How to make a good first impression

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Talking to business contacts face-to-face is an integral part of exhibitions and tradeshows. It is crucial to building trust and developing strong relationships.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, mastering the art of networking is a vital skill for making the most of the opportunities available to you at events.

In many interpersonal encounters the first few moments are extremely important. First impressions have a significant impact on the success of further communication. So here are some tips to help you have the highest chance of success at your next exhibition.

Present yourself appropriately

Physical appearance matters. The key to a good first impression is to present yourself appropriately for the occasion. If you are representing your business at a trade show or exhibition, it goes without saying you will want to look the part. Putting on a suit or smart dress is not going to win you hordes of new customers, but failing to do so could see you miss out on them. If you are attending a conference dinner it could be a black-tie affair or a much more casual event. If you are not sure, use the venue or exhibition’s website or the time of day to get a better idea of what to wear.

Be open and confident

Convey the appropriate level of confidence and self-assurance for the situation through your body language. Stand tall, make eye contact, smile and greet people with a firm handshake. All of this will help you communicate confidence and make both you and the person you are talking to feel comfortable.

Be positive

Your attitude shows through in everything you do. Present a positive attitude, even in the face of criticism or in the case of nervousness. Aim to maintain an upbeat manner and a smile.

Be courteous and attentive

Having good manners, being polite, attentive and courteous naturally helps to make a good first impression. Do not get distracted, the other person deserves 100% of your attention.

Build rapport

Sometimes rapport happens naturally if you “hit it off” with someone. But rapport can also be built and developed by finding common ground, developing a bond and being empathetic.

Almost all rapport-building happens without words through nonverbal communication. We create and maintain rapport subconsciously through matching nonverbal signals, including facial expressions, body positioning, body movements, tone of voice and eye contact with the other person.

Here are some things you can do to help create rapport with someone:

  • Use the same words they use, mirroring their language will enhance your rapport instantly
  • Mirror their body language as well, if appropriate
  • Listen for shared experiences or circumstances
  • Introduce an element of humour. Laughing together creates harmony
  • Maintain eye contact for approximately 60% of the time, too much will make the other person feel uncomfortable
  • Relax and lean towards them slightly to indicate that you are listening
  • Demonstrate that you can see their point of view/understand how they feel
  • Build on the other person’s ideas
  • When listening, nod and make sounds of encouragement
  • When in agreement with the other person openly say so and why
  • If you have to disagree with them, give them the reason first and then say you disagree
  • Summarise, reflect and clarify what they said

By following the advice in this article you will have a better understanding of how to make a good first impression and know how to build rapport with someone at your next exhibition or event.

Global Displays Ltd are exhibition experts, having been at the forefront of exhibition stand design and construction for over thirty years. We develop enduring relationships with our clients by providing them with excellent customer service and creating value for them every time.

To find out how we can help you, give us a call on +44 (0)1905 797978 or email [email protected]