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January 2017 23
Many of my adult clients avoid
introducing themselves to new
people because they feel awkward.
They are nervous and they are at
a loss for words. They don’t know
what to do with their hands. Some
people are the opposite – they
overcompensate by raising their
voices to feign confidence or
even inadvertently ask intrusive
questions and make inappropriate
If you met someone who
behaved like this, would you want
to do business with them? Chances
are that you will think, no.
Every CPA or corporate
employee should know how to
properly introduce himself or
herself to a new client, colleague,
or supplier. It helps you project an
image of being savvy, respectful,
competent, and credible. Being
polished helps you work effectively
with co-workers, influence
prospects, and strengthen client
This year, enhance your
executive presence by following
these simple business etiquette tips.
Seven steps for
The guidelines below are globally
accepted norms but have distinct
national variations. Take the time
to learn these differences because
Hong Kong’s business community is
wonderfully diverse, with people
coming from all over the world.
Stand – When being introduced to
someone, stand up to show respect.
If you are physically unable to stand
up, simply say, “Pardon me for
Good posture – Foster a command-
ing presence by standing erect and
your eyes leveled. Keep your arms
and hands relaxed at your sides.
Eye contact – In Hong Kong,
steady eye contact during a conver-
sation is acceptable.
Smile – Chinese business greet-
ings generally do not include much
smiling. However, consider smiling
slightly to show friendliness.
Handshake – I suggest that people
develop a firm handshake (not too
hard, not too soft). In Hong Kong,
be prepared to receive handshakes
that are firm, soft, or even non-
existent (from germaphobes)!
“Hello, my name is [first name]
[last name]” – When meeting new
acquaintances use more formal
language, such as saying “hello”
instead of “hi.” Introduce yourself
with your full name.
Clear voice – Speak audibly so the
other person can hear your name
and remember it easily.
“Common sense is not
so common” – Voltaire
A business executive once told me
that she thought these steps were
“very basic” and asked when she
could learn advanced material. My
response: knowing and doing are
not the same thing.
For example, compare a five-
year-old child and the world-
famous Lang Lang playing the
basic C major scale on the piano.
They may play the exact same
notes with the same fingering but
Lang Lang would undoubtedly do
so with vastly superior artistry and
control of volume, speed, fluidity
The same comparison can
be made between someone who
knows business etiquette and goes
through the motions, and a master
of etiquette who navigates even the
most sensitive social interactions
with ease and grace.
Elevate yourself to a
Where the etiquette of self-
introductions is concerned, you will
know you are operating at a high
level when you:
Always feel relaxed and confident
Mindfully use calm, composed
Introduce yourself without
accidentally interrupting the
Effortlessly recall the other
Know what to do in tricky situa-
tions (e.g. when the other person
doesn’t introduce themselves, is
inaudible, has a difficult name,
an unusual handshake, a missing
or disabled right hand, etc.)
Can quickly start a conversation
and find common ground
for further discussion and
Master the essentials until your
self-introduction is flawless and
personalized, and you can improvise
like a seasoned jazz musician when
something unexpected occurs.
These are the hallmarks of a senior
Rather than worrying about memo-
rizing countless rules or robotically
reciting your self-introduction, focus
on understanding why etiquette exists
in the first place. It facilitates smooth,
effective relationships. As etiquette
expert Emily Post wrote, “Good man-
ners reflect something from inside
an innate sense of consideration for
others and respect for self.” When
you believe and act on this principle,
your business acquaintances will
remember and appreciate you for
your professionalism and polish.
...refine business etiquette
The Founder and Director of the Etiquette
and Leadership Institute, on how CPAs
can enhance their overall presence when
meeting diverse people
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