When you are running your own business or you are the face of a particular brand or business, it's essential that within those first few minutes of meeting a new client, they make a great first impression of you and your business. A bad first impression can have a lasting negative effect – customers may be put off buying from you or other businesses may not want to do business with you in the future. That initial bad impression can be hard to change.
Running a virtual assistant business means I have to make a great first impression to other businesses - I want them to know that I'm professional, organised and can be trusted with their work. All of that, and more, can come across during that initial meeting. Don't waste it!
Below are some helpful tips on making a good first impression.
If you're looking smart and well-groomed, people will think your business is, too. It might sound a bit shallow, but to potential clients your tidy and clean appearance shows them how much professionalism and attention-to-detail you display in your working life. Looking scruffy and unpolished makes you look disorganised and like you would be towards any work or business they give you.
Looking great is step one. Acting the part is step two. When you meet new clients for the first time, ensure you give them a firm handshake, a winning smile and steady eye contact. People who don't look others in the eye often appear shady or unsure of themselves. Make sure your body language mirrors how confident and strong you feel – straighten your shoulders, stand up tall, smile and nod in agreement. Don't fold your arms over your chest or fidget, as it will make you look defensive and nervous.
Interest & Research
Make sure you do your research before you meet a potential client for the first time. You don't want to be caught out when they ask you what you already know about their business! Be prepared to ask questions – it shows how interested you are in working with them. It's important to sell yourself and the services you offer, but it's equally important to listen and show interest in your prospective client's business.
Show What you Can Do
Ensure you are prepared for the specific situation; if it's a networking event make sure you know what you'll say when people ask you what you do or if it's a conference make sure you have a short presentation prepared. Be ready to mingle and share advice or expertise with potential clients. Give them a little snippet of what you can offer them if they choose to work with you. Tease them with your skills and knowledge without confusing them with industry jargon.
Keep Your Promises
The key to a great first impression is to keep that impression strong, way beyond the initial meeting. That means you have to keep any promises you make to potential clients when you first meet them. Did you say you'd send them an email? Well, send it! Did you say you'd introduce them to a contact of yours? Well, get introducing! Potential clients will be glad to know you have some business integrity.