it (we’ve all done it), apologize and move on: “Please remind me of your name.  I’m Tori Keith” (they probably forgot your name too).
  • If you mispronounce someone’s name, do the same: admit, apologize, and repeat correctly.

Business cards   

Even in the digital age, business cards serve an important role in meeting people and developing business relationships.  They define who you are and your job responsibilities, invite people to contact you, and inform them how to contact you.  Include your name, title, company or firm, address, phone number, email and social media (especially your Twitter handle and LinkedIn profile)

You should give your card to, and ask for one from, those with whom you expect to do business:

  • At the start of a meeting
  • After introductions
  • In response to receiving one
  • At the end of a meeting or interaction
  • Have enough cards for everyone

When receiving a card, look at it carefully and put it away carefully.  

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