One of the key areas taught in business etiquette is how to meet and receive people. It is very important to create a good first impression and be professional as a representative of the organization as this may be the only contact the person may have with the organization.
Always stand up to meet the person and greet them in an appropriate manner. Make them feel welcome with your smile, good eye contact and friendly tone. Do introduce yourself and when you find out the other person’s name, try to address them by title and full name. If they invite you to call them by first name, do learn their name by repeating as you hear it. Research has shown that about 60% of people forget a person’s name within the first minute. Be honest and apologize if you do not remember their name or cannot pronounce it, as most people understand.
The handshake is a common form of greeting and is a symbol of respect and welcome. It can tell others how confident you are or how much respect you have for others. Exchange a good handshake with a relatively firm grip, but do not squeeze down on the other person’s hand. There is no need prove your strength and crush the other person’s hand. Do not overstress or prolong the handshake – about three pumps or two to three seconds will suffice. In some Asian societies, a woman offers her hand first, especially when her religion does not permit her to shake hands with the opposite gender. But if you are the service provider, you should offer your hand to your customers or clients. A quick release from the handshake shows disinterest, but holding the hand too long makes another feel overpowered. Never use your thumb and two fingers to shake the person’s fingers instead of their hand as this is rude and insincere. Also, do not offer the “power-hungry” handshake by turning over the other person’s hand and pumping their hand downwards or by offering your hand with palm faced down.
Having name cards with you wherever you go is important as you never know when you may meet someone new and want to connect with. Do store them in a name card holder and keep them in your shirt pocket (men) or in a side pocket of your handbag (ladies). Never offer a card that has been kept below your waistline, i.e. kept in your trousers pockets as it may get crumpled or damaged. Use both hands to present and give with the words facing the receiver. When receiving, also use both hands to accept it. When given a name card, take some time to read it first. You may want to comment positively on the person’s company or job title, but do not feel the texture or comment on the style or quality. Never scribble words on the reverse side of a card just received. Name cards can be given after introductions, then leave the name cards in view, either by holding it in your hand, or placing them on the table. If you need to take points of the meeting and you do not have a memo pad, write only when you are out of sight of the card-giver. Alternatively, you may give the name card at the end of the meeting, especially at a networking session.
In business, when you need to introduce others, do note that these are based on rank and that the rule of gender does not apply. That is, a lower ranking person is introduced to a higher ranking person. So we say the name of the person to whom you want to show greater respect / honour first, i. e. Visiting Dignitaries / Customers / Clients / External Party get priority. Here are some examples: “Mr VIP, may I introduce Mr Small”, “Mrs Senior, I would like to introduce Ms Junior” or “Ms Client, I would like you to meet Mr Boss”.
Remember, the first few seconds of interaction either make or break the deal. A positive impression can lead you to many other opportunities as you are seen as professional and respectful by following the expected protocol.