People have only seven seconds to make a good first impression.
During this time, people make judgements about the competence, character, and professionalism of others. That’s why business leaders need to create the best first impression when meeting with prospective customers.
1. A Good First Impression Requires Preparation
To give themselves more authority, a business owner needs to do some preparation. Not only will this reduce anxiety, but it gives them an advantage over their competition.
If they can learn everything about their client before a meeting by visiting their website, doing a background check, and brushing up on their current events, they will come across as knowledgeable and interested – two fundamental qualities when making a good first impression.
2. Punctuality is Crucial
When attending a meeting, it’s crucial those who are attending are punctual. Arriving on time gives the impression they’re responsible, respectful, and capable. Giving themselves an extra couple of minutes will also give them chance to gain their composure and check their appearance. It also accounts for any delays with traffic, getting lost, or inclement weather.
3. Professional Appearances Matter
To enhance their personal brand, a business leader needs to retain a professional appearance. This doesn’t necessarily mean buying designer suits, but they should wear a classic getup that’s in keeping with their business image.
Those attending formal business meetings may find a dark suit works best. Those who work in a trade may find a uniform offers a more specialist look.
4. Firm Handshakes, Smiles, and Eye Contact are a Must
A solid handshake is, in most cultures, a sign of respect. Handshakes should be sincere, friendly, and warm, being neither too weak nor too strong. If someone is seated before they meet someone, they should stand to shake their hand, while also making eye contact and smiling in the process. The handshake shouldn’t last for more than a couple of seconds, either, otherwise, people may start to feel uncomfortable.
5. Attentive Listening is Fundamental
To build trust, business owners need to demonstrate they are good listeners. Throughout their initial meeting they need to ask relevant questions. When someone else speaks, they need to make sure they come across as being fully engaged with what they are saying, making eye contact throughout.
It’s important people feel as though they are being given enough time to express themselves. If they interrupt or try to finish the other person’s sentence, the customer may feel as though the business owner is in a hurry or doesn’t respect their opinion.
It doesn’t matter whether a customer is entering a shop or a business owner is visiting them in their own home, the first impression they make is how they are going to be remembered. They will need to show professionalism, integrity, humility, and sincerity.
Is there anything you do as a business leader that helps create a good first impression? We’d love to hear about this below!
hbr.org; 2016; Rebecca Knight; https://hbr.org/2016/09/how-to-make-a-great-first-impression
businessinsider.com; 2013; Anna Pitts; http://www.businessinsider.com/only-7-seconds-to-make-first-impression-2013-4?IR=T
forbes.com; 2013; Lisa Quast; https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2013/09/09/5-tips-to-create-a-positive-first-impression/#3b3427a85cb0