Last week, in part one of the Network Smarter series, we talked about social media, personal brand, and your professional online presence. That may be the first step in networking but it’s certainly not the last. Here are six tips to help you make a great first impression:
1. Think about your appearance.
I agree with Oscar Wilde who said, “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” Especially when it comes to first impressions. Initial reactions matter. Pay attention your appearance including accessories, clothes, etc., before your next meet-n-greet event. As unfair as it may seem, people will make assumptions about your personality based on what you’re wearing, your hygiene, and how you carry yourself. It’s just human nature.
2. Use your full name.
During introductions, “using your full name is not only a more memorable way to forge a connection, but also makes for a more confident first impression,” according to this GetSmarter presentation on slideshare, and using your full name couldn’t hurt either way. Easy button!
3. Be conscious of your body language.
Body language is crucial. Do you slouch or make exaggerated gestures? You might be sending the wrong message.Simply being aware of your body language can result in immediate improvements. Check out 15 Body Language Secrets of Successful People for more on this.
4. Be interested.
Forget the self-proclaimed elevator speech. The conversations you have with people should be organic. Adapt to communication styles and approach others with a genuine interest in who they are. The rest will follow. This means asking open-ended questions and letting your acquaintance talk more than you. Do this and you will have better conversations from the get-go, promise.
5. (Selectively) use the power of touch.
“Touch can influence behavior, increase the chances of compliance, make the person doing the touching seem more attractive and friendly, and can even help you make a sale,” says LinkedIn Influencer Jeff Haden in his article 10 Habits of Genuinely Charming People. But a little goes a long way. A confident handshake at the beginning and end of your conversation and an appropriate mid-conversation pat on the back or upper arm is all you need to make this magic work.
6. Follow up.
Never ask for anything from someone you just met but don’t wait for them to take initiative either. Use the business card you collected to send a follow up by email, phone, or LinkedIn invitation and thank them for taking a moment to speak with you. Then continue the conversation by referencing something you discussed previously. This could include sending an article of interest you mentioned or asking a follow up question that hadn’t crossed your mind before.
Maintain with next week’s topic: Lasting Connections
About the Author
My love of words began at an early age: speaking in rhymes and alliterations just because I liked the sound of them. As I grew, I began to appreciate the way words connected to create images in poetry and the impact they had on others as a story. I believe it was this initial fascination (paired with a little design and technical knack) that led me into the Learning Design Specialist position at Leggett & Platt. Now I get to leverage words, visuals, and learning strategies to contribute to the professional development of our people. The work is challenging and creative which keeps me engaged, but it’s the give back element that makes it all worthwhile.