It’s common to worry about what other people will think of us. Every networking session I attend, a particular saying always runs through my mind: You only have one chance to make a first impression.
So let’s look more closely at a few of the specifics to help you make a good first impression.
The way you shake hands
There’s a lot of difference between a shake that’s like a limp lettuce leaf and a grip like a vice that makes you think every bone in your hand has been broken. If your shake is limp, the other person may think you don’t have confidence and you are timid. At the other end of the scale is the vice like grip. This may give the impression of over confidence, someone who wants to take control, is domineering, or perhaps the person is just over enthusiastic.
Aim for a firm grip and position your hand so it fits into the “web” between the thumb and index finger of the other person. The shake should last only a few seconds but leave a lasting impression: metaphorically, of course.
Have you noticed when two women shake hands, their shake is often remarkably different than when they shake hands with a man? If you fall into this category, change immediately. Your handshake should always be firm and confident, regardless of the gender of the other person.
Nametags are another problem. They should always be pinned or clipped on the right hand side of the person level with your armpit and about half way along your collarbone. Lift your elbow at 90 degrees to your body and follow the line across. This is where the nametag should be placed. When you shake hands your eyes will naturally be drawn to the tag.
If the tag is too low, especially on women, it may seem a man is glaring at the breast area, when in actual fact he is only looking at your nametag.
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The size of the writing on the tag is also very important. It should be easy to see from about a metre away. This is particularly important if you are holding a seminar or workshop and want to read the names of the attendees.
Even for networking it makes it easier if you can see the name without squinting or getting up closer than you would like.
This is of greater importance if you are arranging a function for older people. Don’t put them in the position of having to get out their reading glasses simply to read the nametags.
When is the right time to hand out a business card? Some people say wait until someone hands you their business card first. Others may give them out straight away. I usually say, “Hello, I’m Barb Clews” and as I say that I pass the card to them, after they have taken it, I shake their hand.
Your business card introduces your company, make sure it says exactly what you do and your contact details are easy to find. Don’t forget the back of the card; this is often left blank, yet this is a great place to advertise your services or products.
Printing of business cards is quite inexpensive and costs very little to have black printing on the back.
Getting these three simple things right will give you every chance of making a great first impression.