Lately I’ve been setting up a lot of phone calls to discuss speaking at events for various professional groups. This means that my calendar is filling quickly as I’m meeting with this person via phone this Thursday at 1 PM or that decision-maker next Tuesday at 3 PM.
Although there are moments I get ridiculously busy—as any solopreneur or entrepreneur does when running their own business—I am always extremely conscious of the time. If we have a meeting set for Monday at 9 AM, then I will call you Monday at precisely 9 AM. Not 9:01 or 9:02…9:00 on the dot.
Why am I so over-the-top when it comes to the numbers on the clock? Easy. This is often the first time a potential client has contact with me and first impressions matter. They matter a lot.
For instance, if I’m supposed to call you at 9:00 AM tomorrow, yet your phone doesn’t ring until 9:10 or 9:20, what would you think of me? Probably nothing good, right? Any number of thoughts may be flooding your mind, from the fact that I’m disorganized and can’t be on-time (which doesn’t bode well if you’re considering hiring me as a speaker for your group) to feeling completely and utterly disrespected because I obviously value my own time more than I do yours.
Regardless of which thoughts pop into your head, the outcome isn’t good. You’re not going to want to hire me because I’ve created a bad first impression. My actions have left you with a sour taste in your mouth and you’ll likely move on to someone else, someone who makes you feel good instead of bad, to come speak at your upcoming event.
On the flip side, if I tell you I will call at 9:00 and it is 9:00 exactly when I call, you’ll likely have a different picture of me entirely. You’ll probably think, “Red’s responsible” or “Red’s trustworthy.” “Wow, that Red really respects my time.” You’ll envision a person who will be on time for your event, sticking to the schedule and enabling all of your attendees to have a wonderful time. All of these things are positive in nature, and they’re thoughts and feelings you get solely because I called you right when I said I would.
Inevitably, all of your actions (and even your inactions) when you first meet someone have the power to set the tone for your relationship far down the road. If the person you’re meeting for the first time feels that you’re reliable, respectful, and willing to do what you say when you say based on how you handle that first interaction, then you’ll have a completely different outcome than if the prospective client gets the impression that you really don’t care about or respect them or their company.
That’s why it’s important to make a solid, positive first impression. Make it a point to make phone calls or attend those initial meetings on time. Dress in a way that tells your potential client that you’re a professional who takes your business seriously. Act deliberately and in a way that says, “Hire me and it will be the best decision you ever made” and that is exactly what it will be. A decision they’ll gladly make, one which promotes you as well as them, making it a win/win situation all the way around.