Proper Business Etiquette for Greeting People

by Cindy Anderson; Updated September 26, 2017
Smiling businesswoman shaking hands

In the business world, if you do not make a good first impression, you may not get another chance. According to an article in Psychology Today, people will make judgments about you in as little as 20 seconds, based upon their first impression. So knowing how to greet a person in a confident and friendly manner is extremely important. By using these simple strategies, you will be able to get off to a good start.

Face-to-Face Greeting

Standing up and coming out from behind a desk to greet someone is a good strategy because it gives the impression that you have enough respect for the person to greet them eye-to-eye. Remaining behind a desk puts you in an authoritative position (not equal to the newcomer), which could be perceived as unfriendly or disrespectful.

Friendly, Confident Facial Features

Making an effort to display a genuine smile and look the newcomer in the eye shows that you are friendly and confident. According to Psychology Today, others are very good at reading your facial expressions (and making judgments based upon them).

Introduction and Handshake

When you introduce yourself, you should say your first and last name, as in, "Hello, I'm Joan Smith." This is more formal than just giving your first name and is appropriate for a first-time greeting. The handshake also gives an important impression of you and must be done properly. Either party may extend their hand first, and you should grip firmly, but without undo strength. (Remember, it is not a contest.) The handshake only needs to last about 3 to 4 seconds.

Elevator Speech

It is very useful to develop what is often called an "elevator speech," or a 20 to 30 second description of your role in the business. It is called so because it is supposed to be brief enough to tell to a fellow elevator passenger on the way down (or up). A practiced elevator speech will help you to become more polished in the introduction of yourself. These are especially useful if you will be attending meetings or receptions where you will have to introduce yourself to many new people.

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