Business Networking Tips – How to Nail First Impressions

Reflecting on my networking journey over the past year, I wanted to share a couple of key secrets to making a great impression. Honestly, these are things I’ve picked up from other people I met that I now make the effort to emulate when I meet other people. Here we go!

Shake hands well.

Make sure your handshake aligns with how you want to present yourself to me. For fun, feel free to use this comic from The Oatmeal as an exercise to consider the following:

  • What does it say about a person when s/he offers these handshakes?
  • How does it makes you feel when you receive this kind of handshake?
  • Finally, how do you want people to feel after you shake their hands?

Frankly, it’s worth practicing with another person. Ask someone what s/he honestly thinks about your shake and how s/he feels afterward.

Respect the card.

Take a second to look at my business card. There are enough features of the card based on its design, material, and the information on it that there has to be something interesting to comment on or ask about. (Heck, I’m proud of mine! There’s a story there!)

Furthermore, this is a great opportunity for us to create a mutually memorable connection. Find a compliment or at least a neutral comment of interest, such as…

  • “My [relative]’s name is [Sarah]”
  • *Point at address* “Is that near [Location of Interest]?”
  • “Nice headshot!” (Bonus points for adding, “Where did you have it taken?”)
  • “Ooh, shiny!”

I always seek to find some common ground, or at least learn something interesting about them to help me remember them later on. The trick is to be curious without asking so many questions that it starts to feel like an interrogation.

What do you focus on when trying to make a good first impression?

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