Online services like LinkedIn make it a snap to introduce colleagues or acquaintances.  A simple click and it’s done!  Your effort to broker a conversation is complete. Now the new correspondents can get to know each other better through the magic of email.

But what if you are introducing people in real life?  You can’t just spill out contact information when the people are standing right in front of you and expect them to start up a dialogue from there.   To make an effective in person introductions, you need to follow a few simple ideas.

  • Think about whom to introduce first.  Etiquette guidance experts feel that it is challenging, but important, to start by deciphering who you should name first when you are making an introduction.  The Emily Post website even notes that “many people think that introducing themselves or introducing others is so complicated that they tend to avoid doing it altogether” and has a handy chart (http://www.emilypost.com/everyday-manners) of who you should name first.  If you are introducing two people, then you have a 50% chance of getting it “right” and figuring out who should be introduced to whom.  Those are pretty good odds, but, even more important is just making the introduction.  If you can, try to name the person in authority, or highest-ranking person first, but, unless you are dealing with royalty or political honorees, don’t stress too much about it.
  • Focus on making a great platform for an introduction. As anxious as you might be to foster a connection between people, getting the timing right can really help make things go smoothly.  It’s hard to break up an active conversation to add someone new to the mix.  Best to wait until the end of a monologue or story before capturing attention for your new additions to the group.  Also, you want your new connections to have a chance to speak directly so you probably don’t want to launch your intro right as the band starts playing its first song, or the speeches are just starting.
  • Transition is everything.  Yes, everyone has the weather in common, but if you can start by sharing a topic that the new group may have in common, then the conversation can progress on its own.  Shared connections, recent trips, work histories, or simply explaining how you know each party, can emphasize what they may have in common and why they may enjoy further conversation.

The more that you practice introductions; the more you will excel at it.  Wikihow has a full- blown tutorial and other sites like personalitytutor.com also offer advice and etiquette guidelines.  After all, “introducing people is both an art and a means of ensuring good manners. A good introduction can get people off to a great conversational start and can help ease any discomfort or unease at meeting for the first time”.   It’s also a lot of fun.