Make a good first impression during networking

We’ve heard it a thousand times: “It’s all about who you know.” Networking events are a great place to meet vendors to support your business, potential clients or someone that can introduce you to a potential client.

Here are some tips to help ensure you maximize your networking opportunities:

What should I wear?

Most events will address the dress code in their invitation. If the event is business casual, wear something that has your company logo on it. Networking is the art of branding yourself.

Yes, you want them to remember you at the next event, but it’s more important that they remember the name of your business and what you do. If they can’t remember your name but remember the name of your company then you’ve accomplished your mission.

What’s that smell?

Networking events typically occur right after work. Bad breath or body odor after a long day at the office is certainly not the first impression you want to send to anybody.

If you frequently find yourself attending an event that occurs right after work then my advice is to keep a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant in the office. This way, you’re always ready to make the best impression.

Business card etiquette

Business cards also make first impressions. A great business card is sturdy, easy to read and informative. Your name, company name and phone number should jump out at the reader. Your card should be the reminder of why someone would want to contact you.

Ensure that your business cards are easily accessible prior to entering the networking event. If you hand someone a business card that is wrinkled and dirty because it was at the bottom of your purse or wallet then the first impression you made is, “I’m not prepared because I didn’t plan.” A very professional business card holder can be purchased at most office supply stores and will ensure the card you hand out is one you can be proud of.

Always remember that you will also be receiving business cards at networking events. Keep the business cards you receive in a different pocket than where you keep yours. The last thing you want to do is to hand out someone else’s business card or to be sifting through the pile of cards you received throughout the event trying to find your own. Again, sending the message of disorganization.

If someone hands you a card, be respectful and treat it like a gift. If you don’t show a sincere interest in who they are, what they do and how you can help them, they won’t show a sincere interest in you.

In my estimation, 60 percent of your business will come from someone you know — networking. Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression.

Following these tips will help to improve your odds of that next person you meet turning into a nice big sale. Happy networking!


Dennis W. Lejeck is the president and founder of Black Knight Security.