I attended a lunch presentation today at the Ann Arbor IT Zone titled “Enhancing Your Professional Image.” The presenter was Denise Anne Taylor of Competitive Advantage, Inc. and she did a great job talking about “relationship marketing” — which is all about how you present yourself and how you interact with people in the business world. Here are a few things I made note of:

  • Think about your “Top of the Mind Awareness.” What do people think of when they see you? What comes to mind when your name is spoken? What do you want them to think of? Think about about your personal brand.
  • Keep the Rule of the Sevens in mind. When you meet someone:
    • In the 1st seven seconds you need to create a good first impression
    • In the 2nd seven seconds you need to create interest (for example, tell them what you can do for them).
    • In the 3rd seven seconds you can begin to tell your story.

    If you still have the other person’s attention after those first 21 seconds, you will have a successful interaction.

  • Your behavior is never an accident. In other words, you have the ability to control it, and people notice what you do — so pay attention and adjust your behavior on the fly as needed.
  • When you attend a networking event where your goal is to meet and greet people, follow these tips:
    • Place your name tag on your right side so people can see it when they shake hands with you. About half of us get this wrong 😉
    • Try to maintain eye contact no less than 40% and no more than 60% of the time. Too little eye contact will label you as shifty and not to be trusted. Too much will make people think you are overly aggressive. If someone starts to back away from you, you are probably being too aggressive and making them uncomfortable.
    • When you make eye contact with someone in a business setting, focus on the triangle of space defined by their two eyes and a point in the center of their forehead. That says “I am engaged, I am authoritative.” Avoid looking at their mouth (that is good for social interactions where you do not wish to have command of the situation). And definitely avoid letting your gaze wander up and down their body — that is an intimate gaze that says “I am checking you out and I am not really engaged with what you are saying.”
    • There are a lot of nuances to a good handshake. Denise recommends a “web to web” handshake (not at the tips of the finger, avoid a bone-crushing experience). Extending your hand first puts you in a position of authority (most of the time you want that). And make sure your hands are free to shake hands with people (put down that drink and save it for later).
    • Honesty is often the best policy. If you feel trapped in a conversation and you need to go meet other people, tell the person you are talking to that you have a limited amount of time and that you need to circulate (and offer to meet them for lunch or another time to talk more).
  • A good formula for success in your business interactions is to have Self-Confidence which allows for Rapport building, which leads to Trust (the cornerstone of any good relationship), and mutual Respect.

There were a lot of people at the event. Maybe they came to enjoy the catered lunch from Zingerman’s Deli. But they most likely went back to work having enjoyed a full serving of personal development ideas.