You only get one chance to create a first impression. To make sure it’s the right one, follow these 7 steps that will have people meeting you, liking you and, critically, wanting to do business with you.
1. Be confident – walk into a room with your head held high and confidence intact. This will come across clearly in your posture. Shake hands firmly and look the other person in the eye when introducing yourself. If someone is coming to collect you from a waiting room, remain standing whilst you wait – no matter how appealing the sofa looks!
2. Look the part – are your shoes polished and hair brushed? This may sound like a small thing but potential customers will look for the detail. The state of your appearance and dress could make the difference between winning a contract, or not. If you can, check yourself in the mirror just before greeting; it’s the safest way to avoid sitting through a vitally important meeting with cappuccino froth on your lips!
3. Good design speaks volumes – ensure your personal image is reflected in your professional image. Do you have a memorable logo? And does that logo appear on business cards, your website and other promotion materials? Company design can make you stand out and it’s worth paying a professional to get it right.
4. Take an interest in the other person – creating a good impression is about listening to the other person, as much as it is telling them about you. Ask questions about their business, hobbies, life and they, in turn, will take a deeper interest in yours. It’s also through asking questions that you’ll find common points of connection.
5. Be clear on the offer – when asked to describe your business, product or offer, be clear and concise. Perfect your elevator pitch – this is the description of the business that can be uttered in less than 15 seconds. When I meet someone new my line is “Hello. I’m Emma Jones. My company helps people start and grow businesses from home.”
6. A bit of give and take – when heading to a meeting or networking event, of course you want to get something out of the experience but be prepared to give a little too. You’re meeting a potential client and would like their business. Give something in return, whether that be your free expert opinion or opening up your rolodex and making a virtual introduction (this takes only seconds yet will keep you in the mind of the beneficiary for time to come).
7. Follow-up – back in the home office and it’s time to follow up on the actions agreed. Be prompt and the relationship will progress just so.
Taking these steps will ensure you create the right impression and that your business is regarded as professional and trustworthy. What better way to secure new customers.
Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’.