You only have one chance to make a good first impression. We very quickly (in a matter of seconds!) access others in terms of trustworthiness, reliability and hostility. This thought can be very daunting when you’re meeting with possible partners or investors – the good news is that you have anywhere between 1 to 20 minutes to make the best first impression.
There are three areas where you should focus on – yourself, your business and your audience – to make a first and lasting good impression.
Put your best foot forward.
Investors are looking for talented individuals they can trust with their money, and they need to feel confident in your capabilities as well as your personality.
- Social Expressivity – These are the expressions that we, as humans, will notice in each other’s facial expression, so try to smile to create empathy and not convey hostility, and look in your interlocutor’s eyes as it helps to establish trust between you.
- Good posture – Bad posture might be construed as lack of confidence in yourself or the business, so make sure to straighten your spine and shoulders (in a relaxed way) and give them a firm handshake. You can also lean in towards your interlocutor to show that you are listening and your focus is on them.
- Look the part – If you want to impress upon your audience that you’re an expert at something you should look like you are. We know that looks don’t mean much as competencies go, but in this occasion your audience will have a short amount of time to decide how they feel about you, so your look will play a role in it. If you’re in a very meticulous business, you don’t want a shirt stain to give the impression that you are not detail-oriented.
- Clean communication – Practice your speech before you go and, if possible, test it with colleagues beforehand. Your discourse should be organised and clear, so your audience can follow it easily. Confusing sentences can make your investors go into a rabbit hole of questions that will stray you off the presentation of your ideas the way you wanted to convey them.
No one knows your business better than you.
Show that you know your product and business better than anyone else could.
- Know your numbers – You should know your business inside and out as well as the market and competition. If possible, know your numbers by heart, as this will show how involved and knowledgeable you are. If not possible, then include them in the presentation in a impactful and meaningful way.
- Show your reasoning – Don’t make bold statements without any backing up data. Always show your investors how did you came to that knowledge and help them be on the same page as you.
- Have answers – Try to anticipate what will be their questions and have answers ready that can be tailored for specific questions. Sometimes, your business or market may be too innovative and you might not have all the answers yet. In that case never lie – experienced investors will see right through it. It’s better to be honest – admit that you don’t have all the answers and show them what your company is doing to correct that.
- Show off your team – Let them know which problems did you encounter along the way and how did the team solve it, and show them that you are team with the right set of skills that works well together to solve problems.
Focus on your audience.
You want to impress your investors but the best way to do it is to make it all about them.
- Know them and their role – In the day of google and social media, there’s no excuse to not recognize your interlocutors upon first meeting. Do a quick research to get to know them and the projects they usually invest on. If they’re corporate, understand their role in the company. If possible, find some of their interests or hobbies that you can bring into conversation to create a good rapport.
- Build a conversation – Speak with them and not “at them”. If they direct the conversation towards a specific topic, make sure you show them that you listened and incorporate their concerns into your ideas.
- Express your gratitude – Be polite and thank them. After all, they took the time to listen to your ideas.
Easy, right? It seems like a lot of tiny details, and some of these things you might already do naturally or they might be something your mum once told you (they are very good at these, moms). The important thing is that you feel prepared and confident that you’re on the right track for a great first impression.
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