Making the right first impression can be stressful, right? We’ve all experienced it. It may have been meeting your partner’s parents, trying to land a new job interview, or attempting to close an important business deal, getting off on the right foot has always been a big deal. Were you aware that you normally have only seven seconds to make a good first impression? That’s not long at all — especially when there are so many factors to acknowledge!
Here, we look at how to make that perfect first impression when you’re in a business meeting.
Be on time
Punctuality is key. Your clients are busy people, so don’t waste their time by not being punctual. If your meeting is planned for a set time, turn up early. America’s former president, Eisenhower, was famous for his ‘when to arrive for a meeting’ philosophy, which meant that if you weren’t 10 minutes early for the meeting, then you were late.
By turning up before your allocated time, you can avoid unnecessary stress as you will have time to take in your surroundings and compose yourself. Both of these factors can be crucial if you need to present to your potential clients.
While this may seem like an obvious point, it can often be missed. Turning up well-dressed to your appointment really can help you go a long way. After all, if the shoe was on the other foot, do you think you would pay attention and sign a contract if the person standing in front of you was unkept? Probably not, so steer clear of those Converse trainers and ripped jeans — it’s important to dress like the professional you are trying to portray yourself as.
If you’re male, be sure you look clean and crisp. A nicely fitted suit with clean — an emphasis on clean — shoes will give the impression that you are proud of your appearance and are likely to take pride in your client’s needs, too. Women can also benefit from tailored clothing of conservative colours and patterns. Dark grey or navy should be staple colours in your outfit choice.
Again this is a simple factor that can often be overlooked. Be sure to smile, shake everyone’s hand who is in the meeting and keep good eye contact. Smiling will put potential clients at ease, offering a warm impression of yourself, while firmly shaking hands can command respect. Keeping eye contact portrays you as a positive person, while those who avoid eye contact can sometimes be seen as being ‘shifty’ or rude — not ideal for a business meeting!
This is such an important factor. You should, no matter what, speak clearly as nobody likes continuously asking what it was you said. If this happens, your client could become frustrated, which will take away from all the good that may occur in your meeting. Having an accent won’t matter as long as you are clearly annunciating your words.
It’s easier to get your point across when you speak clearly, and this will make your meeting run smoother. Let’s face it, the smoother the meeting, the more likely you are to land that elusive deal! It also allows you to build a relationship via small talk. Again, speaking clearly enables this to happen, as if they don’t understand you, they won’t engage.
What you drive
Did you know that at times, a first impression can even start before you’ve walked through the door? We’ve all heard of stereotypes revolving around certain types of car, but did you ever think about how this may affect any potential business deals? Audis are often stereotypically linked to businessmen and women, meaning that those who drive an Audi A6 are thought to be in the business industry. This can have a positive impact on any potential clients who see you pull up!
So, following this five-step plan, will stand you in good stead to land that all-important business deal. Remember, don’t drive a ‘boy-racer’ style car to your meeting, arrive early, dress snappy, be open and friendly, and make sure everyone can understand you! Master these points and you’ll have a great chance of getting the result you are looking for.