Grandma was right. You do only get one chance to make a good first impression. When you’re networking, one goal should always be to make the very best first impression you can on the strangers you meet. “Uncommon courtesy” is a key strategy throughout all your networking relationships. Often that relationship begins at a networking or professional association event by interacting with a winning smile.
- A winning, sincere and engaging smile says so much about the person wearing it. That smile clearly announces, “I’m a friendly, helpful and interesting person, someone you’ll enjoy meeting”.
- Eye contact is an essential component of your winning smile. Yes, we smile with our eyes as well as our mouth. From 10 feet away, you can make eye contact with a person and reinforce it with your smile.
- During your focused but brief interaction, maintain direct eye contact with that person. Don’t scan the room trying to identify who else you might want to meet. Strong eye contact suggests confidence and credibility.
- While you don’t smile all the time – it would look insincere or peculiar – you should always have a pleasant, confident and interested expression. The stress of talking to strangers can easily show up on your face, so try to relax the tension in your facial muscles.
- Look at the person’s name tag several times during that initial conversation to reinforce his or her name and employer in your short-term memory.
A winning smile combined with effective eye contact can get your networking relationship off to a great start and lay the foundation for that positive first impression. Try these techniques out at the next networking event you attend. I’ll be looking for you … and your smile.