So, you’re attending a business event. You have a networking plan; you know who you want to meet and what purpose you have for meeting them. You have your business cards and you’re ready to get out there and make new connections. The one thing you probably didn’t think about is what kind of impression you are going to make.
It’s been said most people will judge you within the first few seconds of meeting you. During these first seconds, they form an opinion of you and that opinion is how they will remember you.
During a networking event or large conference, it is important to not only be yourself but to also represent your company in a way that you want others to view it. Levy Recognition has a few tips for making first impressions that count.
Wear the Right Clothes
Clothes, make-up, jewelry and other accessories are all things people look at when making an initial judgment of you. Be sure to make sure your outfit is appropriate for the event you are attending. You will want to be comfortable, but also professional. Well-fitting clothes and smart accessory choices will make you more confident and ready to impress.
Your Body Language Speaks for You
Making eye contact and using a sturdy handshake when meeting someone new shows that you are respectful and interested in what the other person brings to the meeting. Your posture and how you sit or stand says a lot about you. Fidgeting and nervous twitches could make you appear unkempt and lacking focus. Hunching shows disinterest and laziness. You want your body language to reflect someone who is strong, confident and knowledgeable. Sit or stand up straight, reduce the urge to fidget or hunch and always smile. A relaxed and natural smile sends the message that you are authentic and engaged.
Put Your Cellphone Away
Using your cellphone during a business event is distracting and makes you appear uninterested in the presenters or other business professionals in attendance. If you are attending a conference event that has guest speakers or workshops, refrain from checking texts and emails during their presentations. Remember, your goal in attending any business event is to make connections with the people in front of you, not the ones you’re already connected with through your smartphone. If you are waiting for an important call or message, excuse yourself and check your phone in private.
Make Connections, Not Sales
Don’t try to close a deal. Networking events are an opportunity to meet people and figure out what interests you may share with them. Typically, networking events are not the place to make business deals or product sales. Being overly aggressive or using too much of a sales pitch can be a turnoff. Other attendees are there to make new connections and learn more about businesses that may have common interests. Keep in mind that they may not be prepared to make major business decisions or purchases during the event. If they are truly interested in making a business deal with your company, give them a brochure or business card so they will be reminded of your products and services once the networking event is over. If the event features a business fair, exhibitors may ask interested booth visitors to sign up for a mailing list or exchange other contact information.
Attending networking events and business conferences can give a great deal of exposure to your business. How you present yourself during these events could determine how people not only view you, but also your business. Approach each new person you meet with a genuine interest in who they are. Maintaining a professional image throughout will lead to better conversations and lasting connections. When you make a great first impression, others become more interested in getting to know you as well.
We hope you can apply these tips at your next conference! We know we’ll be taking our own advice at the WBENC National Conference & Business Fair in June. What tips do you have for making good first impressions?
This is part of our Networking Series. Our other tips include:
# 1 Plan Your Networking Strategy
#2 Making a Positive First Impression
#3 Business Card Etiquette
#4 Tricks to the Tradeshow Booth
#5 Following Up After Your Networking Event