Business Networking – a second chance to make a first impression?
Firstly and importantly, because I can be a pedant too, I realise that my title apparently makes no sense. Of course you can only make one first impression because anything after that, by definition, isn’t the first. I get that.
But what I also realise is that loads of people in sales and in business get tied up with this idea that you only ever get one chance. And because of that, they never ever try for a second chance to make an impression, if the first try didn’t go according to plan.
People have been told so often, in every branch of sales and business training that “you only get one chance to make a first impression” that it discourages them from one of the most important lessons, in my opinion, in business. You can ALWAYS get up, dust yourself off, and try again.
And in business networking you ALWAYS get a second chance to make a first impression.
Think about this. If I was trying to sell to you in real life and cold called you, how long would I get to make an impression (presuming you took the call in the first place)? And if that first call didn’t go well, if I didn’t convince you to do business or listen to me further, how far would I get if I called a second time? At the very least I would have to make a massive effort to convince you to listen again.
But at a business networking event, if my 40 second introduction didn’t work this time, I can simply go home and work on another. If nobody wants to find out more about what I do, that’s cool, it is actually really useful information that my first approach didn’t work. So I can come back next week and try a second approach, and then a third and then a fourth.
Not only does business networking put you directly in front of the people who might do business with you, or refer business to you, it also gives you a massive opportunity to constantly refine and improve your approach.
In Chapter 18 of Business Networking for Dummies I talk about how you should treat networking as a continuous journey. Every setback is actually a valuable lesson. Every meeting has value, whether or not you secure a new client.
One of the things I truly love about networking is that it’s the only sales environment I’ve ever been in where you get a second chance, and unlimited chances, to make a first impression.