Organisations that go The Xtra Mile know it’s important to act professionally at every touch point in the relationship, when looking to enter into a new partnership, and none more so than those first impressions.
6 min read
It only takes a split second for someone to make an initial judgement upon seeing you, but in the business world the ‘judging’ cycle can start long before people actually meet face to face.
We’ll make assumptions about someone by how they have organised a meeting. Did they make contact themselves or did a PA make the meeting on their behalf? If it was their choice on the location chosen to meet? An expensive hotel vs a coffee shop, what does that tell you? How will they get there? What do they drive? Did they have a driver?
All of these little touch points will shape a perception in our minds as to what type of person we are meeting but generally all of these pre-meet assumptions can be overhauled in the opening few moments and exchanges where according to Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy our first two goals will be to assess the Trustworthiness and competence of the individual.
These two attributes are crucial to being successful in a partnership, because they express your ability to have the capacity to deliver on a task, as well as offering the confidence that it will be completed. Without winning these two areas you’re unlikely to get to the next stage of the relationship.
In this blog we’ve put together our top ten techniques on how to make a great first impression
Be the best version of yourself
Never over promise
Put away the mobile
They say punctuality is the first sign of professionalism and we agree. People that are punctual suggest they are prepared.
When attending a meeting it will be beneficial for you to play it safe and keep this quote in mind:
‘If you are early, you are on time, and if you are on time, you are late.’
Be prepared to have to wait a short time though as important people tend to be busy and have tight schedules so waiting to be seen may just be part of the process.
2. Be presentable
Like punctuality looking clean and tidy will once again suggest you are the type of person that is prepared (because grooming does take a little bit of time). Also, in business, people like to work with other people that will make them look good. So, dress to impress.
Keep in mind it is easier to dress down once at a meeting (you can remove a tie, unbutton a shirt etc) but it is much more difficult to improve your attire once you are already in the meeting. So again, if you do not have time to request a dress code, sometimes this isn’t appropriate, err on the side of caution and dress smarter.
Take the ‘It is better to have it and not need, than need it and not have it approach’.
3. Be the best version of yourself
As we go through our daily cycle we will be several different versions of ourselves. We can be the tired us, the silly, the hungry, or even the ‘hangry’ (angry because we’re hungry). In these initial meetings you need to get your game face on and be your best you possible.
So before your meeting take a deep breath, compose yourself and remember why you are there.
The universal joy expression. The smile can be one of your strongest tools when making first impressions in a meeting. It has a unique reaction in most people of being mirrored, this is important as its been proven that smiling creates an endorphin release in your brain to your body to make you feel good and if mirrored, your visitor will enjoy that also. This will resonate with the subconscious part of your visitor’s brain when they look to recall their meeting with you.
5. Be confident
People that are confident express that they are competent. This is incredibly important as it is one of the primary decision-making criterions to entrusting your business and working with new people.
Two simple techniques upon meeting someone: firmly shake their hand (make sure you do not crush it as this may suggest you are a bully) and keep eye contact, as suggested in the above technique always smile.
You were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason, look to shut up, listen and learn. Try to allow the guest to talk about their business, in most cases executives will talk with passion and energy about what they do well which will inform you how best to add to the conversation, so it offers benefit to your guest. This will help build trust.
Ask open ended questions and find pain points from which you can offer solutions. In the end your guest will walk away valuing the time you spent together.
7. Never over promise
Not being able to deliver is dangerous in business and leaves you open to ridicule and at worst legal proceedings which can severely damage your brand as a business and as a professional.
If possible take the approach to under promise (providing the agreed service is acceptable) and over deliver. When you over deliver you then get the most powerful marketing tool there is, advocate clients.
In business it is important that you can reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Running self-assessments and self-audits should help you identify and improve weaknesses.
You may have several mannerisms that may be distracting to new people when you first meet them, this may weaken your position and put them off you. So, take the time to review how you can improve you.
9. Put away the mobile
Today everyone is expected to carry a phone with them, so they can be accessed anywhere and at any time. Often this can happen in the middle of an important first meeting.
There is nothing worse for your guest than when an important part of the conversation is in full flow and they are interrupted by a phone ringing, flashing or vibrating.
First thing, NEVER answer it. If you do, what can be intimated in your actions is that this person is not important enough for your attention.
To avoid this, leave your phone out of eye sight and turned on silent or turned off.
10. Offering solutions
We enter partnerships to ideally create synergy, we want the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts.
But businesses will only be interested in our services/products if we can offer some type of benefit or solution. Where possible try to leave the meeting by offering a solution to a pain point of your guest. Let them leave the meeting thinking you and your company are of value.