First impressions are everything, especially in business. If you butcher your first conversation with a potential client or first transaction with a customer, you’ll likely lose their business before you even earn it.
In order to find out how to make the right impression on anyone you meet in business, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members the following question:
Q. What is the best way to make a solid, authentic impression on people when you first meet them? Why does this approach work so well?
Here is their advice for making a lasting impact on your consumers.
1. Listen and Ask Questions
Straight from Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the best way to make a great first impression is to focus on the other person. Don’t bring up your motives; instead, learn about them and understand what value you can provide them in a relationship, rather than the value you want. It works so well because everyone likes talking about themselves. – Michael Averto, ChannelApe
2. Be Honest and Transparent
When you are being honest, you are at your most relaxed. Have nothing to hide, and you won’t have the stress of maintaining an illusion of some kind. This relaxed attitude will make a better first impression than any effort to impress you might try to force. – Zev Herman, Superior Lighting
3. Use Polite Body Language
You need to show who you are while also showing social graces, like eye contact, smiling, and handshaking. It shows your authenticity and respect for the other person. Listening and not interrupting are also critical to establishing a good relationship with the other person. – Serenity Gibbons, NAACP
4. Provide Unconditional Value
The best way to make a solid, authentic impression on people is by taking an interest in what they have going on and putting yourself second. Most people are in it for themselves. If you take interest in others and provide value unconditionally, you will build trust and make them feel valued and important. This works well because now you become an asset in their life. – Charles Koh, Pixery, Inc.
5. Be Humble
No matter how great you are and what great things you have done, being humble about it is key. This helps you be approachable and make a great impression on people. Nobody likes dealing with pompous or arrogant people. Being humble and taking a genuine interest in what someone has to say or what’s going on with them helps you connect with them on a deeper level. – Joel Mathew, Fortress Consulting
6. Repeat the Person’s Name
People love to hear the sound of their name. By repeating a person’s name back to them, you’re grabbing their attention and making a connection. You’re also helping to ensure that you don’t immediately forget their name, which is a common faux pas when shaking someone’s hand for the first time. Using a person’s name helps to convey that you’re genuinely interested in meeting them. – Stephen Beach, Craft Impact Marketing
7. Say Something Unexpected
We all know small talk is useless for making real connections. It’s often tough to get others to open up even with the right questions. Instead, start off by saying something unexpected or vulnerable to make it easier for them to follow suit. Don’t be afraid to swear. Mention a weird hobby you’d rather be doing. Tell a joke. A chuckle goes a long way! – Dan Golden, BFO (Be Found Online)
8. Express Empathy and Offer Assistance
One of the best ways to engage with people is to make yourself helpful to them. This doesn’t mean selling them on your own business, as this comes across as self-serving (unless they ask, of course). Ask them about their job or business and address a certain challenge they are facing. Even showing empathy helps you connect, but if you can offer a tangible suggestion, that’s even better. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
9. Give Them Your Undivided Attention
To make a solid, authentic impression on people when you first meet someone, give them the most valuable thing that you can: your attention. In this day and age where so many are focused on themselves, actually showing interest and curiosity about someone else is a true game changer because it’s so rare. When you give people your undivided attention, you leave a lasting impression. – Antonio Neves, THINQACTION Inc.
10. Just Be Yourself
When I go into networking events, I never try to impress or be someone that I am not. I’ll talk about my failures and successes. Being transparent makes me more relatable, regardless of the situation. I found this approach so effective — it’s as if I’m just talking to my friends or family. Whether a person will like me or not won’t matter as long as I stay true to myself. – Fritz Colcol, ABN Circle
These answers are provided by 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.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.