As a business owner, you are aware of the importance of making a good impression when meeting a potential customer or business partner, or when you’re at a networking event. And although many of us would hate to admit it, first impressions generally make lasting impressions.
The more you consistently make a positive and memorable impact on the people you meet, the better your chances will be to develop fruitful business relationships. This will have tremendous effects on your career.
So how can you make sure to leave a positive and lasting impression? Here are some tips and strategies shared by 15 members of the Young Entrepreneur Council.
Remember Their Name
People value being remembered. If at the end of your first conversation with a person, you repeat their name to them while complimenting the conversation and asking for a chance to speak to them again, they will feel valued and appreciated. When you remember someone’s name, it shows your respect for them as well as your interest in the things they had to say. – Jason Applebaum, Eager Media
We underestimate how important being present is when we meet someone. Make eye contact, have your body fully facing them and even lean in a bit. Smile when they say something interesting. Ask them thoughtful questions that show you care and are curious and that you were listening to what they said—not that you had a packaged question ready as a follow-up. Offer to help them. – Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40
Make Them Laugh
I love meeting new people and oftentimes I speak to them as if I’ve known them for a long time. I think the best way to break down any awkward or unnecessary walls is to just be open and find a way to make people laugh so that they let their guard down a bit. It’s the best way to let people know that you are an easy person to talk to, and it will definitely leave a lasting impression. – John Hall, Influence & Co.
Make Eye Contact and Offer a Firm Handshake
I try to make eye contact and approach to meet with a firm handshake right away, without hesitation. I also ask questions and listen very carefully to the answer. I always try to provide value based on the discussion and do not expect anything back in return. People appreciate a genuine approach and like to feel that somebody new is really invested in what they have to say. – Duran Inci, Optimum7
Ask How You Can Help Them
The best way to leave a positive, lasting impression when meeting people for the first time is to ask them, “How can I help you?” Instead of focusing on what you want, try asking how you can help them. You’ll be amazed by how much you help yourself by first asking how you can help others. – Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC
Everyone has been lied to and taken advantage of at some point in their lives. We are so aware these days that almost everyone can spot a liar or someone who wants to take advantage of them. We may not see it consciously, so it’s that intuition or little voice in our heads that says, “Run the other way.” Leaving a good first impression is as easy as treating people with honesty and respect. – Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
Smile Without Expectations
People can sense when others are genuine. They can also sense when someone is trying to sell them something. Do your best to find a happy medium with new people you encounter. Show interest in them, ask them questions, and be open and vulnerable about yourself. This will create a bridge to being friendly and relatable. – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
I learned that when meeting people for the first time, always look for an opportunity to find a compliment. Maybe you love the tie they are wearing. Giving the other person a compliment definitely leaves a lasting, positive impression. I bet you can remember someone who complimented you. – Raymond Kishk, Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating
People don’t often think about how they can add value to the person they are meeting. To stand out, when you receive someone’s business card, don’t just throw it into your pocket—hold onto it during the conversation and write on the back of it one way that you intend to follow up. This shows you are engaged and interested in helping them out, leaving them with a great first impression. – David Ciccarelli, Voices.com
Listen and Ask Questions
When was the last time you felt that someone was listening to you? Feeling heard is not common these days, yet it’s such a simple and effective way of leaving a lasting impression. People you meet will appreciate if you simply listen and ask questions. Don’t start off new conversations by talking about yourself, but give the other person the opportunity to do all the talking. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
Make an Introduction
One of the most effective ways to build a relationship with someone is to help them connect with someone that can help them in their business or personal life. Spend some time finding out what challenges they’re facing, whether that’s recruiting, fundraising or sales. See if you can introduce them to someone in your network. Most of the time, this not only helps them, but also the person you introduce them to. – Ross Beyeler, Growth Spark
Be Charming and Funny
Being humorous and approachable is the biggest piece of advice that I give people for leaving a lasting impression. People rarely remember what you do but always remember how you make them feel. Being approachable isn’t about being overtly kind, it’s about participating in a dialogue with equal parts listening and genuine interest. Be interested, be fun, and above all else be sincere. – Michael Spinosa, Unleashed Technologies
Speak With Meaning
Show them that you believe in what you’re talking about and tell them why it’s important to you. This can apply to your business or your hobby—everything you say should have meaning. If there is no meaning then the person on the other end of the conversation will recognize the disingenuous nature of the conversation and quickly forget who they were even talking to. – Stanley Meytin, True Film Production
Find Common Ground
When meeting someone for the first time, I like to ask questions until we find a mutual topic or interest we have in common. Figuring out what you have in common makes for a pleasant and memorable first meeting, and gives you something to start the conversation the next time you meet. – Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR
Show Appreciation and Say ‘Thank You’
The best impressions are those that show that you value other people’s time, knowledge and skills. You can tell them specifically what you valued about what they did, such as a, “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today.” “Thank you” can never be said often enough, since it’s often forgotten. – Drew Hendricks, Buttercup
The answers above are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.