First impressions count, particularly in networking situations. How can you be sure to make the right impression? In this article Relationship Coach and Athena Reading Regional Director Juliette Smith gives us some useful tips on how you can make your business or service stand out.
What do you look like?
You will make an impact by how you look. It is more important to have polished shoes if you are a solicitor than if you are a fitness trainer, and a fitness trainer would dent their reputation by smoking. Take care with appearance because first impressions don’t quickly go away.
How do you walk into a room?
Confidence is key. Hold your head high, walk tall and smile. Shake hands firmly and look the person in the eye when you speak to them. Arrive on time (or early) to ensure you are relaxed and ready rather than rushing through the door at the last minute.
What do you say?
After introducing yourself, ask a question and stay curious rather than talking about what you do. It is likely that everyone will meet 10 or more people at a networking event. They won’t remember everything you say so, make sure what you do say is clear, concise and memorable.
How well do you listen?
Think about how you feel when someone you are talking to is looking over your shoulder or forgets what you said. Then think about how good you feel when you have someone’s undivided attention. Listening will create a better impression than trying to sell. So, be attentive: ask questions about the other person’s business, hobbies and life.
How positive are you?
Are you a glass half empty or half full person? If you tend to be critical, consider what impact this will have on the people you meet. Don’t talk negatively about someone else or their business. Instead, try to find something constructive to say. Be honest, fair and state facts if asked about someone else.
Can you be relied upon?
Common courtesy counts for a lot. Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. If for some reason you can’t, make sure you tell the other person before they have to chase you. Always reply to emails, particularly ones addressed to you personally. Even a quick and simple one-line email will create a positive impression. Say thank you for a referral or for information.
Are you a giver or a taker?
Try to be supportive and contribute to your network. Make an effort to introduce people, offer referrals and bring people to meetings. Even offering expert advice (when it’s asked for) is giving. People are more likely to want to support you and your business if you have a reputation for being generous. Offering support when you first meet someone is going to create a much better impression than trying to sell to them.
Now you have these seven key steps, make sure you put them into action. Creating a positive, memorable, lasting impression will be invaluable if you want to get results from your networking.
Remember “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou)