Making a great first impression is important if you want to be successful in business, especially when it comes to networking events. People form permanent opinions of those they meet within a few minutes of setting eyes upon them. Making a great first impression can be tricky to say the least. Our words, appearance, actions, facial expressions and body language play an important part of how others perceive who we are.
Every point of contact with your personal brand should reflect the impression you want to make on your potential customers, clients and friends. There are many key differences between top-producing salespeople and low performers. Both show up at networking events and you can spot the losers from across the room. They stand out. . . AND so do the winners!
If you show up in attire in which you are comfortable but less dressed up than the event demands, are you being authentic (true to yourself) or disrespectful of other networkers/clients? You are being disrespectful of other networkers (clients, etc.) and it is tantamount to hurling an insult, because it shouts “my comfort is more important than impressing you.” People get it when you dress to impress and they smile inside with delight.
Do you demonstrate a memorable impression? Attitude should be at the top of the list! It’s a quality that makes people say “wow,” when others first see you. It’s your own personal “Wow Factor.” If you are depressed or have had a bad day, stay home! Don’t spread that attitude to others. Veg out on TV and give yourself some time to bounce back.
How does your smile measure up on the smile-o-meter? No one likes a sour-puss. When you greet someone, Leil Lowndes, author of, “How to Instantly Connect with Anyone: 96 All-New Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships,” says to use what she calls a “slow-flooding smile.” Leil says, “Instantly switching to a 100-watt smile can make you seem phony. Instead, let your smile slowly when you make eye contact. This sends the message that there is something about this person in particular that you like.”
I’m sure you probably know someone whose dress, behavior, or body language, makes you want to avoid them. When attending business networking events, dress like a business person. Over dress rather than under-dress. Dress appropriately for the occasion, of course, but always appear a little more polished than everyone else. The way you dress and carry yourself makes a difference. You don’t have to be on the “best dressed” list for the year, but dress for success, and at least dress up for the occasion. People with bad grooming habits and a crummy outlook on life detract from their personal curb appeal.
Maintain eye contact long enough to determine the color of their eyes. No stalker-staring. People are inclined to like and trust those who make strong eye contact rather than someone who is constantly looking over their shoulder to see if they can find someone more interesting to talk with.
Face people directly when talking with them. Even a slight turn away signals your lack of interest and can cause the speaker to shut down. No slouching. If you want those you meet to talk more, slightly nod your head up and down as if agreeing with them. This sends a message of acceptance. Research shows that people will talk three to four times more than usual when the listener nods in this manner.
It’s important to be mindful of the nonverbal communications you are sending to your networking friends, to potential clients and other people you meet. You ARE your “brand.” Bring your personal touches and creativity to each event. Make sure you wear your brand in the most favorable way.
When someone hands you their business card, (whether you want it or not), treat it with respect. Take a few intentional moments to read it, comment on it, if appropriate, then put it in whatever pocket you’re putting the “possible future contacts” cards in or the pocket that contains all the contacts that you are sure you have no interest in contacting. Never just shove it in your pocket or purse.
Never invade someone’s personal space. Standing too close or too far away may make them feel uncomfortable. On an average, if anyone is closer than 18 inches, you may find them backing up or looking for an excuse to move on.
Be a “committed listener.” If you have a sincere interest in the person you are talking with, listen for clues that might help you keep the conversation going. Leil Lowndes, tell us, “If you can spot these words and topics, you can redirect dull, forgettable small-talk conversations toward things that people actually want to talk about.”
Overall, the perception of untrustworthiness, cleanliness (bad breath and body odor), lack of charisma and more is what detracts from your brand’s personal curb appeal. Be interesting. Be noticeable. Be friendly and personable.
Ineffective brand curb appeal undermines success! Jazz up your personal presentation of you!
Your curb appeal doesn’t matter what YOU think about it. . . it only matters how others perceive you.
Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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