Etiquette for the Introduction of Meeting Dignitaries in Business

Written by ann mazzaferro
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Etiquette for the Introduction of Meeting Dignitaries in Business
Introducing dignitaries in business settings requires planning and practice. ( Images)

Whether it involves an ambassador and a senior partner or a senior partner and a university provost, introducing dignitaries in business situations can be as complicated as chess. Don't be intimidated or overwhelmed by etiquette. Most situations require that you introduce dignitaries in order of rank, with a few exceptions. A little practice and research can ensure that you make the right moves.

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By Rank

In most situations, the dignitary of the highest rank is presented to those of a lower rank. The ranking of dignitaries varies by culture and country, making it extremely difficult to discern whom should be introduced first. In this case, it's wise to consult an etiquette expert in your host country. However, if you're a welcoming a dignitary to a business event in your country -- such as a chancellor to your law firm, or visiting ambassador to an event that you're hosting in her honour -- you introduce the dignitary first to all guests, beginning with the senior member of your business team. Introductions should be brief and articulate, and they should use the full title of each of your guests.

By Gender

In the case of introducing two dignitaries of equivalent rank to each other, the man is always introduced to the woman. There are some exceptions to this rule, however: If the dignitaries are of the same gender, the visiting dignitary is introduced first as a sign of respect to his status as a visitor. If you're introducing a visiting male dignitary to a female president or ruler of a country, the woman is introduced first.

By Age

In the case of two visiting dignitaries of the same gender -- for example, two visiting female appellate court judges at a debate sponsored by your law firm -- the older dignitary is introduced first as a sign of respect to his age.

Situations to Avoid

You can avoid awkward situations by introducing a dignitary to an assemblage of guests, then remaining close to the dignitary and conducting one-on-one introductions as the need arises. Always "introduce to someone"; do not "introduce someone to." Do not feel compelled as the host to include small talk in these introductions, such as commonalities between the guests and inquiries as to health. That's up to your guests later. Focus on keeping introductions concise and polite.

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