A New Year a new you, how investing in yourself with CPD this year can improve you and your communication skills. The British School of Etiquette, CPDSO member (no.21277) gives eight tips for making the best first impression offline.
The word 'netiquette' means a socially acceptable way of communicating over the Internet like 'email etiquette' which just shows what a world we live in today.
However, in this very competitive world, face-to-face etiquette is far more important than ever before and if done well, leaves a lasting impression on your clients, potential business partners and friends. Harvard University Research (2012) confirmed that during first impressions, two questions are asked: What are this person's intentions towards me? And how competent is this person? The research (2012) shows that these two trait dimensions account for 80 to 90 percent of an overall first impression, and that holds true across cultures.
Undertaking CPD that updates your interaction and communication skills can provide you with a wealth of benefits and will help you ensure that you know what to do and how to present yourself in a variety of business and social situations.
Philip Sykes, Principal of the British School of Etiquette who delivers accredited CPD to businesses in the financial, retail and hospitality sectors says: “First impressions are vital. How you make them are just as important as what you say. They are made in an instant and they form the other person’s opinion of you the entire time they are with you.
A first impression takes less than a few seconds to form; we only have one chance to make that first impression. Everything, from what we wear, to how we look, to what we say counts!”
So, what are the vital communication skills that business people need to make that first moment count? Here are Philip’s top business etiquette tips:
In an image-conscious world, making sure that you are clean cut and well dressed in a business meeting is vital to keep your client’s opinion positive. If you choose to meet in a less formal location, make sure you know what is on trend or wear something neutral. Understanding how to dress before you attend a meeting will help you to fit in and help you to be taken seriously.
Speech and voice control
When you are nervous, your voice may change pitch. The best way to control your voice is practice your speech with key words and not to memorise a page of text. This will help you speak more confidently about your business proposition.
Anticipation techniques and keeping an eye for detail
When meeting with a client try to go beyond their expectations by delivering something they would value but did not request. One way is to prepare a few extra case studies to show clients how your service can help them meet their business goals.
In terms of selling a CPD activity, case studies can help your clients put their learning into context. Another service could be to offer factsheets or continual free advice to clients who have finished your CPD activity.
Non-verbal communication, or body language presents a great challenge for many people. This includes ways of talking, eye movements, facial expressions, closeness and hand movements.
When properly used, body language can be a key to greater success. It can help you develop positive relationships, influence and motivate the people around you, improve productivity, bond with team members and present your ideas with impact.
Keeping good posture
People with good posture look more confident, are self- assured, remain calm under stress and are more present in the moment. Looking up rather than down will keep you aware of what is going on around you and give you the chance to react in time.
Conversations skills, the art of enquiring
Good sales people have the best answers, but the key is knowing how to ask the best and correct questions. The only way to get to know your customer is through good conversation and inquire without being intrusive.
Dealing with distinguished clients
Do some research on your customers and business partners before you meet them which will help you adapt your future communications. Beware that addressing your client incorrectly will show that you have ill-judged the situation and that you are unprepared.
Understanding multicultural etiquette when dealing with a diverse consumer base is a fundamental aspect of doing business in today's world. Make sure you keep a worldly point of view and act considerately and respectfully to cultural norms.
With all these etiquette tips in mind, consider hosting meetings face-to-face whenever possible. After all good practice makes perfect and face-to-face meetings is good practice.
The more effort you put into updating your professional communication skills will earn you greater success when meeting face-to-face with your clients and business partners.