How to Make a Good Impression at a First Business Meeting
Making a good first impression involves presenting yourself and your business in the best possible way. As successful entrepreneurs develop their business plan, they typically seek out investors and business partners. To develop these new business relationships, they use effective communication and time management techniques. Adequate preparation for a first business meeting ensures the most positive outcome. Schedule meetings at times when you won’t be rushed or distracted. Do some research about participants, particularly if they are from other cultures. Making a good first impression has a last impact on any relationship.
Before you attend your first meeting with a new business stakeholder, client, customer, or partner, find out a little about them. Using online tools, such as Hoovers, Dun and Bradstreet or a local community directory, do some research about the company they represent. That way, you’ll have the insight into company history and operations in order to ask some intelligent questions during the course of your meeting. Additionally, use online websites, such as Cultural Navigator or Country Navigator to learn how to successfully interact with people from other countries, cultures and backgrounds. Prepare a few questions in advance. In addition, have some materials, such as brochures, product specifications or other marketing collateral, to share with your new business colleague.
Dress appropriately for a first business meeting, typically depending on the time of day and location of the meeting. Try to anticipate the style of other participants. Dressing too formally or too casually indicates you having thought about the purpose of the meeting. For example, for a meeting at a conference center, wear a formal business suit in muted, dark colors with a light-colored shirt to present a polished, crisp image. On the day of the meeting, arrive a few minutes ahead of time. By scheduling meetings when you’ll have the least distractions and conflicts, you’ll be able to focus on building a good relationship with a new business contact. If you’re traveling to an unfamiliar location or anticipate traffic, allow extra time to arrive and find your meeting location.
Introduce yourself to other participants. Start by commenting on the weather, traffic or other light topic to put others at ease. Turn off your mobile phone and listen attentively to what people say. As the meeting progresses, make relevant contributions to the discussion but avoid talking too much, interrupting others and starting an argument. To make a good impression at a first business meeting, you want to get to know the other participants and lay the foundation for a good working relationship.
As the meeting concludes, decide on what actions you want to take next. For example, schedule another meeting, arrange for follow-up phone calls or agree to send additional literature and information. By being positive, courteous and attentive, you show people that you are interested in building a lasting relationship that can enable success for your business and theirs.