Whether you’re meeting with a potential client, a possible business partner, or even a prospective employee, making a strong first impression is important.  You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and it’s important that it’s a good one.  Just as you are sizing up a new contact, it’s important to remember that they are making the same snap judgments of you.  Below are some tips to help you get new relationships off to a great start:

  1. Make your conversation about them, not you.  People love talking about themselves.  And, when they’re talking about themselves, you have the opportunity to gain important information about them… information that could prove valuable in the future. So ask questions, and make it your goal to listen more than you talk.
  2. Show them that you “get it.” Look them square in the eye at some point and summarize something big that they have told you. Whether it was a plan, a previous mistake or even a bad deal in the past, let them know you feel their pain… and how you can help them to avoid it (or how you will avoid it) in the future. This will show them that you not only “listen” to them, but that you understand what their needs are and will do your best to uphold your part of the relationship.
  3. Use their name frequently. By including their name (example: “So, Tom, when did you…”) you are making the other person feel much more comfortable in the conversation. It projects that you already are comfortable with them as well, and can allow them to bring some of their barriers down.

You never know when a relationship will develop into something incredibly powerful for your business. I could tell stories for hours of all the “random” meetings that I and many of my clients and fellow business owners have had… which started as casual encounters but led to incredible success. So take these opportunities seriously and work to make a positive first impression on prospects, colleagues, potential employees, and others that you meet. It’s worth the effort!