Making a good first impression is every professional’s goal, but in actuality it’s only half the battle. After meeting someone new it’s important to make sure that great first impression sticks with them! A successful meeting means nothing if you’re forgotten the second you walk out the door.
Here are a few steps to take after making a good first impression to ensure your new business contact remembers you favorably. You never know when a first impression could blossom into a mentorship, a business partner, or a new job!
During the Meeting
Of course, you’ll have a lot on your mind as you’re trying to impress your contact – Is my tie on straight? Does my breath smell? – but it’s crucial to follow through with a few actions that ensure you get remembered…
- Repeat Your Name. Studies show that strangers best remember each other’s names after hearing them no less than three time. Tell a story where you refer to yourself in third person or repeat your name at the end of the conversation in a natural way.
- Mention Your Connection. Have a professional contact in common? Mention that person and tell a short anecdote to tie the three of you together. Professionals are more likely to remember you if you connect to them in a way that stretches outside of business.
- Ask Lots of Questions. It may seem like a good idea to verbally spout off your resume at a first meeting but it’s been scientifically proven that people regard conversations as more successful if they talk about themselves more. Get your counterpart talking and don’t let them stop – make them feel important!
- Exchange Business Cards. It should go without saying but sometimes this formality gets lots in the hustle and bustle of a first meeting, especially a short one. Be sure to give away your own car but also to ask for one in return. Never leave the follow up in someone else’s hands.
After the Meeting
When you’re done with your first meeting don’t stew over what you should have said or what you said wrong. Simply plan out the next few interactions you’ll have with the contact and stick to a schedule. It may seem formal but it’s the best way to solidify your good first impression (or correct a bad one!)
- Take Copious Notes. Whether in your phone or on a notepad, immediately after the meeting write down everything you can about the contact and the conversation. It’s especially important to jot down personal details – a child’s name, their alma matter – as these can be useful when following up.
- Reach Back Out. Wait between 4-24 hours to reach back out, but no longer. Any more and the contact may assume you’re only getting in touch because you need them for something. Email is usually a good first contact medium as it’s unobtrusive, professional, and easy to reply to.
- Mention Details. Odds are your contact meets a lot of people. In your follow-up email be sure to remind them who you were (“Bob from the elevator at the Sheraton”) and mention some points from your conversation. Always close with a personal salutation such – wish them luck on an upcoming project or congratulate their child on graduating. Details like these will show how attentive you are.
- Follow Up…Again. Wait about a week or so and follow up again with your contact. This time, ask for something specific like a reference or another meeting – it never hurts to maintain business relationships with a causal meet up about once a month. This will show you’re persistent and value the contact’s time and experience.
No matter what kind of first impression you make a few simple steps afterwards can make all the difference. Stay calm, stay focused, and have a plan – the key to a successful business relationship is cultivation!
Ryan is a Product Manager at BizShark.com, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development. In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects. Image courtesy Images Money