Formality is the key. Do not use first names unless invited to do so. When you introduce your self, –Karen Williams, you will be called Frau Williams (or they may just Americanize it to make you feel comfortable). People will introduce themselves to you, just using their last names. So you may shake hands with a man who says “Schmidt”, with a brief nod. You would address him as Herr Schmidt. This will occur even when people are your age or younger. If you are introduced to Herr Schmidt, you may say, Karen Williams, or just Williams, as you shake hands.
They may prefer to be introduced or presented to you, rather than you introducing yourself, as we do in America. Germans are more formal there with introductions. It reminds me of finishing school or cotillion introductions. Younger or “lesser” ranks are introduced first, or their names are given first.
Women older than 18 or so, are referred to as Frau, whether or not they are married. If someone has a title, such as Doktor. Then you refer to them as Frau Doktor Lorenz, or Herr Doktor Kühn, or just Herr Doktor. Someone else may be Herr Doktor Professor so on. Titles and professional designations are important.
Shake hands (firmly, but briefly) with everyone you meet, (when saying hello and goodbye) to avoid slighting someone.
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