By Danielle Martindale, digital marketing strategist at Mannix Marketing
The phrases “dress for success” and “first impressions are everything” are common throughout the business world – and for good reason. The first impression is a powerful business tool. When used properly this tool can command respect, exude authority, and turn leads into clients. First impressions go far beyond how you dress. Keep in mind, a potential client’s future interactions with you and your business is based off the initial judgement formed within your first meeting. Here are five ways to make your first impression count:
- Make Your Online Presence Respectable
Unless you are meeting a person while networking, chances are your initial impression will be made online. This means they will be learning about you from your website, LinkedIn profile, or Facebook profile before they ever speak to you over the phone or in person. If your online presence shows inaccurate or outdated information, embarrassing photos, or inappropriate humor, your first impression is doomed from the start. Ensure that leads make it past your online profiles by dedicating time to keeping your online presence appropriate and up-to-date.
- Do Your Research
When you land that first meeting, preparation is everything. With the amount of information out there, do not make the mistake of asking simple questions that are easily answered by visiting the company’s website. Invest time into understanding the company and what they do. What problems are they having that prompted this meeting? Once you have learned all you can about the company, take time to learn all about your contact person. This means learning more than just their job title. Find out where they graduated from, what their hobbies are, if they have any kids or pets. All of this information can then be used to find similarities that will break the ice.
- Ask the Right Questions
Steer clear of dominating the conversation. Remember this meeting is about fulfilling their needs, not talking about yourself. Drive the conversation with open ended questions that steer the person away from one word answers. If you have done your homework and looked at their website and business profiles, you should be walking into the meeting armed with plenty of insightful questions to ask. This will allow you to gain more useful insights and make a lasting connection.
- Steer Clear of the Salesman’s Pitch
The last impression you want to make is one comparable to a used car salesman. While you are meeting because the person has a business problem and you have a potential solution, your first focus should be about getting to know the other person and developing a meaningful relationship. Find a common interest to make an initial connection. From there, focus on creating a dialogue, not a sales pitch.
- Follow Up
Your job isn’t over when the conversation ends. Remember, this person may be meeting with other companies to determine the best fit. Make sure your impression lasts long after the conversation ends by writing a personalized note of appreciation. The note should recap the conversation in a way the shows you’ve thought about it and gained new insights.
Remember, first impressions can mean the difference of gaining a client or not. Mastering first impressions takes practice and dedication, but the results are worth the effort.
Share your first impression experiences and advice with us in the comments section, or tweet us @LandisComm.