When starting a business, people have to put themselves out there. It’s scary, right? Networking for some individuals could be as frightening as speaking in public or for some, who consider themselves introverts, it could be exhausting. But meeting people to generate business is vital. We’ve put ourselves out there as a starting business, and we’re here to tell you that it’s fine. Not only is it necessary, but it can be exhilarating. Here are a few tips on how to make these meetings smooth without sweaty palms or fighting that elephant sitting on your chest.
Walking into a meeting could be quite nerve-racking. All sorts of thoughts fly into your head: How do I look? Will I look as professional as the people I am meeting? Did I dress to impress? Will they think I am a fraud?
After reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, I realized that we need to be confident even if we don’t feel it: “Being confident… is necessary to achieving your potential.” Even if at first you need to act confident, believe me, you will exude confidence. A few important points:
1. Make eye contact
2. Shake their hand on the way in and on the way out
I once attended a workshop on how to negotiate. I was hopeful that I would learn something, and I did! You want to walk into that meeting room very prepared. You need to know what you want out of it, and what they want out of it. Anticipate their questions, so that you know what and how to answer. No one likes the filler words; the “ums” and the “hmms” will make you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you really don’t know the answer, be transparent, and say you will find out the answer and get back to them later about it. Have your notepad, business cards and flyers ready to pass out. Make it so that it is a win-win for both sides. Run through your meeting notes until you absolutely know that you are ready. Rehearsal is key, so that they know you are genuine and prepared.
I will be completely honest: being on time is hard for me. It’s something that I have to keep at the forefront of my mind all of the time (pun intended). But being late to a meeting could hinder a potential relationship or sway a first impression. I once heard from a former boss: “If you are on time, you’re late.” This means that if I am supposed to meet someone at 12:00pm, I need to be there at least five minutes ahead of time, then I know I am actually on time. This will help you with the next point… being relaxed.
This may be difficult for some of you because your nerves are wreaking havoc. But if you give yourself a few minutes ahead of time in the car to review your notes, make sure you remember all of your important points, and breathe, you could go into that meeting relaxed (no shaky voice or shaky hands).
Sample of your Business
Having a visual or sample of your business to show them can go a long way. If you’re florist perhaps hand them a small bouquet. If you’re caterer, bring in some of your delicious food. For us, Gimme A Dozen, we create wonderful little packages filled with our popular desserts. I know I can leave my meeting satisfied since I know that their taste buds will truly be satisfied.
We’re just starting out, but we are so thankful to share our experience thus far. We hope that some of these tips will help you. Please share any of your experiences with us. We’d love to hear from you!