First impressions are everything when it comes to business networking. If you give others the impression that you are unapproachable, incompetent, self-centered, or disingenuous, few people will care about what you have to say and even fewer will stick around long enough to make a purchase.
Here are 5 tips for making the best first impression possible:
1. Put a smile on your face. When you’re smiling, you look exponentially more approachable and friendly than when you’re not. Make it a habit to smile often at networking events, when you’re speaking with customers and business partners, and just in general. Those individuals who struggle with shyness may find this hard to accomplish. In such a case, fake it until you make it.
As more and more people approach your smiling face, you will loosen up, and soon the smiles will come naturally.
2. Make eye contact. Nothing makes you look shiftier than avoiding eye contact. When you’re having a conversation with someone, maintain eye contact with him for at least 90 percent of the time. This accomplishes two very important things. First, it makes you seem genuine and trustworthy. Second, it shows the person you’re speaking with that you are focused and interested in what he has to say. If your eyes are darting all over the room, it looks as if you’re trying to find an escape route.
3. Exercise good posture. Slouching, while at least temporarily comfortable, just makes you appear lazy. Sitting or standing up straight, on the other hand, makes you appear confident, energetic, and ready for anything. Likewise, it says you’re alert and interested in the conversation or event.
4. Listen more than you talk.No one likes a person who drones on and on about himself, especially when his comments seem boastful. Do share details about who you are and what you do, but make listening to what others have to say, and asking thoughtful questions, a priority.
5. Use confident body language. If you don’t exhibit confidence in yourself, why should anyone have confidence in you? Use a confident stance, with your feet set wide and your shoulders squared but relaxed. Don’t look at your feet, and always give a firm handshake.
A good first impression opens the door for people to take interest in you. It gives them a reason to consider your products and services, offer to help you, or even refer others to your business. What are some other ways to make a good first impression?
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