Effective Strategies is devoted to sharing ideas that can improve your business performance. Last issue, we discussed mastering the winning attitude. This issue, we look at the dynamics of making a powerful impression. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it. Feel free to forward this e-mail to anyone who can benefit from this information. To sign up to receive this e-zine, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to score more serious prospects when networking, read on. Your first impression should be as powerful as you can make it. Capitalizing on a few techniques can ensure that you appear likeable, confident, and organized ó all traits of people who score the most business leads. Itís not just a look though ó you have to feel it on the inside. It has to be woven into who you are, and that takes preparation and practice.
One of the great journeys of life is mastering the powerful first impression. While there are many techniques you can try, confidence makes the biggest difference when you network. Want to look the part when you meet someone for the first time? Just focus on these key areas:
Give your new friend a warm, natural smile as you visit with them. No other action covers your flaws like a smile.
Make eye contact as often as possible. In our society, we associate eye contact with trustworthiness. You donít want to engage in a staring contest, but try not to look around ó especially when you are listening to the other person speak. Eye contact also shows respect.
Extend a firm, full-palm handshake. We often judge people by the way they shake hands. For instance, what do you think when you get the limp, little-old-lady handshake. Are you thinking that handshake means business? No! Of course not! What about cold, damp hands? For whatever reason they are cold and damp, you probably make some judgments based on the unusual feel. A firm, dry, warm, comfortable handshake feels familiar and friendly and doesnít get in the way of the first impression. When a handshake feels out of the ordinary, it distracts the other person from what you have to say. And ladies, be the first to extend the handshake. The womenís movement has created a lot of uncertainty for men about shaking hands. Regardless of your gender, a handshake still means business.
Stand tall. Great posture exudes confidence. You breathe easier, your clothes hang nicer, and you look more comfortable. Great posture and confidence are a very attractive combination.
Dress so you feel confident and wear the right apparel. If your work attire is jeans or khaki pants with a knit, collared shirt with your logo, itís probably appropriate to wear to a chamber of commerce networking mixer. Just make sure youíre impeccably clean and pressed. You probably want to dress a little nicer if you are attending their annual banquet. If so, wear a nametag with your logo because that helps build name recognition. What you wear affects your confidence. Dress so that you have no reason to feel uncomfortable while you are meeting and greeting.
Present a sharp business image ó especially with your business cards and marketing materials. Never store them loose in your car, pocket, or purse. The quality of your marketing materials reflects the quality of your product or service.
Good manners make you look better than the most expensive suit. They also make a big impression on those around you. Unfortunately, manners are a rare thing these days but nothing is too good for your new acquaintances. Roll out the red carpet for them.
The next important piece to making the powerful first impression is being likeable and engaging. Here are a few tips that will help you accomplish that.
Be cheerful, upbeat, and interested in the folks you meet. A positive, winning attitude will plant you firmly in their memories.
Lead interesting conversation. Place your new acquaintances at the center of the conversation. Listen to their responses, show genuine interest, and give them your full attention.
Be respectful but not too stuffy or formal.
Know when to end the conversation. Most networking conversations should be no more than six to seven minutes.
Prepare to be confident, likeable, and organized, but donít expect everyone to do that. Be gracious and forgiving of other people.
Your organization skills also help you make a powerful first impression. Here are a few ideas to help you present an organized image.
Stash your business cards in an easily accessible place. A pocket is always best, but thatís not always possible in all womenís clothing. Plan what you wear carefully so youíll have pockets handy.
Keep a pen and paper handy. You often have an opportunity to make notes on someoneís business card about their business. Paper is handy if you need to write down a referral as well.
Carry a day planner if possible. When you have the opportunity to give leads or make an appointment, being able to hand off the contact information right then is a huge timesaver. It doesnít matter whether it is a paper-based planner or a personal digital assistant (PDA).
Arrive on time. Whether there is a firm start time or not, you miss valuable networking time if you arrive late.
Manage your purse properly, ladies. Consider leaving your purse in the car. Juggling a purse, your business card case, and a beverage is clumsy. If you must carry your purse, make sure itís an attractive style that closes nicely. Nothing looks worse than a worn-out purse bulging at the seams with papers hanging out of the pockets.
Now, go out there to you next networking mixer and make a fabulous first impression. You, my confident friend, are going to be great!
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Carrie Perrien Smith
President, Soar With Eagles
Release Your Potential
Soar with Eagles equips successful individuals and organizations to reach their peak performance through teamwork, communication, strategic planning, and execution.
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