Bobbie Hurley: My 3 Tips to Rocking First Impressions with Potential Clients
How to Control a Situation with Confidence
As I was sitting in my office one Friday afternoon, I saw a woman walk past my window. She was an attractive woman wearing a tank top, blue jeans and sandals. Her hair was in a girlish, messy ponytail. My thought as she walked by was, “I wonder if she is a spouse I haven’t met yet (we have had several new people join our team recently).”
She walked into our reception area and left just a few minutes later.
After she left, our receptionist brought me her card. Imagine my surprise when I saw she was the regional sales consultant for a local staffing company. My first thought was, “if she can’t dress appropriately for a corporate sales call, can she find the caliber of people we require for our team?”
Being a woman in business is hard – especially when you work in a male-dominated industry. I have been referred to as honey, baby, and sweetie.
My ability to perform work on a job site has been questioned, simply because I’m a woman. I must hold myself to a higher standard to convey trust and confidence to our clients.
I have learned that these 3 tips, while they may seem simple and a matter of common sense, help put you in control of any situation. First impressions in and out of the boardroom are so important when meeting clients, networking, and collaborating with team members.
1. Dress Professionally
How do you feel when you lay around on the couch all day in your pajamas, hair in a messy ponytail and watch Netflix? You feel lazy. You definitely don’t feel ready to take on the world.
What about when you are in your blue jeans and t-shirt on casual Fridays? Do you feel laid back and more relaxed than other days of the week? I do. So, what’s the difference? When you are not looking your best, you do not have the same level of confidence.
I know, I know, this seems like a tip that shouldn’t even need to be mentioned, but in my years as a business owner, I have come across many situations where people dress inappropriately for the situation.
Appearance is a powerful communication tool. If you do not care enough to spend time making yourself presentable, why would I trust you to take care of my business?
The first step to building your know, like, and trust factor begins the minute you walk in the door. By dressing professionally, you immediately begin to convey the message that you have the skills necessary to handle whatever the day throws your way. Dress for the job you want, the client you want, and the contract you want to win.
The amount of confidence that radiates from a well-dressed woman (or man) is immeasurable.
2. Maintain Eye Contact
Conversations are two-way streets and consist of two or more people speaking back and forth with each other. Think about the times you have been in conversation with someone and you saw their eyes dart to the clock, which makes them seem too busy to be talking to you. Or what do you think of the person who is sitting across from you and is more interested in their fingernails than looking at you?
People who will not meet your eye while you are speaking to them appear to be distracted, untrustworthy, and most importantly…weak. Weakness is not an option when you are trying to win that contract or win over that client. Look the person in the eye when you are working with them and they will see for themselves that you’ve got this…you have the strength and confidence necessary to get the job done.
3. Have a firm handshake
As a woman in business, I often get the barely there, limp fish handshakes from men and women alike. “Lawsy, don’t shake my hand too hard, I may have a fit of the vapors!” This is not the deep South in the 1800’s, for heaven’s sake, just shake my hand! I am a woman. I will not break if my hand is shaken properly.
The proper way to shake a hand is to extend your right hand with the palm facing sideways, the webbing between your thumb and first finger touching the webbing of the other person’s hand and apply firm (but not too firm) pressure. If you turn your palm facing the ground or you squeeze too hard it appears you are trying to dominate. Show confidence… not dominance.
To some, these tips may appear to be common sense, but you would be surprised how many women are afraid, for one reason or another, to follow them. You can do this! You can take control of the situation and win over that client. Remember, you never have another chance to make a first impression.
Bobbie Hurley-Guinn is an entrepreneur in the oil & gas industry (www.arpcovalves.com). Using her talents as a strategist, Bobbie leads her team in formulating and implementing the goals and vision necessary for a fast-growing company. She believes work/life harmony is important and strives to create a company culture that embraces this belief. To help other entrepreneurs learn how to achieve their goals, Bobbie became a Strategic Business Coach. You can find more information at www.bobbiehurley.com