Get Your Act Together

Let’s face it: As a businessperson, you’ve got a lot going on. There are people to see, places to go and a whole lot of stuff to do. Can you do all this, and look and act presentable at all times, too?

Quite frankly, getting and keeping your act together can be a little overwhelming for even the sanest of people, so here are some tips:

1. Look the part before going to a networking event.  You’d be surprised how many people fall short in the fundamental area of appearance. If it’s a chamber of commerce networking breakfast, don’t dress casually–wear a good suit or outfit. You need to be well-rested and clearheaded when attending a morning networking session; make a conscious effort to get plenty of sleep the night before. If you’re not a morning person, hit the sack earlier than usual, so you don’t look like the walking dead. Regardless of how many cups of coffee you’ve had, people can tell if you’re not all there.

2. Make sure your body language sends the right message. When it comes to forming networking relationships, most of the important information–trustworthiness, friendliness, sincerity, openness–is communicated through nonverbal cues such as posture, facial expression and hand gestures. When engaging in conversation, look the other person directly in the eye and stay focused on what he’s saying. Lean a bit into the conversation rather than away from it; don’t stand rigid, with your arms crossed.

3. Be prepared. Make sure you know which pocket your business cards are in, and have plenty on hand. Nothing screams, “One of these days I’ve got to get organized!” louder than handing a potential referral partner someone else’s card.

4. Remember to smile. Studies have shown that if you smile when you talk, you seem more open and forthright. Obviously you don’t want to go overboard with this, and start grinning and shaking hands like a hyperactive clown; just show that you’re having a good time, and that will send the right message.

Perception is reality when it comes to meeting people for the first time. If people perceive you as not being right for them, they simply won’t be inclined to refer business to you, regardless of the work you can actually do. However, by keeping the above tips in mind, you’ll go a long way toward creating the right impression in the blink of an eye.

10 thoughts on “Get Your Act Together

  1. I still remember that first Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours I went to, well, just a few years ago. A little while into it, I met someone and handed them my card. The person thanked me, called me Chris and asked me how long I had been in the IT business. Needless to say my name is not Chris and I am not in the IT business. Ever since that first little fiasco, I have made sure that I have one empty pocket to put new cards into and one pocket with my “outgoing” cards in it. I only need to be embarrassed once please.

  2. Ivan these are such great tips and ones many people just plain forget or take for granted! So thank you for putting some reality into thinking about getting ready to network. The basics are always important. It’s amazing by how many people ‘forget’ these foundation principals. Wiithout these, it’s hard to take the next steps with anyone!

  3. Being involved in the business of referral marketing, I get out to a lot of networking events. Based on appearances, many of the business people in attendance at these functions don’t seem to realize that everything they do or say affects their brand’s perception in the marketplace. You don’t have to be drop-dead gorgeous to make a positive impression, but a little spit-and-polish certainly helps. Ivan’s recommendations above are important to bear in mind – from the clothing you wear to your demeanor and the words you choose, all will reflect on your brand, the perceived quality of what you offer, and you as a business person. So, get your act together!

  4. Smiling and being properly dressed are crucial. I’ve found there aren’t too many instances when you can be over dressed. I may use parts of this in a future article. Thanks Ivan!

  5. A wonderful smile will go a long way to changing not only the way people view you but also your own attitude. It seems more people could practice this in networking with others. A simple expression can say so much and help to build relationships. This goes along with having an attitude of gratitude mindset.

  6. Once again a great post, but your intention with people should be clear. Being outwardly prepared, being aware of the impact of body language and preparing yourself is great. However, you need to know how relationships are formed…making that initial contact is the most easiest part in networking, but taking that connection to mutually beneficial relationhsips are vital: Two tips- be helpful and secondly look for something which you have in common- relationships starts with what we have in common, thus the word “community” and “communion”. Do it sincerely as most people sense if you only speak to them to use them or to get their business.

    Karl: South Africa

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