Entrepreneurs need to make good impressions — whether online, in person or on the phone. Make a great first impression so when you wrap up a conversation the person with whom you were interacting feels good about him- or herself and feels as though you truly listened to what they had to say.

Conversational skills are crucial to growing a network and a business. It could make the difference between closing a deal or having that person walk away with a bad taste in his or her mouth and deciding not to work with you.

Make A Great First Impression

Physical impression. Know how they say you only get one time to make a first impression? It’s true. Even if you’re a solopreneur who works at home in pajamas most of the time, if you’re going to a networking meeting or hosting a video chat or even getting on a phone call — get dressed. You don’t have to don a suit and tie, but you should project a professional appearance. It’s been shown that even if you dress up for a phone call you will project yourself in a more professional manner. If you’re at a networking event or a conference, don a conversation starter piece — for a woman that could be a scarf or pin or even the purse she’s carrying. For a man it could be a unique tie or briefcase. This is a great way to connect and when you follow up after the meeting you can say, “I was the man/woman wearing the XYZ” it will help raise recognition.

Get others to talk about you. If you want to really make an impression, get others to talk about you. They can introduce you and say, “Wow, did you know that Joe is an expert at…” It’s much better to hear from someone else that you have a talent than it is for you to toot your own horn.

Start a conversation about the other person! Ask, “What are you doing?” “Do you have any exciting projects in the works?” When you show an interest in them, you are opening the door for that person to take an interest in you. Avoid politics or religion unless you know the crowd with whom you’re interacting.

Tell a story. This doesn’t mean you have to give a recitation of your accomplishments, it truly means “tell a story.” Practice your elevator speech in a way that is more of a storytelling conversation than your reading your CV. If someone asks, “Oh, how did you get into that line of work?” Have your story ready. Highlight your qualities through the insights you share and the stories you tell.

Remember, not every conversation has to be a sales call. Be natural. Let the conversation flow. If you’re asked, “So, what do you do?” Share!

What are your best “first impression” tips?


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