The saying “you only get one first impression” is all too true. When meeting potential clients or team members for the first time, you need to make sure to leave a lasting, positive impression behind, something you can build on as the professional relationship develops.
Yet, not every entrepreneur is completely comfortable meeting new people. Creating a memorable moment takes confidence and experience, the application of which can require fine-tuning, depending on the audience. So how can you leave a lasting, positive impression people will remember? Here are some approaches members of Young Entrepreneur Council advise you consider:
1. Bring Positive Energy
A positive mindset and a cheerful, optimistic attitude will open more doors than anything else. Don’t be overly bubbly or inauthentic, but if you focus on success and bring a solution-oriented mindset into your meetings, you will find the people around you will start thinking the same way. – Tony Scherba, Yeti
2. Be Approachable and Helpful
Being a genuine person and speaking in an approachable way sounds easy, but entrepreneurs too often revert to trying to “sell” the potential client or team member with a canned spiel. Ensuring you don’t come across as having a “salesy” vibe is vital — make it clear that your only motivation is to solve their problem or give them the best possible service, even if it means pointing them elsewhere. – Keith Shields, Designli
3. Shut Up and Listen
Nine times out of ten, I get conversationally steamrolled when meeting a new person, especially in business. People mistake talkativeness for confidence. When that happens to me, I shut down. So, shut up and listen. Ask questions to get to know a new client or team member. Potential customers will tell you exactly what you want if they feel heard and understood. – Jessica Gonzalez, InCharged
4. Make Them Laugh
As the saying goes, people will not remember what you said, but how you made them feel. Approaching meetings with humor or finding levity makes people feel at ease and more likely to absorb your material in the long run. – Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID, Inc.
5. Turn Your Phone Off
Make a point of turning your phone off during the meeting and let the potential client or team member know that. When the other party knows that they have your full attention and you’ve made every effort to put your full focus on them, that will leave a lasting impression. Especially today when everyone has their phone glued to their hand, waiting for the next call. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
6. Know Your Stuff
It doesn’t matter if you are introverted or extroverted; if you go into a meeting and are an expert on your topic, you will be remembered. It demonstrates that you are passionate about what you do, that you aren’t going to waste anyone’s time and that you’re the best person to work with. – Colbey Pfund, LFNT Distribution
7. Be Personal
I am a big believer in being personal. Besides shop-talk, I like to ask questions and talk about personal habits, free time, family, and travel. It allows people to let down their guard and be themselves, which is most comfortable. It also opens the door to be able to connect on things outside of work. Lasting impressions start with being memorable and being able to connect on a personal level. – Will Land, Accessory Export, LLC
8. Be Honest and Transparent
There are two things that show a client that you are authentic and interested in their success. The first is to be sincere in your approach with them. The other is to be able to be honest about not knowing everything. Try to stay transparent and confident. It’s an important thing to balance. – Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
9. Follow Up Immediately
The best way to ensure a positive impression when meeting with potential clients is to send out a personalized gift immediately following the meeting. At every customer interaction, I’m listening for what really matters to them — their family, a sports team, or a special hobby or interest. I then send a small but meaningful gift. This shows them that I listened to and truly care about our relationship. – Daniel Reilly, B2X Global
10. Take a Moment to Reflect Before Meeting
On the way to the meeting, take a minute of gratitude for where you are, and think about all of the things that you appreciate that you want to share with them. Review core values, then remind yourself of why these team members or potential clients fit with your core values (otherwise, why are you taking the meeting?). This will be in the back of your mind and show through when you meet face to face. – Alisha Navarro, 2 Hounds Design
11. Find Common Factors
Whenever I talk to potential clients, I always try to find common factors. It could be anything: what college they went to, what sports they like, where they live, what local restaurants they like, their passion, what goals they have with the business, etc. These topics allow me to connect with the person beyond the business and also have a stronger impact. – Piyush Jain, SIMpalm
12. Repeat Their Name and Make Eye Contact
People love to hear the sound of their name and want to be noticed and heard. By repeating a client or team member’s name back to them and making eye contact, you’re grabbing their attention and making a connection. Doing these things helps to convey that you’re genuinely interested in what the other person has to say. – Stephen Beach, Craft Impact Marketing
13. Give Them Something Every Time
Ever wonder why all car salesmen give away something at their stores? Coffee, hot dogs, keychains: you always walk out with something. That is because of the law of reciprocity: If I give you something, you feel obligated to return the favor. Use human behavior in your favor and never leave a meeting without giving a token, an idea, or a relevant article. You’ll be gone, but it will stay with them. – Codie Sanchez, Cresco Capital Partners
These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.