5 WAYS TO TURN A FIRST MEETING INTO A LASTING IMPRESSION August 20, 2020 | Business Tips , Marketing | networking , client satisfaction By Kimberly Stevens, NPI, Inc.'s Marketing Coach To become a successful business owner means developing strong working relationships with clients, fellow franchisees, business networking groups, contractors and other professionals. Networking comes as second nature for some, but for others, it can be a bit of a challenge. The good news is that making lasting impressions can be learned--it just takes practice, patience and a little know-how. Following these simple guidelines can help you make the networking connections that could transform your business. 1. Carry Business Cards Always give new contacts a business card so they know how to get in touch! But never rely on your wallet to keep cards in great shape; instead, pick up a pocket business card holder or portfolio pad to keep them neat, flat and dry and to safely hold any cards you collect from others. You may also want to give away sample reports, brochures, pens, notepads or other marketing items. 2. Dress for Success Making a habit of looking well-groomed every day means you’ll always be ready to put your best foot forward. You never know where you might find a great referral. If you know you’ll be meeting new people, your regular inspection uniform (or a slightly more polished version of it) will go a long way. Plan on wearing clean khakis, a tucked-in NPI polo and clean dress shoes. Be sure to keep hair and facial hair neat and nails trimmed. It’s also never a bad idea to carry breath mints and to stash extra deodorant in your vehicle just in case. Never plan to go directly from an inspection to a networking event without changing clothes--you’ll likely sweat and may even encounter a dirty crawl space or attic. 3. Bring the Right Energy You may be experiencing a wide range of emotions going into a meeting, chief among them nervousness. This can lead you to second-guess yourself and become anxious about how the meeting might go. Don’t worry, this is perfectly natural to feel, but it doesn’t mean you should let it overtake you. An hour or so before the meeting starts, take some time to visualize yourself speaking about your ideas and other topics. This is also a good time to go over any notes that you may have and practice your pitch. Simply smiling can help calm your nerves, improve your mood and get you in the right mindset. 4. Engage in Active Listening Hearing what other people have to say plays a large role in setting the foundation for a lasting relationship in business. Actively listening to what someone says lets them know that you care about their ideas and opinions. Be sure to nod, smile and repeat verbiage they use so they know you’re listening. Plan on asking them many questions about their role, professional background and inspection needs. You can learn a lot about a person from engaging them this way. Plus, taking the time to make a conversation more personal gets rid of some of the initial awkwardness that can come with a first meeting. 5. Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Cues Along with speaking to someone personally, you can pick up subtle hints and clues from body language. Smiling is one way to communicate without words and show you’re friendly and professional. When you are sitting across from someone, sit up straight and make eye contact to show them that they have your full attention. If you’re giving a presentation, try to minimize the times you turn your back to the room and periodically look around the crowd. It’s often possible to pick up on energy just by being observant. For example, if you spot a presentation participant nodding off or you notice the person you’re in a one-to-one meeting with checking the time, you’ll know to move on to a new topic or wrap up your session. Call Your NPI Marketing Coach Today NPI Marketing Coach Kimberly Stevens is always here to help you polish up your networking skills. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a coaching call. About the Author Kimberly Stevens, Marketing Coach The baby of eight children, Kimberly learned quickly to master the art of communication in order to be heard. She has been with NPI for more than 15 years and is passionate about getting to know our franchisees. Kimberly is a certified marketing and business coach, trainer and speaker, leading training seminars, one-to-one coaching and more. She's a high-energy, fiery red head and an eternal optimist. Her greatest joy is celebrating our franchisees’ victories!