Lisa Robbin Young

How to make a positive first impression with potential business collaborators

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Whether your business is online or off, you're going to likely be interacting with people. Gasp! I know! PEOPLE!!

Bluntly, first impressions still matter.  They're often awkward, inaccurate, and problematic, but they still matter. As a business owner, your ability to create a favorable initial encounter can impact your company's growth and reputation. Honestly, the number of times I've been pitched a cold email with typos, inaccuracies, and other language issues makes me wonder if that person really wants to do business with me. Recently, I had another business owner call me NICK in his cold email. My name is nowhere CLOSE to Nick! You really have to TRY to misspell Lisa to get Nick... the letters aren't even close together on the keyboard!

Positive first impressions are all about improving your visibility - a good first impression means a positive memory in your collaborator's mind when they walk away. As relationships develop, a person steps back into a conversation from whatever "frame" they left it. So if your first interaction is positive, they come to the second interaction with a positive impression and feeling... setting you up to have another positive interaction and perpetuate that cycle of awesomeness.

If you start off on the wrong foot, it's so challenging to get back on the right one.

Many business owners don't realize how the "little things" can make a big impression. Companies like EverLine Coatings and Services stripe parking lots (among other things), which may not seem like a big deal - until you drive up to a store front that hasn't had the lot painted in decades and you're not even sure if the joint is still open anymore! Having fresh, crisp lines on your lot gives it that "new car smell" so to speak. That clean, fresh look can make a BIG first impression.

Now, there’s a lot more that goes into first impressions than just aesthetics - way more. Here are a few additional ideas to help you make a great first impression with your business.

Start Dressing the Part

Yeah, I know it's "aesthetics", but it counts! Your attire speaks volumes about your brand. Dressing appropriately for your industry and the occasion is essential. This doesn’t immediately mean that you have to wear a suit if suits just aren’t your thing. If your business is in the tech industry, it doesn’t immediately mean that you need to wear jeans and a muted jacket. Steve Jobs gave up suits in favor of jeans and a mock turtleneck. That was his wardrobe, his "brand identity" in clothing form.

What it means is to dress as if you (and your business) easily fit into the industry. If you’re into business casual, then just wear that. If there are meetings where people are in suits, then dress for that occasion. 

It helps to dress the part, but you don’t always need to dress the part every day, either. If you work from home and you don’t do video calls, why dress like you’re heading for the office? It’s just something to consider when it comes to first impressions.

Punctuality is Key

Have any meetings? Do you have a storefront that opens at a certain time? Does your website promise to deliver something within a certain period of time? All of these things definitely need to be taken into consideration. Being punctual is more than showing up late to a meeting. 

Being punctual shows that you respect the other person's time and that you’re reliable. Plus, it shows how committed you are to the engagement. So, always keep this in mind because being late and keeping someone waiting can really leave a sour taste in someone’s mouth (even if it’s justified why you’re late). 

Strive for Improvement

So, while this sounds vague, it means improvement in all forms of your business, with yourself included. You should be striving to regulary improve your website, your storefront, your products, how you market on social media, your email marketing, how you pitch, etc. Improvement never ends, so you need to be mindful of your capacity for change and upgrades at any given point in time.

Like I said earlier, first impressions can be wonky when you're new and just learning. But with time, you'll improve your ability to show up as the best version of you and your brand in every company interaction. It makes a big difference - especially when big money is on the line.

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