First impressions are important in any social situation and may even be more crucial in business. It takes only a few seconds for your first impression to make a lasting effect. A bad first impression can cost you clients, customers, and other prospective business. You want to be able to set the tone for your future business relationship by showing that you are confident, professional, and well prepared to handle it all. Make sure that you dress for success, have a confident stance, and make proper greetings.
Your physical appearance plays a major role in first impressions. Arriving at your meeting groomed poorly shows that you did not care enough about the others to take the time to make an effort. Dressing appropriately shows that you respect your client and your business. It’s the first chance to look successful and confident, which in turn, will make your associates have more confidence in you. Of course, some industries dress more casually than others but if you are unsure about what to wear, always go with business attire.
Confident Body Language
Body language is important for a good first impression because it’s one of the first things someone notices when meeting you. Standing up straight with your arms at your side and your head up while making eye contact, shows that you are confident and interested to get started in business.
Displaying confidence with your greetings also helps make a great first impression. Best way to do that is to have a firm handshake while maintaining eye contact. Introduce yourself with your first and last name (with a warm smile) if it is your first time meeting. Otherwise, makes sure to greet them with their name. Having a professional greeting will show that meeting with them is important to you.
Depending on the type of event you’re attending, it is important to be prepared for a positive networking experience.
Have pertinent material with you so that it is readily available if someone asks for it. Examples of material that may be necessary can include business cards, resumes, and references.
You are networking to grow professionally so it is essential to know how to describe who you are and what you do to impress people. Do this by writing out a professional mission statement. Knowing your mission statement will help you create a verbal statement, or pitch, to sell yourself.
Feedback at networking events is a way for you to do your own marketing research. You can easily find out what is working for you or not and what is working for others in your profession. Knowing this information will help you maintain a positive image within your network.
Many networking opportunities allow you to meet people online or face-to-face with similar professional goals. There are various types of events that will assist you in expanding the number of contacts you generate through networking.
Here are just a few ideas available for professionals to network with other like-minded professionals.
Social media is an easy online tool to find professionals with similar interests that you can stay in daily contact with. Some networking sites can be more beneficial than others. LinkedIn is a popular platform for business networking. Facebook and Twitter also connect you with a network of people. Engaging with them consistently online will create a professional relationship that you will be able to grow upon further when you meet face to face.
Chamber of Commerce Events
Many cities coordinate events through their Chamber of Commerce for the region’s professionals. These types of events provide an opportunity to attend workshops, participate in fundraisers, and exchange business cards.
Depending on your job trade, there are associations that often host conferences for a more formal networking event. They plan meetings and workshops to allow more opportunities to make contacts.
College Career and Alumni Events
Colleges will sponsor both career networking events as well as non-career events. Both will allow professionals, alumni, and students a chance to converse over common interests. It is an informal way to network with more people while practicing your speech about yourself. You can then follow up with them at a later time.
Make good use of the business cards that you collected by communicating with those contacts in a follow-up email. Keep it short and simple to impress the contact by showing them the important moments during your brief conversation with them. Reference a specific topic or mutual contact that you discussed with them and the event that you both attended so they can remember who you are. Finally, end the email expressing your interest to speak with them again.