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My first idea were some like so: "Es ist eine große Ehre mit Ihnen in Kontakt zu treten." Is it ok? What would you say?

P.s. he is much more older as me.

  • Well, I consider this to be half off topic, as I'm not an expert on Knigge. However, I would not use it. Too much politeness can quickly be felt as inappropriate and might lead to the conclusion that you actually don't like that person. I would first think about why some VIP actually made a contact request to me - routine? Genuine interest? – Veredomon Oct 4 '14 at 11:53
  • Did the person in question send any words along with the request? – Matthias Oct 4 '14 at 12:05
  • @Veredomon I don't know surely, but I think he wants to optimize his contact portfolio. :-) Or maybe he wants to collect potential contacts for the future. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Oct 4 '14 at 12:06
  • @Matthias Yes, he simply calls me in his network. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Oct 4 '14 at 12:08
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    @PeterHorvath: Then I would be polite, but not too polite. "Große Ehre" is very overblown. I believe that "great honor" is not as strong as it is in German - I have the feeling that especially Americans tend to exaggerate (from a German POV!). Often, when I read press statements from American companies, I think, my goodness, you sell a phone and haven't traveled to another solar system. – Veredomon Oct 4 '14 at 12:32
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As I wrote in my comments, this question is partly OT and difficult to answer, as the exact circumstances are not known. Think about that politeness is different in German - English people switched to the polite form "you" at some point and dropped thou, and then you of course became profane. We still have three distinctions (Sie, Sie with given name and Du), and this reflects into the rest of the language. How polite someone is to me - has to be - depends on a variety of factors:

  • His rank compared to mine
  • the nature of the request

So my boss can be less polite if he tells me to do something, especially if he has to remind me because I'm overdue; but he has to be more polite if he wants something I'm not obliged to do, like some private favor. I think that is different in English, as Germans working in the US/GB told me that polite remarks to your work can actually mean "that's the worst crap I've ever seen".
To be too polite is not a good idea; as we have those distinctions, we have to use it. It would be awkward if my boss asks me: "Is it possible to look after ?". I might come to the conclusion that he's playing some strange game with me. On the other hand, he cannot say "Sie haben mir bis morgen die Zahlen vorzulegen" if he just assigns me a task and has to expect that I will do it. I would then think that he doesn't have trust in me to do my work properly, or he just think that I am a low servant.

Now let's think about a VIP making a contact request to me: yes, he is higher ranking, but not in respect to me. That someone is the CEO of a multinational corporation is not relevant if I don't work for him or want to be his supplier/work with him.

So I assume he is either interested in you or your company. I would then stay polite, thank for his interest, but keep my distance. If I'd think that he's rather interested to my company than myself, I would use "we" in my answer.

And in the end he'll probably see that you're not a native speaker, people tend to be somewhat forgiving on that.

I would probably resort to:

"Sehr geehrter Herr (Dr.) X,
ich bedanke mich für Ihr Interesse und verbleibe mit freundlichem Gruß [optional: nach town]
Full Name".

  • I'd like to add that being too polite might also come across as irony or even sarcasm. – Roman Reiner Oct 4 '14 at 14:52
  • No-no, he is not so high ranked. Only the CEO of a small but old German company. What I practically needed were some simple sentence. Yes, I know he will see I am not native, but it is well known from my profile from the first moment. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Oct 4 '14 at 14:55
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I'd suggest

Sehr geehrter Herr (Dr.) X,
gerne bestätige ich Ihre Kontaktanfrage.

Vielen Dank und freundliche Grüße, X.Y.

Beside this, I second the arguments in Veredomon's answer.

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    Thank you very much! I favor your solution too, but only I could give only a single "accept" pipe. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Oct 5 '14 at 17:34
  • This answer is much better and simplier. Please, mark it as accepted. – Alex Herman Nov 2 '14 at 14:22

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