Of course, sometimes lateness can’t be helped – we all know how public transport systems can come grinding to a halt at the slightest prospect of precipitation or ‘leaves on the line’. However, the decent thing to do in situations like this is to call ahead. Letting people know where you are and when you are expected to arrive is just plain courteous.
On the other hand, if you’ve been given a time to arrive for a meeting or interview you shouldn’t arrive any more than 5 minutes early. This allows whoever you are meeting to make final preparations or adjustments and be totally ready for your arrival.
It’s always best to ensure your clothes are tidy and that you have clean hair and nails. You don’t often get a second chance at a first impression, and taking pride in your appearance is a great indicator that you’ll take pride in your business as well. There isn’t much that is more off-putting than BO or bad breath, so always keep a scent and pack of gum handy – but never go into a meeting chewing! At the other end of the spectrum, too much aftershave or perfume can be equally intrusive, so lay off too much spritzing!
Beauty may only be skin-deep, but as your personal presentation is the only thing that a client will initially judge you on, the significance of looking your smartest runs much deeper. If applicable, wear a tie and shine those shoes. Women should avoid piling on the make-up, and ensure your clothes are well fitted and smart. And remember, smiling is contagious – a positive attitude opens many more doors in business.
Manners make the man! It turns out our mums were right about this one. In these modern times, it can sometimes seem like everyone is too busy for a good old bit of courtesy. Simple things such as allowing your client to walk through a door first or standing when they enter the room can make all the difference to somebody’s opinion of you. Never doubt the impact of a good, firm handshake and eye contact – it implies genuineness and trustworthiness.
Part of making a great impression involves displaying your organisation skills and ability to time manage. An easy way of doing this is to sit down and clarify the agenda for the meeting at the beginning. State your aims, goals and enquire into what your client would like to achieve from the meeting as well. After all, it takes two to tango!
Of course prior to impressing the client with your focussed approach, research and preparation must be done. Who is it you’re meeting, and what is it going to be about? It’s a great idea to bring along e-mail correspondence and metrics to back up the points you plan on making. Also, bring any notes you have previously made detailing your ideas, and don’t forget to show your attentiveness by taking more throughout the meeting!
With technology moving so fast, it can be difficult to know what the correct etiquette is when it comes to using it all. A solid rule to go by is this: if it would be inappropriate to get out a crossword and start doing it, it’s inappropriate to fiddle with your phone or tablets. Always switch it off during meetings to remove the temptation of checking it.
Did you know that 65% of communication is non-verbal? It is always good to make an effort to sit up and look attentive and involved during meetings and other conversations – yawning is a no-no! By keeping your body language open and approachable you’ll be remembered for all the right reasons, so uncross those arms and make sure you’re fully facing your client. Talk through all your suggestions and provide reasons and evidence for them.
You should always strive to make your client feel as at ease and as confident as possible. When wrapping up the meeting, summarise the points raised and resolved to demonstrate your understanding and involvement. Clarify the next steps to be taken and how you intend to go about doing so.
If applicable, try to determine a follow-up date for your next meeting and get it in the diary. Always remember to write an e-mail, in which you can put your verbal summary into writing and thank your client for their time and interest.