22 Mar The 5 keys to making a great first impression in business
In business, first impressions count. Most studies agree that you have less than 30 seconds to impress someone, with some studies giving you just seven seconds to make your first impression a positive one. That’s a lot of pressure to make those first encounters work in your favour but, if you get it right, you and your business are already well on the way to making a new connection, ally, partner or customer.
But wait you might say, I’ve got a 40-minute pitch and a depth of experience to communicate. That’s important of course because your positive first impressions need to be backed up with solid credentials. However even the best pitch in the world can be an uphill challenge if it comes off the back of a negative first impression.
You know the basics – dress to impress, be on time, make eye contact, speak confidently and put your phone away. But what are some of the other important ways to put yourself in the best possible light? We gathered these tips from talking to some of our clients about the way they conduct themselves during those crucial first seconds.
1. Make a human connection
When people meet you for the first time, they’re doing more than assessing your skills and experience. Consciously or unconsciously they’re looking to answer one key question, “Can I trust you?”. If you give the impression that you are only there to make a sale, people are less likely to trust you because your intentions are purely self-motivated. Alternatively, if you demonstrate that you want to build a real relationship by solving their problems, you’ll show that your motives (and therefore you) can be trusted.
When you’re meeting or presenting to someone for the first time, starting by finding some common ground and an opportunity to genuinely connect. Do your research before you meet them – Who do they know? (LinkedIn is an essential tool for this). What drives them? What problems or challenges exist in their business or industry? This not only provides an ice breaker for your meeting, it shows that you are genuinely interested in them.
2. Don’t just talk, listen
You might think that people are meeting you to hear what you have to say. What they really want to understand is whether you can solve their problem or help them make the most of an opportunity. After you’ve introduced yourself, turn your attention to listening to them. Ask questions and respond with verbal and non verbal cues. Show that you’re listening by responding with appropriate questions or comments that add value to the conversation. Speak when you have something important to say but remember to always define ‘important’ as what matters to the other person. And when it comes to making your pitch or presentation, always steer it back to the other person and what it means for their situation and requirements.
3. Tell them ‘Why’
People often start a business meeting or introduction by talking about what they do. A more interesting and engaging way of introducing yourself is to open up and explain not just what you do but why you do what you do. What kind of businesses do you like to work with and what do you want to help them achieve? By talking about the why more than the what, you’re demonstrating to the other person what you’re passionate about and how you might be able to help them. People want to work with someone who genuinely cares about their issues and wants to make a difference. And make it a two-way street, don’t forget to ask them their “why.”
4. Be original
Gone are the days when ‘personal branding’ was only for celebrities or executives. A strong personal brand is important whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee and it will impact your ability to attract customers, talent and capital. When you think about your personal brand, think originality and authenticity. You don’t need to match what everyone else is doing, you need to establish who you are and what you stand for in your business and career.
When it comes to making that all-important first impression, don’t be afraid to demonstrate your personal brand in the way you dress, present, speak, right down to the venue you choose to meet in. Presenting yourself consistently before, during and after meetings is an important part of building relationships and trust with others.
5. Make sure your meeting place reflects your brand
One of the very first things that gives people an impression about you is where you choose to meet and how professionally you present as a person and business. In fact, the location and setting for your meeting builds an impression before you even enter the picture. Do you want your first impression to be a noisy cafe with no privacy? Or is a professional meeting space in a premium location with up-to-the-minute facilities more in keeping with the impression you want to give?
Whether you work at home, in an office or out of your local cafe, you can up the ante with your first impressions by tapping into the professional meeting facilities offered by coworking organisations such as Flexispace. Think modern spaces, large displays, concierge, high tech video conferencing, all right in the heart of the city at 1 Martin Place Sydney.
Want to see more about the professional meetings spaces Flexispace has to offer? Call our friendly team today and experience the Flexispace difference.
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