Your very first business meeting: a dreaded, albeit positive challenge that so many entrepreneurs, experts, as well as business owners have a hard time facing when the day comes. From a leadership perspective, this single encounter with your team, your potential investors, or your business partners can shape the future of your personal brand and your reputation.
When you’re entering the room as one of the employees, you want to make yourself heard, but without stepping on anyone’s toes. You want to be noticed, but in the most positive light.
This balancing act is not always easy to achieve, especially for people who might have a hard time with subtle social hues, certain cultural expectations, or they simply feel tense and leave the wrong impression due to stress. To deal with all of these facets of the challenge, let’s go over a few actionable ideas you can add to your preparation arsenal when it’s time to shake some hands!
Focus on the people around you
Whenever you get antsy, it’s easy to focus on yourself too much, on the shaking hands and trembling voice, on the sweat pooling at the low of your back, and other not-so-comfortable telltale signs of nervousness.
One of the simplest ways to actually distract yourself in a productive manner is to focus on those around you and what they are saying. That allows you to notice and remember important details of all those attending the meeting, including their names, positions in an organization, and certain qualities.
Perhaps the gentleman in the gray suit seems to be everything but memorable, but if you compliment him on his tie or politely ask him to repeat his name, maybe you can continue the conversation and learn more about him.
Remember: the people you want to impress are the ones you should focus on, so remembering relevant details about them is a perfect way to clear your mind, ease your nerves, and leave a lasting impression.
Practice certain body language cues
A major part of all communication actually boils down to the unspoken. You’ll find that someone’s sincere smile, firm handshake, and genuine eye contact can transform the interaction from a dull into a memorable one.
The same applies to other, less known habits we often have without ever realizing their implications in all of our business communication. For example, would you ever take someone seriously if they keep staring at their phone every five minutes, or they stare out the window with zero interest for what you’re saying?
Learning how to use appropriate gestures and mannerisms can actually help make a presentation much more intriguing and illustrate certain points you want your listeners to remember. You can use body language to show that you’re paying close attention to what is being said.
In so many ways, what you don’t say can shape the impression you’re about to leave, so make sure to practice your presentation and your body language – it is, after all, a learned skill.
Make sure you arrive with a few minutes to spare
The term “being fashionably late” certainly doesn’t apply to business situations. Especially not when you’re about to enter a meeting for the first time, since all you’ll be remembered by is your lack of punctuality and interrupting the flow of the meeting that has already started.
Much like all those unspoken things you convey through body language, your punctuality speaks volumes of your business etiquette.
This applies even if your very first meeting is taking place in a different city, so the best way to ensure a timely arrival is to rely on professional services such as Avis car hire and pick a vehicle that will get you to your destination in time, safely, and in style.
That way, you are in full control of your time and your schedule, and you will be able to reach your meeting with enough time to introduce yourself to others, prepare for the event, and regain your composure.
Personal hygiene should be your priority
Too much cologne, perfume, or makeup is never a great idea. However, personal grooming and general self-care are somewhat of a no-brainer in general, let alone when you’re preparing for such an important occasion.
So, you should consider having your go-to beauty bag, or a grooming bag for those who need a slightly manlier perspective, consisting of wet wipes, a deodorant, dental floss, a comb, and breath mints.
That way, even if you’re driving in from out of town, your freshly-pressed suit waiting in the back of your car can match your flawless hygiene essentials. This is a good time to note that the dress code is always different, but professional attire is a must, so make sure that your looks match your values and that they are appropriate for the occasion.
Individually, some of these may not seem all that powerful, but put them all together into a single personal presentation, and you have a winning strategy to impress anyone attending the meeting.
From fixing your posture and practicing your listening skills, all the way to being mindful of other people at all times, weave these ideas into a unique presentation, and your success will slowly build up one great meeting at a time.