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DO YOU SEE YOURSELF THE WAY YOUR POTENTIAL CLIENTS OR CUSTOMERS SEE YOU?


Handshake

DO YOU SEE YOURSELF THE WAY YOUR POTENTIAL CLIENTS OR CUSTOMERS SEE YOU?

I was recently at a networking meeting, when I began to notice the appearance of the folks around me – it made me stop and look into a mirror to see how I looked, too. Now, I’m not talking about beauty or physique, etc.. Those are external things that certainly can’t hurt, but I was looking more at the subliminal messages I might have been giving; those things that leave an impression that you might not even be aware of. For instance:

  1. SHAKING HANDS: One of the biggest turn-offs is the ‘limp’ handshake – you know, the one that feels like you’re shaking hands with a fish! Handshakes are actually quite important. They’re one of the few socially acceptable ways to make physical contact with another person, whether of the same or opposite sex. Try to focus on making your handshake firm, but certainly not overbearing to the point that it seems like you’re challenging the other person to a squeezing contest. (Men: If you’re shaking hands with a woman, it’s perfectly acceptable to use a firm handshake. Women have told me that their hands won’t break with a firm handshake!!)
  2. FACIAL EXPRESSION: The first impression someone will have of you from across the room will be your facial expression. Unfortunately, that’s often dependent on your own mood or mental state. Are you fatigued? Do you hate being there? Are you stressed? Are you desperate for new business? Are you bored? These will all show through like a billboard, so be aware of them. In fact, if you’re not up to a networking event, it might be better to cancel out rather than give a bad impression. I know I’ve been at events where I was feeling anti-social and made very few contacts. I’ve learned that if I identify the times when I am feeling less socially interactive, I’ll hang out at the bar rather than trying to force myself to mingle.
  3. CLOTHING: Admittedly this is very subjective, but I thought I’d share it. It never makes sense to me when people seriously over-dress or under-dress. For instance, if I see a professional (attorney, accountant, etc.) dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, it catches my attention. But by the same token, if I see an auto mechanic dressed in a suit jacket and tie, that also catches my attention. My advice is to slightly overdress; so, obviously an auto mechanic shouldn’t show up in greasy coveralls, but a tuxedo would be over the edge! Of course, it is always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed at an event (unless, of course, that’s your style or brand and you’re purposely making a statement. In that case, go for it and have fun!).
  4. EYE CONTACT: As with all things, moderation is in order. Obviously you don’t want to appear to be staring at someone or, worse, staring someone down. But you also don’t want to appear ‘shifty’ by constantly looking away and avoiding eye contact. Try to maintain a healthy eye contact with the person you’re speaking to – it speaks volumes in a very non-verbal way.
  5. PERSONAL SPACE: I don’t know about you, but I start getting really annoyed when someone gets so close, it feels like they are ‘breathing my air.’ A certain amount of ‘personal space’ is a good thing because, besides being an emotional turn-off, overstepping personal boundaries kills any prospect of doing business. So I have two tips: One for the violator and one for the ‘violatee’:
    • VIOLATEE: If you’re the one that finds yourself backing up toward the wall because the other person is so close that you can see their tonsils, my suggestion is to gradually turn sideways away from them and toward the crowd, so they are bumping into your shoulder. Then at the first possible moment say something like “I just remembered that I left my cell phone in the car…” and slip away before they can respond.
    • VIOLATOR: If you begin to notice that the person you are speaking to is consistently backing away from you, or perhaps turning their shoulder toward you, please take it as a hint that you’re getting too close. Besides being really annoying, you’re also killing any chance of doing business with this person – probably ever!

I’m sure you get the idea. We all have habits and body posture & actions that we’re probably not even aware of. Hopefully you’ll give it a thought at your next event to make certain you’re making the best possible appearance.