Your first impression is often your last impression – we’ve all heard this adage. While this might not necessarily be true in all situations, it is most definitely true for business. When you run a business, the first impression that you make upon your client determines whether they’ll want to engage in business with you.
Research says we use only the first 7 seconds of any interaction to form our judgment on the party we’re interacting with. By this time, we’ve already guessed at how accountable, reliable, and trustworthy they are and how they respond to people/events.
Networking is crucial to any business. So, if you’re going to be choosing somebody to be the face of your business in your company’s networking endeavors, you must do so wisely.
We discuss below ways in which a person can leave a significant and lasting positive first impression for their business.
How to Improve Your First Impression
1. Answer Your Phone – Immediately
Believe it or not, the success of your meeting with a potential client starts with a phone call. That’s right, your phone call sets the tone – so, make sure that you take extra care when calling your future clients. But even more important than that, the way you take the potential client’s return call matters more to your first impression.
Make sure you always have your phone with you; make sure that you answer the call immediately. If you’re not sure whether you can do that or not, it’s better to get an answering service. Such service allows you to have a professional to take calls on your behalf whenever your prospects are calling you, 24/7.
2. Choose Appropriate Attire
If you run a legal advisory firm and are slated to meet a potential client, you should be dressed formally with no room for negotiation about your choice of attire. People make snap judgments subconsciously, and if you show up in casual jeans and T-shirt outfit, your prospective client will probably wonder if you’re responsible enough to broker a significant business merger for them.
Simply wearing formals will not quite do. Your clothes also need to be well-fitting. So, if your business suit is a size larger than you now, get it tailored before you show up to your scheduled business meeting.
Remember, if you are a video-game designer or a creative writer meeting with an interested client, dressing appropriately might translate into a different message. You are free to mix and match and let your creativity find expression in your outfit and appearance in these cases. Your objective will be to impress your creativity on the client, and as a creative, you can use your attire as yet another medium to reflect the same.
3. Be Attentive
You’d be surprised to learn how rare an attentive listener is nowadays. A good attention span is on the downswing for quite some time now, and people are easily distracted by other people or the devices in their vicinity. So even if they’re engaged in conversation with you, chances are, they are only paying half their attention to what you have to say.
There’s nothing more damaging for a first impression than not being attentive and receptive to the other person. Respect that another person has taken the time to have a conversation with you and devote to them your undivided attention. It will make them feel valued and appreciated. They will feel encouraged to bring you in their business.
Also, do not use this conversation and chance at networking to make overt sales pitches. It will work as an instant turn-off for your company, and they might not want to continue the conversation further.
Try to be genuinely interested in who they are and what they seek. If you must, you can weave in a line or two about your business into the conversation at some point. If they seem interested, you can pursue this and tell them more. If not, you can thank them for their time and excuse yourself. Perhaps they’ll remember this interaction you shared, and get in touch later if they have a suitable business opportunity for you.
4. Prepare Yourself
You might think your charm and easy personality is enough to win over a positive first impression from a prospective client for your business, but you would be lying to yourself if you did. Yes, those qualities help, of course. However, it takes more to make a lasting positive first impression than simply that.
Suppose you are slated to attend a networking event in the near future, find out who will be attending and which companies they will be representing. It will make it easier for you to plan your prospective interactions with them. You will want to steer clear of clichéd questions and problematic topics such as politics and religion. If you spend time conducting a little background research, you will be able to find out what these attendees are personally interested in.
Conducting conversations with them will make all that much easier, and you might find that your audience is attentive to what you have to share. At the same time, you might be faced with boring conversations that drawl on without a point.
Preparing an exit strategy to enable you to excuse yourself from these conversations politely will help you better manage your time at these events.
5. Make a Mental Note of the Names You Encounter and Use Them in Conversation
When you try to and actually remember the names of the people you interact with, they are impressed with the gesture. Remembering names can be difficult, especially in larger events, but being able to do so sets you apart from a good chunk of people who will be engaged in similar networking efforts. When you meet a person and learn their name, use their name now and again to refer to them in conversation. It will not only make them feel acknowledged, but it will also help you remember the name.
6. Practice Positive Body Language
Non-verbal cues communicate a lot more than our verbal communication. You don’t want to stand with your arms crossed when you are conversing with a possible client. It will convey a defensive and negative stance. Keep your body as relaxed and open as possible – smile, maintain eye contact, and lean in slightly towards your company when you are engaging them in conversation. You will make your companion feel welcome and convey a positive image of yourself.
First impressions can be tricky, and often, you never get a do-over of these impressions. So, don’t mess them up. Follow the tips shared above and help enhance the first impression you make on a prospective business client or partner.
Just be careful, it could be the deciding factor between a lucrative business partnership and a declining business brand image.