Mind Your Manners: Make your handshake count

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Ever wonder how to properly introduce someone at a business function or social event? Introductions create memorable first impressions. Demonstrating this simple skill not only puts others at ease in a friendly and considerate manner, it puts your best self forward.

The four categories and basic rules to introductions are:

1. When two men or two women in the same age category are introduced, it does not matter whose name is spoken first. (e.g., "John, I would like you to meet Dave. Dave, this is John.")

2. A women's name is always spoken first when introducing a man and a woman. (e.g., "Kathy, I would like you to meet John. John, this is Kathy.")

3. When introducing an older person and a younger person, the older person's name is spoken first. (e.g., "Ms. Smith, I would like you to meet my friend, Grace. Grace, this is Ms. Smith.")

4. When introducing a VIP to anyone, the name and title of the VIP is spoken first. (e.g., "Senator Smith, I would like you to meet Cheryl. Cheryl, this is Senator Smith.") Examples of VIP are doctors, judges, government officials, military officers, etc.

When being introduced, make eye contact, smile, firmly grasp the other person's hand (yes, ladies, a firm handshake is a sign of confidence) and respond with "How are you, Dave." Or "I'm pleased to meet you, Cheryl." Always repeat the person's name to help you remember. There is nothing more flattering that later, perhaps 30 minutes into the event, being able to recall that person's name when it's your turn to make the introduction.

A lead-in can also be helpful to create conversation, especially when you now the two you are introducing to one another have something in common. (e.g., "Amanda, this is Susie Brown. Susie loves golf and we play on regular basis. Susie, this is Amanda.")

In a business encounter, it is critical to remember that when you introduce a prospective client to the CEO of your company, the client becomes the VIP and his/her name is spoken first. (e.g., John, I'd like you to meet our CEO, Michael Burnett. Mr. Burnett, John Smith with xyz company.")

Final reminders: The first handshake you encounter will tell a person a lot about you. The clasp of the shake is more important than the shake. Always lock thumbs with the other person. If you are sitting when people approach, always stand when you are introduced to someone, man or woman. Your voice, your handshake, and your eye contact must be strong in order to give others a favorable impression.

Diane Massey is director and founder of The Berkshire School of Etiquette & Business Protocol. She trained at the American School of Protocol in Atlanta, Ga. Her sought-after seminars empower individuals with the knowledge and skills of modern day etiquette to take action personally and professionally with confidence and courtesy, in a spirit of cooperation and awareness of others, every day in every way. www.berkshireschoolofetiquette.com.


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