Lovely to Meet You!
In the first in this series of interviews, business etiquette consultant Jo Caruana highlights why – especially in business – courtesy is king. And beginning at the beginning: it’s all about your introduction.
Jo Caruana has been a business etiquette coach since 2015. As a PR consultant and writer too, she combines her skills to give her customers an outside eye on their brands and businesses, while also guiding them on how to blend the two more effectively. Her first tip? It starts at the very beginning.
“An introduction done right is one of the most powerful ways to get someone to remember you,” Jo says. “I can’t tell you how many people I know simply let it go by the wayside, either out of shyness or because they don’t realise how important it is. “But it really is vital to take that moment to stop and have that connection with the person you are meeting. Rise from your chair, smile, make eye contact and, if culturally-appropriate to do so, extend a strong handshake.”
Then make your greeting of choice – but avoid a simple ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’. “It’s always nice to feel that the other person is genuinely pleased to be there,” Jo continues. “So I opt for something along the lines of ‘Good afternoon, it is a pleasure to meet you’.
“And to follow on from that, when asked how you are, I always prefer an eager ‘Very well thank you!’ rather than a lackluster ‘Fine, thanks’ or similar. I believe enthusiasm works well when you’re meeting someone for the first time, and aligns neatly with etiquette’s golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated.”
Meanwhile, there’s the added potential bonus of introducing others as well as yourself, something that can also prove lacking in business situations.
“I often find myself in meetings when I know the person I have been liaising with – perhaps on email or over the phone – but don’t know anyone else in the room. At that point, it would be nice if the contact person took control and made the connection but – again probably due to shyness or a fear of creating an awkward situation – they stay quiet – which in turn creates an uncomfortable situation of its own.
“The easiest and best thing to do here is to grab the proverbial bull by the horns and make sure everyone knows everyone. You can use language like ‘Mr Zammit, allow me to introduce Mr Lia our purchasing manager – he’ll be helping to explain this new project to you’. Of course, if first names feel more appropriate, go ahead and use those. This works equally well for business networking events and social activities.”
Finally as a bonus tip, Jo suggests always adding a little bit of interesting information about the person you’re introducing to help build rapport between them. “It could be something as simple as how long they’ve been with the company, the fact they just got back from a trip, or where they are originally from. The hope here is that you can find something that builds a connection between then, helps the conversation along, and makes everyone feel more comfortable so business can be done.”