You don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we all make judgments about the professionalism, character, and competence of others based on our first impressions of them. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to be able to make a good first impression when you walk into meetings, whether it’s potential partners, clients, or employees. Just as you evaluate potential business parents, employees, and personal acquaintances the first time you meet them, others will be making judgements about you and your business based on the way that you conduct yourself. Here’s how you can always make a great first impression.
The best way to make a good first impression, especially in the world of business, is to embrace some uncommon common sense. A lot of entrepreneurs overlook the importance of things like poise and professionalism. A few common courtesies can go a long way to help you make a positive impression when you meet someone for the first time, whether they’re an investor or a client.
You can use these simple tips to make sure you will always make a great first, and lasting, impression, no matter what the circumstances are.
Prepare Ahead Of Time
Being well prepared will help you to feel less anxious, and will help you to show more authority in professional situations. If you do your homework in advance, you will have a big advantage over your competition. Before an important meeting, learn everything that you can about your potential client, partner, or investor, and their unique approach to business. Make sure you have put in some time to familiarize yourself with the industry that you will be working in, and brush up on some relevant current events. Visit the company website to learn more about the company’s history, staff, and recent news releases. When you take the time to prepare like this, you will be able to come across as knowledgeable and interesting. These are both great qualities that will help you to make a good impression straight away. It also shows you are interested in the person that you’re meeting, which is always a positive.
Find Out Who Will Attend The Meeting
If you are going to go above and beyond, reach out to the person organizing the meeting and find out which stakeholders will be in attendance. Before the meeting, memorize each person’s name, so you will be able to address everyone directly with the correct name throughout the meeting. You can also log onto LinkedIn and learn a little bit more about each person, and their background, as well as their hobbies and interests. You might be able to find something that you have in common. If you do, you can use it as a way to break the ice with the other meeting attendees by making some small talk that will interest them, before you move on to talking business.
Arrive A Few Minutes Early
If you are going to make a good impression in a professional setting, then it is very important to be punctual. When you arrive on time, you send a clear message that you are responsible, capable, and respectful of other people’s time. If you arrive at the meeting location with a little bit of time to spare, you can use those extra few minutes to visit the restroom, check your appearance after traveling, and get your composure before you walk into an important meeting. Always schedule in some extra time in your plans to allow for travel, potential delays on your route, bad weather, losing your way, and finding somewhere to park.
Dress For Success
A professional appearance is a very effective way to enhance your personal brand. The more put together you look, the more likely it is that you will make a good impression. You don’t need to spend a fortune on buying expensive designer suits to look your best. Instead, you should invest in some timeless, classic pieces that will create the foundation of your professional wardrobe. Make sure you dress for your client’s comfort, rather than your own. For example, if you’re going to be meeting with a group of bankers, a dark, more formal suit will be the most appropriate choice. In some industries, a more relaxed or creative look is more appropriate. It’s okay to show a little of your personal style, especially if you work in an artistic or creative industry, or when you are meeting with a group of designers. You can add personality with your accessories, such as a quality watch, like these top luxury watches. Make sure your wardrobe consists of clothes that fit you well and flatter your body shape.
Give A Firm Handshake
In most cultures, a firm handshake is very important and carries a lot of weight. To make the best first impression, your handshake should be warm, friendly, and sincere. If it is too firm or too weak, you might give off a negative impression. If you are sitting down when you are introduced to someone new, stand up before you shake their hand. Standing up first shows that you respect yourself and the person that you are meeting. Remember that you should keep your handshake short and sweet. A lot of people will find it strange and will become uneasy if a handshake lasts for more than a few seconds. Finally, make sure you smile and make eye contact while you are shaking hands.
Attentive listening helps to build trust. Throughout your meeting, ask relevant and useful questions. When someone else is talking, make eye contact with them and show them that you are fully engaged in what they are saying. Always give others in the meeting the time to properly express themselves. If you interrupt people who are speaking or try to finish other people’s sentences, they might assume that you are in a hurry or feel as though you don’t respect their opinions. Effective listening skills will help you to establish rapport with your new clients and business partners.