It can be nervy when you first meet someone, right? It could be your partner’s parents, a job interview or an attempt to close a crucial business deal, you are determined to get off on the right foot. Staggeringly, you have just seven seconds to make a good first impression on average. That’s no time at all, really, is it?
Here, we look at the best ways to ensure you make the perfect opening impression in a business meeting.
Your clients will have a busy schedule so don’t waste their time by turning up late. 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. Being early can also remove unnecessary stress as you can compose yourself in your new surroundings.
While it may sound obvious, being well dressed will help you stand out. 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.
For men, make sure you are looking clean and crisp from head to toe. There are many nice suits that can be accompanied by white slim fit shirts that can show 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.
It’s important you don’t mumble! Nobody likes needing to continuously ask 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.
If you speak clearly, it’ll be easy to correctly get your point across, which will help the meeting run in a smooth manner. Of course, 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.
Again, although this should be second nature, be sure to use positive body language in a meeting. Make sure you 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!
Perhaps surprisingly, sometimes a first impression can take place before you even enter the building. 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 business. This can have a positive impact on any potential clients who see you pull up!
So, that’s a great five-step plan that can help you land that elusive 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.