Written By: Lydia Ramsey
Your goal within the first few minutes of meeting and greeting other people is to make them feel comfortable and to put them ease so they will want to do business with you.
A day in the life of every businessperson is made up of a series of meetings and greetings. Whether you are making the initial contact with a client or a colleague, you want to get off on the right foot.
Doing so will make the first encounter and subsequent ones go smoothly and easily. Getting off on the wrong foot can make for a difficult recovery. Save your energy for later and use these simple strategies for a successful start.
This allows you to engage the person on an equal level – eye to eye. By remaining seated, you send a message that you don’t think the other person is important enough to warrant the effort it takes to stand. If you find yourself in a position where you can’t stand up (such as being trapped behind a potted plant) offer an apology and an explanation. You might say something like, “Please excuse me for not getting up. I can’t seem to get around the foliage.”
Your facial expression says more than your words. Look as if you are pleased to meet the other person regardless of what is on your mind. Put a smile on your face for the person standing before you. A sincere smile sends the message that you are safe and trustworthy.
Looking at the people you meet says you are focused and interested in them. If you are staring off somewhere else, you may appear to be looking for someone more to your liking to come along. When you fail to make consistent, appropriate eye-contact, people find it hard to trust you.
As soon as you approach people you don’t know or are approached by them, say who you are. Don’t stand around as if someone else is in charge of introductions. Getting off to a great start when meeting and greeting people sometimes means that you must take the initiative.
It is not always enough to say, “Hello, I’m Mary Jones.” Give more information. “Hello, I’m Mary Jones. I work for XYZ Corporation.” Be confident about who you are and what you do. This often sparks interest and opens up a fruitful conversation.
Extend your hand as you give your greeting. The person who puts a hand out first comes across as confident and at ease. Make sure that this physical part of your meeting and greeting is professional. Don’t offer bone-crushing grips or wimpy limp-wristed shakes. If you are confused about men and women shaking hands, don’t be. There once was a time when women didn’t shake hands with men. We are past that. Everyone in business shakes hands with everyone else.
When meeting and greeting – especially in business – you always introduce less important people to more important people. The way to do this is to say the name of the more important person first, followed by the words “I’d like to introduce…” and then give the other person’s name. Be sure to add something about each person so they will know why they are being introduced and will have some information with which to start a conversation.
The client or the business prospect is more important than your boss. This is where you want to focus your attention. When you make other people feel important they’ll want to do business with you. (Just hope your boss agrees.)
When meeting and greeting, especially when things are moving fast or there are multiple people in the conversation, it is easy to forget names. It is all too common to be thinking about what you are going to say next and not focus on the other person. If you concentrate and repeat the name as soon as you hear it, you stand a better chance of remembering it later. Remembering and using names is one of the fastest paths to building new relationships and getting off to a great start.
Not everyone wants to be addressed informally on the initial encounter. It is better to err on the side of formality than to offend the other person right off the bat. Respect matters. When you are respectful, you are memorable.
Your goal within the first few minutes of meeting and greeting other people is to make them feel comfortable and to put them ease so they will want to do business with you. When you are confident of the rules for those critical initial encounters, you will have a solid start for long- term profitable relationships.
Learn more about how to make great first impressions and engage buyers in our Sales EQ | Complex Selling Skills Master Class.
Lydia Ramsey helps people promote themselves and grow their business by showing them how…
Join more than 360,000 professionals who get our weekly newsletter.
Self-paced courses from the
world's top sales experts
Live, interactive instruction in small
groups with master trainers
One-to-one personalized coaching
focused on your unique situation