If you think introducing yourself to new clients is merely a matter of commonsense, you may be surprised. Proper introductions help establish a credible and productive professional relationship. It is important that all members of your company know the proper way to make client introductions.
- Skill level:
Initiate the introduction. If you are the facilitator of the meeting, the first to meet the client or person responsible for taking care of the client, begin by introducing yourself to the client. Depending on the level of formality at your workplace and past precedent, you may introduce yourself with your surname and title (i.e. Hello, I am Ms. Jones, the director of operations) or give first name and a bit about what you do for the company. It is important that you introduce yourself and any co-workers to the client, rather than vice versa.
Remain gender neutral when introducing yourself or colleagues to a new client. Make business introductions according to each person's professional status, regardless of gender. In this case, if a woman outranks a man, introduce the man to the woman. This differs from traditional social introductions where women are always introduced to men, regardless of professional achievements or status.
Prioritise professional status. Individuals of lower professional rank should be introduced to those of higher professional status, which shows deference and respect. However, keep in mind that when making an introduction to a new client, the client always holds the trump card, as the one with the money in hand. You should begin by introducing the highest-ranking person in the meeting to the client first and move down the line from there.
Follow cultural norms to establish physical contact. In the U.S., a handshake is a traditional way to consummate an introduction. Extend your hand to the client and offer a firm, but not painful, grip and hold the recipient's hand for no more than three pumps.
Slow down and smile when conducting your introduction. No client wants to feel like you are too busy for them or that the experience of meeting them is unpleasant. Asking a generic question is also a good way to put the client at ease, but asking a question specific to her background or industry will show that you took the time to learn a little more about her.
Tips and warnings
- If you are making a new client introduction in a foreign country, research the customary greetings before you leave for the meeting. If you are unsure about the proper greeting procedure check with your boss.
- Make sure your breath is fresh and your hands are washed before you meet a client.
- Speak clearly and use a pleasant tone of voice.
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