1. Relax and Smile

• So simple but so true. People warm to you if you smile. Don’t force it – just think of a funny incident or something that has made you laugh in the past. Recreate that moment in your mind but DON’T  think about your face muscles.  That’s going to have the same effect as saying “cheese”. Nobody wants that look!

2. Ask Quality Questions

• If somebody says that they’ve had a busy week. Ask why? If a person tells you that they are just back from holiday – you MUST ask where them where they have been. Ok, it’s obvious- but you are missing a trick if you don’t engage in chit-chat before moving to a business agenda. There’s often no need to rush into a business discussion. In the “first encounter”, you are building foundations. You could spend up to 80% of your time getting to know people in small talk and just 20% on business.  It depends on the individual.  Just don’t forget to exchange business cards!

3. Be local and topical

• If you are in a different town or county, you must read the local newparers or tune in to the local radio or TV station. Aim to pick up a couple of local “interest” stories and throw these into the mix, early in your conversation with people from that area.

4. Use Google Alerts

• Click this link to find out how to keep tabs on a customer or prospect by using this free service. http://www.google.com/alerts?hl=en&gl=us  this is a quick way to demonstrate that you have your finger on the pulse.

5. Learn about people in advance

• If you know who you’ll you be meeting at an event or meeting. You should check to see if they are on Linkedin. This will give you an invaluable insight to their background and experience.

6. Use Open Questions

• Don’t ask “Yes” or “No” response questions. You should roam free. “What did you think of the morning presentations? ”  How are you finding the current economic climate?” You want to ask an open question and then switch to listen mode. Ask follow-up questions to keep the ball rolling and learn more about the person in front of you.

7. Be an active listener

  • Let people finish their sentences. If you ask a question, sit on your hands until they have finished with their response. Restrict your contribution to affirmation expressions such as “I see”, “I get it”, “That’s interesting”, “ok”. When they have finished, repeat back their key points to check that you have understood correctly and demonstrate that you have been listening. If appropriate, you can build upon their comments by offering a story that confirms the point that they have just made. Or, if you don’t have an example – state that they have made a new point or have raised something that you’ve not considered before. Then, say thanks !

8. Eye Contact

• When shaking hands, you must hold their gaze. Be careful not to stare for too long – 3 or 4 second should be enough for the initial contact. Be careful not to appear distracting. If you are meeting during the coffee break at a conference, keep your gaze on or in the zone of your new contract. Don’t allow yourself to flit about the room. This gives the impression that you are only talking to this person until somebody more interesting appears !

9. Follow-up !

• Send your new contact an e-mail within 48 hours of meeting. Or, if they are on LinkedIn, send them a request to connect to your network. This is a quick and effective way of keeping tabs of new business acquaintances. It’s far better than stuffing their business cared in your wallet –only to be transferred to a drawer – never to see daylight again.

10. Match their pace

• There’s a wealth of literature and a whole science advising how you should match verbal and body language to fit the style of the person you are talking to.  Just apply common sense, if somebody talks very quickly – you should also speed up in order to keep pace. If they are slower in their delivery, you should go some way to slowing down your own natural style.