In many situations, such as sales meetings or job interviews, the saying “You only get one chance to make an impression” is true. What can you do to ensure you get off to a good start in these situations? What should you actually say? And how can you follow up best?
Whitney Johnson is the author of How to Disrupt Yourself: Putting Disruptive Innovation to Use. Johnson stresses the point that we are quick to judge: “We judge other people in a nanosecond.” After an first impression is formed, it is “very, very hard to change it.”
Making a great first impression is important because it sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. You want to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward so that the person you are meeting has a good impression of you. There are a few things that you can do to make a great first impression.
Prepare Talking Points
The first thing you need to do is make sure that you’re well-prepared. This means doing your research on the person or company you’re meeting, as well as rehearsing what you want to say. It might also help to come up with a few questions to ask your interviewer or potential customer.
Your goal is to show that you understand the problem and that you have skills to help soling the problem. To that end, you should prepare two to three points you believe are important that you will be able to convey during the meeting. The topic of your talking points will depend on the situation and they should demonstrate your business knowledge and strategic planning skills. The points should naturally come up during your conversation.
However, if they don’t, say something like “Before we leave, there are few things that I want to mention.”
The most important thing is to be yourself. Don’t try to be someone that you’re not, because the other person will see through it and it will make you seem fake. Be genuine and honest and the other person will appreciate that.
But you still have to pay attention to your body language. It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous when meeting new people, but it is important not to let your anxiety show. Your body language should be confident and comfortable. This is obviously much easier said than done. A helpful trick is to use the power-posing method before the meeting in order to lower your cortisol levels. Take long strides. Straighten your spine. Keep your chest high. These simple poses will boost your confidence, even if isn’t your typical behavior.
Use your strengths
Ask your friends and colleagues what they think are your strengths and winning traits and how you can best communicate them to others. A way doing this is to look at compliments that you have received from bosses and coworkers. Before you dismiss compliments that seem obvious for you: those are actually the things you excel at and should be highlighted when trying to make an impression. Find metrics to back this up. For example, if your creative ideas inputs are liked by your colleagues and get promoted, this is something that you can use. But don’t boast your accomplishments: just present facts and evidence. This will speak for you.
Find a common groud
A way to build trust is to find a connection. This doesn’t have to be deep, it could just be that you are from the same part of the country, attended the same university or have children the same age. The main goal is to establish a human connection. It might require some detective work to find out what you share in common with this person. You might find clues such as a passion for a sports team, a love of a specific region, or admiration for a historical figure. Do research on someone via LinkedIn: this often helpy you to uncover conversational material. In this context small talk is very important: It is often conversational gold.
Don’t try to impress others with you knowledge. While you might have deep knowledge in a field, your goal is not to impress, but rather to create an engaging and memorable conversation. You have to try and to get to know the other person. Listen to what they say: the better the person feels, the more they will be inclined to form a positive opinion of you. Remember that people love to talk about themselves, so ask open-ended, thoughtful questions like “What are your most important issues right now?” Depending on the situation, this could be about a new job, travel plans, or even a product line. Having a good conversation about your areas of expertise is a great way to build trust.
Your job is not done after the conversation ends. You should write a personal note of appreciation to ensure your first impression sticks. Include a recap of the conversation in a way that shows you have thought about it or gained new insights. Let them know that you are interested in connecting on social media. You want to let the other know that the conversation had an impact on you and in doing this, you can also bring yourself to the table.
Basics never to forget
Be polite and respectful. Make sure to say hello and goodbye, and be polite when you are speaking to the other person. Don’t be rude or speak negatively about others.
Be on time. Show up on time for the meeting, or even a few minutes early. This shows that you are respectful and that you value the other person’s time.
Smile. A smile is always the best way to start off a conversation. It shows that you are friendly and that you are open to talking to the other person.
Videoconferencing and Interactive Business Cards
Now let’s talk about videoconferences for a moment. Let’s face it: it still doesn’t come natural for the majority of people. This is especially true for business settings. We’ve shaken hands, shared business cards, had coffee together and left product- or services-flyers behind.
This is different with videoconferencing. Here you need a digital version of your business card that you can share. qcard is a tool that does just that: it is your interactive business card that let’s you share all the needed information with one tap. Get in touch with us for you qcard.
Principles to Remember
1. Prepare talking points for your meeting
2. Try to highlight your strengths
3. Ask questions to the other person
4. Your body language should be confident, relaxed, and comfortable
5. Use small talk to find a common ground
6. Present evidence that speaks to both your domain expertise
7. Use digital tools like qcard