Business is about relationships – and if you think investment is an imprecise science, you’re going to love the fuzzy logic of interpersonal chemistry.
Who we connect with on a professional or personal basis can be pretty surprising, and it can be a beautiful thing when you ‘just click’ with someone with whom you seem to have little in common. Like the economic side of business, you can’t make any failsafe guarantees, but there are steps the serious businessperson can take to raise the odds of a favorable outcome – in other words, cultivating colleague and client relationships that are as profitable as they are enjoyable.
And much of it comes down to first impressions.
First impressions are hard to shake. They will flavor your entire relationship with each person that you meet – and a bad start takes a lot of work to undo, if you even get that chance. It takes just a tenth of a second for someone to decide how trustworthy they think you are, so it’s no good relying on your true nature or your broader reputation to get you through. These factors are also very important, but human beings rely disproportionately on personal intuition when it comes to striking a deal with a stranger.
The hard work begins long before those precious first seconds. Ahead of a meeting, find out what you can about the person that you’re about to meet. Check them out on social media or ask a mutual acquaintance what type of person they are. Maybe they have a shared interest you can use to bond with them, or a pet hate – such as having their name mispronounced – that is best avoided.
You should also research your topic and the conditions surrounding it so as to be and appear confident in your demeanor. You might even have a run through with a colleague ahead of an important meeting with an investor, to help you iron out all the “ums” and “ahs” that studies have shown can seriously undermine the impression of confidence you convey.
Be careful not to be overbearing with this knowledge, however. You will make an investor happier and more engaged if you subtly encourage them to talk about themselves. Begin by asking something casual but not too personal to strike up that familiarity – something about their journey or their evening plans. Framing some of your business points as questions enables you to keep the conversation open and allow the other guy to feel they’re contributing and not being ‘sold to’.
And while nothing replaces the value of what you’re saying, your physical appearance and behavior does have a significant bearing on how you’re heard. So smile, but don’t force it; maintain eye contact to give the impression that you’re intelligent and engaged; and keep those arms unfolded!
This new guide to making the right initial impact contains all the tools you need to start things off on the right foot. Business relationships are a tough call to predict, but you can give yourself a huge advantage by stacking the odds in favor of making a good first impression.