High-performing sales professionals and executives make conscious time to network and explore new leads. In business building trust quickly has several benefits. Not only does it make you memorable but also incredibly valuable. Recovering from a bad first meeting is hard to do but there are several easy ways to avoid fumbling and instead create a positive first impression.
What not to do
Don’t treat initial conversation like a round of speed dating. It’s a poor idea to spend your time ranting about your qualifications and accomplishments. There is a time and place for this and it’s best received coming from someone other than yourself. You don’t want to be remembered as the one who wouldn’t stop talking about him/ herself.
What you should do
Practice Active Listening. Make eye contact and ask questions that have impact.
Arrive prepared. To ensure you’re ready for conversation, do some research about your subject before the meeting. This doesn’t need to exceed a few minutes and can help move conversation forward if there is a lull. Be ready with 2 or 3 key facts about them that are unique and interesting to you.
Be dependable. Think about someone you trust. Whether it’s your boss or your significant other, chances are you trust them because they’ve proved to be dependable. Take this opportunity to showcase that you are a man/woman of your word. Confirm your meeting place, date and time the day before. Make good on your promise of deliverables following the meeting. If you promised materials after the meeting, provide them within 24 hours. (Sooner is better!)
Be funny! Humor is disarming and when used appropriately can increase overall comfort and make you memorable.
Be self-effacing in an authentic way. Authenticity is key! Admit your foibles. Many think this destroys credibility in a client relationship but in theory it has the opposite effect. Sharing concerns or mistakes you’ve made along your professional career is one of the quickest ways to build trust. It shows you’re authentic and not only showing your best face.
Send a handwritten thank you note. Providing a thank you note after your meeting will help you to stay top of mind. Handwritten notes are the most impactful and offer yet one more touchpoint for building upon your client relationship.