Monday, 30 April 2012

First impressions aren’t really that important. Are they?

You probably noticed that I launched my new novel Working from Home: Mixing business with pleasure? recently. One of the stressful situations I put my characters through in the name of literature was walking into a roomful of strangers – otherwise known as business networking breakfasts.

Usually you know a few people at any meeting you attend but being new in this I knew one attendee when I sauntered through the door of my local 4networking business breakfast. Well, perhaps sauntering is not quite the correct word to use.

The trouble started before the event when I realised that none of my ironed shirts had a pocket. This lack of pocket means your name badge swings askew and people have to twist their necks to read your name.

I decided to risk it and wear a shirt and suit that between them offered no name badge clipping opportunities. Why? Because I feel good in it and I think self-confidence is more important in a first impression than looking immaculate. After all, my second impression is a long way from perfection. I try to be charming, sometimes I am funny, but I often get tongue-tied and forget important names.

The weather was atrocious and the rain had blasted most of the pink blossom from a cherry tree onto my car. So I set off to the meeting driving a pink and silver car that left a confetti trail of pink petals behind me. That first impression is starting to look a bit comedic.

I found the venue, but had a long sprint through the torrential rain to the entrance where I shook myself off in the foyer. I took a deep breath and walked into the meeting where lots of dry, unruffled people were chatting over coffee. The first thing that anyone said to me is “Did you walk all the way here?”

The good news is that I was welcomed very warmly to a fun group of people who livened up the morning with lots of banter and business. I was surprised to find quite a few of them had already bought my book and it had been discussed as ‘business networking with sex’. I will use this in my marketing in future as it obviously works.

If you have never experienced walking into a room of strangers and leaving a roomful of new friends then I suggest you give business networking a shot.

I know you’re wondering where I put my name tag but in the end it wasn’t relevant. The members had name tags but I didn’t need one so my choice for feel-good clothes worked. Sort of. After about 15 minutes of me trying to be erudite and charming someone whispered to me that my jacket lapel was sticking up. It must have happened when I shook the water off it in the hotel foyer.

Considering that I made a few people laugh and I forgot the name of a few things, including my son’s school, I’d say that my first impression was spot on.

There’s lots of banter, laughs and even flirting in business networking meetings in my novel Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure? available at the bargain price of £1.98/$3.10 on all e-readers (prices vary slightly), just choose a link on the top right of this blog. There’s also a lot of insider knowledge that might just help you start a business or sell your services.

You can find out more about 4Networking business networking here. (not an affiliate link, just for information).

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