As a budding entrepreneur, first impressions with potential clients, financiers or venture capitalists are of the utmost importance. The number of progressive-minded professionals seeking out entrepreneurial careers continues to grow at a pace much faster than the pool of available resources. By providing a presentable, confident and prepared innovative identity, new entrepreneurs can highly increase their chances of meeting the ultimate successful entrepreneurial cluster.
The landscape of entrepreneurialism continues to evolve. The characteristics that define the profession, or as some describe the culture, are much different than other professions. Effective entrepreneurs are tireless leaders who seek to take ideas and turn them into a viable business or social enterprise. Some prosperous entrepreneurs are well-known, while others remain behind the scenes while continuing to push their companies further. Even those that shy from the spotlight understand that the most successful entrepreneurs understand the value of networking.
The importance of networking to develop long term business opportunities cannot be overstated. Goeffrey Wright, author of Business Networking: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Business Networking (Making Contact, Building Credibility and Getting Work), explains that effective networking is one of the cornerstones for any business accomplishment, especially entrepreneurialism. An important part of networking, he explains, is how a person presents them self when initiating meetings with prospects.
Arthur Dobin with Psychology Today, speaks to the importance of a positive first impression in any phase of life, stressing the significance in building a career. While an initial constructive encounter advances a person's social cohesion, a bad first impression can create bias. Destroying a good impression can be done much easier than reversing the effects once an unlikable predisposition is formed. A bad first impression can be created by not understanding your audience. For example, showing up to an interview or social event to network for support for a research-related spark fund wearing shorts and a hat may not be taken well by a group of financial executives in Armani suites. If, on the other hand, the product was a new type of surf board and the meeting was with a group of surf shop owners in the middle of a beach, the apparel may be appropriate.
Another way to create a bad first impression is by not being aware of social strengths and weaknesses and, if necessary, practicing skills. By fine-tuning their impression abilities, young entrepreneurs will be able to create a network of industry and business experts and peers to assist them in moving their ideas into the marketplace.
In order to ensure a good first impression, entrepreneurial professionals should being with a professional appearance, exude confidence in their abilities, be prepared, keep abreast of and utilize appropriate technology and leave a positive, memorable lasting impression.
As previously mentioned, the appropriate appearance may depend on the audience. When in doubt, however, conservative and professional is always the best choice. Dressing professionally does not have to mean expensively, but it should entail presenting oneself in a tidy, clean package. Professional appearance only begins with clothing. Hair, makeup and accessories should also be considered, and, of course, everything should done to ensure timeliness to any scheduled meetings or appointments. An entrepreneur is the face of the company--make sure the face the public sees in one they want to support.
Making the decision to follow the entrepreneurial path takes a certain amount of confidence, and that confidence should be expressed when dealing with anyone, not just potential supporters. While self-assuredness may come naturally to some, it is not something every entrepreneur may find easy to exude. Confidence is a state of mind and, like other skills, it can be learned and honed. Overcoming a lack of sureness and self-doubt is possible.
In his book, Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Doubt, Dr. Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic discusses ways to eliminate self-doubt. Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor of business psychology at University College London, states that "dissatisfaction is the mother of change, and only change can drive improvement." Successful up-and-coming entrepreneurs who may find themselves dissatisfied with the status quo as it relates to their ability to be confident in interactions with others must turn that discontent into a tool for change.
Entrepreneurs who are successful at obtaining funding and other support have invested substantial time and energy in developing a sustainable, clear path forward. Additionally, they have developed a method to explain this path in laymen terms to any audience. When first meeting with potential investors, clients and peers, have a strategy in place and be prepared to succinctly explain the plan for development and operation, as well as expected outcomes and returns. Anticipate questions related to the business venture and be ready with an answer. I do not know is never an acceptable response to questions specific to an entrepreneur's strategic plan.
Technology is a driving force for many of the changes in the entrepreneurial landscape. Technology allows professionals to work faster, more efficiently, in more areas and, for better or worse, allows them to work constantly. Understand all of the technologies that can affect a specific business, and be willing to show potential clients and investors how that technology can be utilized to strengthen the business from the very first interaction. Have the appropriate information and, if possible, technology on hand to provide interactive examples of how social and other technologies will be utilized.
While a first encounter sets the tone for continued interaction, the last impression left can be as important. The ultimate goal for any entrepreneur is to ensure the growth of their idea or company. Do not be overly pushy when communicating with potential supporters, but do stand firm in the resolve that what you have to offer is something that should be supported. Never walk away down-trodden or upset. When exiting a meeting or an encounter, always walk away with the confidence that a better job could not have been done.