The first impression is a fickle beast – you have a single moment with which to show someone else the best of you, and there’s only so much of that you can control.
Apart from first introductions, your first interaction and conversation can form the base of the rest of your relationship – and when you’re operating in business you want every interaction and relationship to be positive and productive.
To create your great first impression, there are things you can do in preparation, as well as conversation do’s and don’ts that you can implement and refine once you’re in the interaction.
How to be prepared for your first impression:
Don’t be late
It feels like the most basic rule, but rocking up late to an event or meeting is giving yourself the worst possible start to an interaction. As the old saying goes, early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.
Yes, there are always valid reasons that you mightn’t be on time, and things outside your control, but it’s always something to strive for.
Read more: 5 Tips For Speed Networking Like A Pro
Look your best
Very few people can pull off dressing in sweatpants and a tee for a business meeting or event. You don’t have to be in black tie 24/7, but putting extra effort into cleanliness and presentation can help sway those instantaneous assumptions from a first glance.
Have some small talk ideas ready to go
You don’t need to jump into a conversation about the weather but knowing what questions you can ask to keep a conversation moving along, no matter who you’re talking to, is invaluable.
Turn off the tech
Okay, you’re not actually going to turn your phone off – but at the very least turn it to do-not-disturb or silent. On most phones there’s an option to prioritise a few callers to break through the do-not-disturb mode, so if your excuse is that you’re waiting on an urgent call you can utilise this! This is tailored more at events, but even if you have a casual encounter with someone, leave your phone firmly in your pocket!
The main event
Nerves are your worst enemy when it comes to new interactions – you may be someone who taps, stammers or plays with your hands, and you mightn’t even know you’re doing it. Standing tall with your shoulders back and being aware of your personal space is important – it’s a good thing to practice being conscious of what all your limbs are doing when you feel under pressure.
There’s a temptation to present an exaggerated version of yourself to somebody when you feel invested in the conversation, but the majority of the time this leads to a spiral of trying to remember what lies you actually told. Genuine connections are more likely to happen over genuine character traits and conversations, rather than a sterilised version.
Read more: Do Creative Coworking Spaces Really Help?
Whether you’re in an interview, at a networking event, or are being introduced to someone by a mutual connection, it doesn’t have to be one-sided. You should always be looking for something to further the conversation, but there’s also a fine line between guiding questions and interrogation.
Find common ground
Odds are that if you are already at the same event/venue, know mutual friends, or have any sort of connection, that you have something in common. Picking up on subtle cues on possible overlaps in your interests is a great way to form a better connection – and when it comes to collaboration or working together, you can use this information to build a future.
Give rather than take
Keep an eye out for what you can add for the other person – if they mention a gap for someone with skills you have, offer to help them out, or if you know someone with those skills, offer to connect them. You should go into conversations with the mindset of not expecting anything, and instead, aim to build quality relationships.
If you make promises or commitments in your interaction, follow through! Grab a business card and send a follow-up email, and set to work on any deliverables there may be. This helps to position yourself as reliable, and ultimately someone great to work with and connect with regularly.
Networking is something that gets better with practice. Being part of a business community in a coworking space like Hub Australia gives you countless opportunities to create meaningful connections with other members. With regular events like the weekly Wine Downs, and the number of people you share a space with, you’ve got the opportunity to give a first impression over and over again, and grow your network into something wonderful.
Read more: Business Networking Tips You Need to Know
If you want to join a coworking space that puts you alongside hundreds of motivated entrepreneurs and businesses, book a tour at Hub Australia.
With locations in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, and every membership allowing access to visit every other site in Australia as well as our global LEXC network, you can grow your network in the same place everyone comes to grow their business.