December 17, 2009

Five ways to make a great second impression

 Tim phil inquirer

Recently, I was booked for an encore presentation at a conference.  The first engagement went really well, and all of us felt a resonant spark.  I was invited back the next month, and excited to have the opportunity. 

You would think it's a slam dunk, which is a problem in our culture.  We put too much weight into the first impression.  We believe that's all that counts.  We get lazy, thinking that the encore performance is a freebie that will obviously turn out well, "because we dig each other, right?" 

Wrong.  In sales, business development and speaking situations, I've found the 2nd meeting to be the hardest of all.  Not enough meetings to go strategic or get biz-married -- but enough meetings to wipe out the 1st impression.  Yet, sadly, we don't train people for this.  Fortunately, I've been aware of the 2nd Meeting Syndrome since my days at Yahoo, and possess a few rules for rocking it the second time around: 

1. Remember the details of the first meeting.  This is also the golden rule of any CRM solution - people are irritated when they have to repeat themselves.  If you don't give them personal hard drive space, why should they do business with you? 

2. Try not to repeat yourself too much.  Many first meetings rock because you had good beats (a performance term for the little 'bits' you do that express your point of view).  Your homespun story may make people laugh till the cry the first time, but the second time you tell them, they will check their email on their Blackberry.  Prior to the 2nd meeting, recollect the details of the first.  I always have a bullet point outline of my meeting/talk, including 'bits' and even what I wore that day!  Bring some novelty to the second time around.  Review the tapes or recordings, if possible. NOTE: Be willing to take requests if you are asked to repeat bits for new ears/eyes. 

3. Over prepare.  As much as you boned up for the first meeting, give as much or more effort for the second.  Conditions change, audiences change and contemporary events change your value proposition/premise.  Focus on these changes and let the dialogue from meeting one give you fodder for a much deeper dive into the details in preparation for meeting two.

4. Be grateful for the chance to meet again.  If it's a meeting for business, be grateful for the airtime. For your best potential partners, time is worth more than money.  Same goes for paid engagements (from consulting to services). It's a tough market out there, and you should give some extra-heart to people that give you double repeat business.  Don't take them for granted or think you are some kind of biz-God that they are giving homage to.  Be very humble about the encore and show some real gratitude.  Meditate for a minute on it when you first wake up the day of the second meeting. 

5. Take it to the next level.  Don't just think of this as another meeting.  Life is short, so do your best to convert this warm and fuzzy transaction into a powerful relationship.  Explore win/win/win scenarios, stretch the boundaries and clearly outline next steps.  Always take meetings or engagements to the next level.  Relationship business beats out high volume 1 or 2 and done transactional work.  It's easier, more likely to turn bizmates into friends and usually delivers high value results. 



Hi Tim,

That's very interesting. I didn't know the 2nd meeting was the hardest!

One idea I had is to remind them about what was great about the first meeting.

Another idea is to specific about what we prepare. What is important to them? What are they looking for? What did they like about us? What are their goals? When did they get excited during the first meeting? What are their values? Who do we really want to connect with?

Making notes about this stuff after the first meeting is super important, I think. Reviewing these notes just before the 2nd meeting will tell us what exactly what to focus on.

Just some random thoughts.

Yay lovecats!


Interesting facts. It's a good advice to all professionals outhere. These factors could lead you to a different level.

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