Business never sleeps. It does not matter whether you are at the movie theatre, grocery store or out walking the dog. When you represent a company, either as an employee or a business owner, you always have to be ready to put your best foot forward. After all, you never know where your next sale is going to come from. Making a great first impression is one of the best ways to ensure that people keep you and your business top of mind. This is even more important when it comes to smaller markets. If you have already got social situations down to a science, I invite you to keep reading. However, if you need some help in the networking department, this post will be especially useful for you. Navigating the world of professionalism isn’t a walk in the park but if you do happen to be walking in the park when you stumble upon a networking opportunity, consult this No-Nonsense guide to making a strong first impression.

Master The Hand Shake

We have all heard it before, a good handshake makes a big difference when first introducing yourself to someone new. But it also serves as a solid reminder of a pre-established bond. In any event, there is no better way to start a guide to making solid first impressions than talking about a universal greeting gesture.

According to the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, the power of a handshake has more than just perceived impact, it has scientific merit as well. Their study showed that a good handshake helps foster positive thoughts and diminishes the chances of negative first impressions. Mastering the hand shake is simple as well; firmly grasp the other person’s hand, look them in the eye and introduce yourself with confidence. That’s it. After a while, this will become natural and it will go a long way to helping improve the impressions you make.

Learn The Art Of Listening

When first meeting someone, it is important to give them an introduction into who you are and what you do. However, many people make the mistake of forgetting to listen to the other person. Sure, we all like to talk about ourselves, but that means the person you are meeting does as well. And it is crucial that you not only listen, but pay close attention as well. This is for two reasons. Generally speaking, listening to someone shows that you are interested in what they have to say. This will help them remember your interaction as positive. In addition, you should the information they provide you with. No matter how small the talk is or minute the detail, this can help you re-establish a rapport or even serve as a valuable resource in marketing or selling to this person.

Look For Common Ground

Finding something in common with someone can take your first impression to the next level. For example, if you work in the same industry, live in the same city or have business contacts in common, these are great areas to strike up a positive and fun conversation. This is a very basic way to make a great impression with someone, simply because you will be more memorable to them. That being said, there is not always going to be overt commonalities.

The trick to always finding common ground is taking advantage of every channel with which you can be relatable to the other person. You may not both work in the same industry, however you both work. You may manage different sized teams, but you both do manage people. Constantly striving to be relatable will go along way, not just in business but with personal introductions as well.

Be Conscious Of Your Body Language

Much like the handshake, non-verbal communication is a main ingredient in the recipe for making a great first impression. There is no rule for how to stand, what to do with your hands or how to express your mood. The best you can do is act natural, express yourself with gestures and be genuinely energetic about showing the other person you are happy to meet them. If you do not do these things, it does not mean you will make a bad impression. A conscious effort to convey positive vibes using your body language will simply give you a better chance at being memorable. In this department, little things can make a big difference. Smiling, standing up to greet someone or even simply facing them while you talk will go a long way.

Remember To Follow Up

The last, and possibly most important, piece of advice is to always follow up. With social media and email, there are so many different ways to connect with someone online once you have met them in person. If you did not exchange contact info, one of the best ways to follow up is by adding the people on LinkedIn. The social network is designed to help you keep in touch with connections you have made. This allows you to send people messages in a professional, yet casual way. If you happened to exchange contact information, either an email address or phone number, follow up by sending a short, open-ended message. Thank them for their time and suggest the possibility of speaking or meeting again soon. Do not overthink your follow up and never forget to make some form of online connection with the people you meet through networking. As I said before, you never know where your next sale is going to come from. In the same way, you never know when a particular contact may be useful.

Always Be Prepared For Opportunity

One of the biggest mistakes that professionals make is letting their guard down. Now, that does not mean you always have to dress business casual and have elevator pitches on standby. It just means that you must constantly be prepared to capitalize on networking opportunities. No one expects that you will be ready for the boardroom 24/7, but it is important that you can always represent either your business or personal brand (if they are one in the same) in a favourable fashion.

Making a great first impression and building a great reputation are often overlooked aspects of marketing for your business. Moving forward, try to represent your business in the best way possible, take advantage of every chance to meet new people and always look for opportunities to turn those meetings into potential customers or partners. If you have any questions or are looking to step up your marketing, contact us. We are always looking for new ways to help brands grow.