In any client or customer meeting, those first ten seconds are arguably more important than all of the minutes or hours that might follow. Making the most of those first few seconds will give you a tremendous advantage and will make the prospect of that client returning for repeat business all the more likely.
At any new client meeting, you should treat the experience almost as you would a first date. This includes keeping many of your more ostentatious opinions to yourself, making an effort to listen to what they have to say and knowing when the respond with a laugh, a smile or a polite nod. Ultimately, however, you could give them the answers to all of their questions and the keys to all of their desires, but if you make a poor first impression, it will matter for nought.
Of course, there are the basic first-impression tips that can be applied to almost any situation:-
- Eye contact and sincere smiles.
- Open, friendly greetings with a perfectly judged handshake (or even a hug if you’re more familiar).
- Show up on time.
- Be kind and respectful.
- Make sure your body language is appropriate and confident.
There are, however, a few more specific tips to consider when meeting a prospective client for the first time.
Dress to Impress
Your goal is for the client to like and trust you, so your wardrobe should be prepared accordingly. A well-fitting suit and a good pair of dress shoes that are clean and freshly polished should also be absolutely necessary. Turning up in knackered trainers, or even relatively smart converse boots will undoubtedly give off the wrong impression.
Always arrive early. Expediency is a quality that many potential clients will admire as it not only reveals a certain amount of dedication and discipline on your part, but will let them know you’re ready to put the extra time and effort in when necessary. Showing up early will also give you time to prepare and gather your thoughts for the meeting ahead.
Don’t just turn up to a meeting (or even a casual lunch) with nothing but a nice suit and a smile. Be prepared and make sure you know as much as possible about your client before stepping foot in the room. Notes are always a good idea, but you could even go further and have an entire presentation prepared. If the situation allows for it.
Don’t Try Too Hard
If you’re trying too hard to make an impression it might come across as transparent and unprofessional. Make an effort, of course, but don’t forget to stick to what you know (to a point) and don’t overplay your hand. You should also be able to relax (or at least give off the impression that you’re relaxed) around the client, as if you’re on edge, it will almost certainly put them on edge!
Put the Phone Away
Finally, we might be living in a modern world where mobile distraction is perpetually hovering over us like a rusty gallows, but that doesn’t mean we have to give in. Keep your smartphone, tablet or laptop in your pocket or bag and put them on silent!