After an interview, the last thing you want someone to say about you is: “Sorry, which one was that again?” Nor do you want a potential client you meet at a networking event to pull out your business card and say: “This was the arrogant one.”
The trick is to be remembered, but to make sure you’re remembered for all the right reasons.
Behaviours to avoid
Whether you’re overcompensating for natural shyness, or have lost control thanks to the networking event’s free bar, you must avoid the following:
- Always being the loudest person in the room
- Constantly turning the conversation back to yourself and ‘one-upping’ another person’s stories
- Intimidating people or talking people down
- Being so quiet people have to constantly ask you to repeat yourself
- Embarrassing people or making them feel uncomfortable
- Being so negative or critical that you suck the energy out of the room (I call these people ‘mood hoovers’!)
- Walking in with ‘jazz hands’ and shouting: “I’m here!”
How to make a positive impact
As Maya Angelou says, people forget the specifics of what you said or what you did: what they remember is how you made them feel. So to make a memorable and positive impact on people, try to do the following:
- Meet and greet with eye-contact. When you shake hands with someone it is often the first (and maybe the only) time that you will have physical contact with them. Use the moment as an opportunity to show that you’re genuinely interested in them and don’t simply treat it as a formality to be got out of the way. The whole time you are shaking hands, you should also be looking directly into the eyes of the person attached to the hand (and not the next person you are about to greet after them!).
- Give people your undivided attention. Remember to keep your focus on the person you are talking to. Looking over their shoulder or around the room makes you look bored, rude and unable to concentrate. If you are bored then give the person your undivided attention while they are talking and then politely excuse yourself.
- Show your interest by leaning forwards. You don’t need to crowd someone’s personal space but by shifting your weight forwards, your body language will indicate a genuine interest in them and will help to build rapport. People are always interested in someone who is interested in them.
- Bring positivity to the meeting. Be careful about making negative comments (even if it is just a witty one-liner about the British weather or the catering at the event you are attending). Critical or cynical people are less likely to be perceived as problem solvers and nobody likes a ‘mood hoover’: would you want to do business with someone who had made you feel downbeat after just five minutes of conversation?
- Ask yourself: ‘What value am I adding’? The more value you add to an encounter the more positive the impact you make. So look to compliment someone, teach them something new, introduce them to someone, or do them a favour. Whatever it is, keep thinking: ‘What benefit does this person get from knowing me?’
What are your experiences in meeting, networking, or interview situations? Has someone made a really positive (or really negative) impact on you during your first conversation with them? Leave your stories below in the comment section – and if you have any tips for making a positive impact, please share those too!