When it comes to business meetings and networking, first impressions can be everything. Many times within the first 30-60 seconds of meeting another person, most people have already made up their mind, and while this fact can be intimidating, it can also be used to our advantage if we prepare ourselves properly.
In regular day to day life, we can often overcome a bad first impression and make up for it over time, but in business, the first impression becomes even more crucial. In life, people often get a second chance, but in business, the person you are meeting is either going to buy or sell, and business is all about sales.
Want to learn some of the tricks that top business people, speakers, and leaders use to make a first impression that really makes a positive impact? Well then this is for you!
1. Learn to create positive and confident body language
Confidence and a strong and positive body language can do wonders for a first impression. Most people enjoy the company of others who are confident, positive, and grounded. Not only do we place more faith with confident people, but we also tend to bond with better as well.
Ways to develop strong and confident body language include: standing up straight, offering a firm handshake, making eye contact, standing with arms relaxed at our sides, and just focusing on feeling strong and confident. Many times our bodies will project the way that we feel internally, so taking a few second to remind ourselves that we are strong and confident will make us appear stronger and more confident as well.
2. Learn to project warmth and positivity
Warmth is a sense of comfort and acceptance that we can project to other people. Warmth is a special character trait that allows others to feel comfortable around us and encourages them to open up to us right away. Warmth comes naturally to some people, but everyone can work on developing it.
To project warmth, focus on things like: smiling as much as is acceptable, not crossing your arms or projecting indifference, and asking questions and showing interest in what the other person is saying.
3. Dress and groom to kill
The way we look is often a subject of great personal sensitivity, but the truth is people want to deal with people who look and dress like a million bucks. No business person in their right mind is going to want to have anything to do with someone with messy hair, stinky breath, a beat up old suit, and holes in their shoes. People in business want to meet with success, and you need to look the part if you want to make connections.
To look and dress like a million bucks: perform basic hygiene (shower, brush teeth, style hair, shave or wax, make sure clothes are cleaned, etc.), get a tailored suit or outfit (you don’t have to buy a thousand dollar suit, but a cheap suit that’s tailored to fit can go a long way), use a small amount of cologne or perfume (emphasis on small amount), have a great pair of shoes to go with your outfit, and make sure your clothes are steamed or ironed (don’t look like a wrinkly mess!)
4. Learn to be tactful with your speech
Use speech and word that are appropriate for the person or people you are meeting, and follow the tone of the conversation. If you are meeting a group of professionals that are seeking your services as a consultant for their marketing department, make sure the speech you use is professional and relevant to the group of people you are dealing with, and likewise, if you meet a potential client at a basketball game, use speech that is casual and fun.
There is no magic way to always say or do the right thing, but the important thing to consider is always context. Use speech and words that are appropriate for the people you are dealing with, and be sure to avoid profanity or strong polarizing statements unless they are called for. Just be professional unless you get some indication it is ok to do otherwise.
5. Have a purpose
When it comes right down to it, a business meeting is for business. Most people aren’t networking or meeting for no reason at all, so you should have a clear objective in mind when you meet someone. That doesn’t mean you have to be cold and calculating, but you should also do your best not to waste anyone’s time.
6. Create a killer elevator pitch (Know what you have to offer)
A big part of having a purpose is creating an awesome elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short 15-30 second statement that describes exactly what you do and how you do it better or differently than anyone else. My personal elevator pitch is "I offer in depth personal coaching for my clients, and through focusing on the individual core needs of each person I work with, I help to improve their lives, help them find happiness and purpose, and help them unlock more of their full potential."
Create your own elevator pitch and make sure to tell exactly what you do, what you have to offer, and how you can help the people you work with.
7. Learn to project your voice from your chest
A voice that comes from deep in your chest sounds fuller and more confident, gets more people’s attention, and also sends out a powerful warmth to the people around us. Many of us tend to speak nasally, or speak through our sinus cavities, we do this because this allows us to hear our own voice better, but it actually diminishes our voice to others around us.
Try humming a short song and try to feel where the vibration is coming from. If the vibrations can be felt primarily in your head or throat, try opening up your throat, standing up straight, and letting the air come from your lungs. You should be able to feel the vibration coming from deeper in your chest now. You should aim to speak this way more often, but especially on a first impression.
8. Match the mood and energy
Along with using appropriate speech and words in a first meeting, you should also aim to match the mood and energy of the situation as well. If the tone of a meeting is somber and serious, you should avoid jokes or smiling too much. It is important to quickly be able to read the emotions of the person you are meeting as well. If they seem stressed or rushed, it is best to keep introductions short and to the point, but if they seem more open to conversation it is ok to slow down and relax a bit.
All of these tricks and tools can increase your ability to make a great first impression, so keep them in mind the next time you meet someone important and you might be surprised at how well it goes.
Do you have any other tips or tricks that you use to make a great first impression or do you have any questions about any of the tips from this post? Leave a comment below and join the conversation!