I am consistently meeting with new people every day. It is fun to meet such a diverse group and learn more about their stories and what they are working on. Through all these interactions, I meet people that make a great first impression, as well as those that instantly make a poor first impression. Here are some of the more recent things I have observed that stand out that are totally within your control and independent of whether or not you have a good business idea.
Thing that help you positively stand out
Be genuine - You can tell when people are truly passionate about what they are working on. They share great stories and get into the “why” behind their story. These people are also great listeners and appear very interested in the discussion; they ask great questions vs. just reciting their pitch.
Do some research - You can quickly tell when someone has done some research on you or your company. They may know things like where you went to school, a common connection, an example of a portfolio company, or your investment thesis. All of these things take less than a minute to research and can make it that much easier to build a connection when used appropriately.
Have a message - While great conversation is always fun, it also helps to have a key message to leave behind. Think something that the other person can take away as a new learning, connection, or means to help. This also gives you a great lead-in for follow up.
Follow-up - Per above, when somebody follows-up immediately (i.e. within 24 hrs) it shows they were serious about the conversation and are invested in building a connection.
Things that hurt your credibility
Self focused - One thing that can be difficult is when the other person does not have the self awareness to realize they have been talking for 10 minutes straight about themselves without pause. There is nothing wrong with telling your story, but be aware enough to pause for the other person to ask questions, comment, or move on if needed. A conversation is two-way.
Have clearly not done research - Similar to above, it is clearly apparent when you take a meeting and the person has not even been to your website to know what you focus on. This also includes the plethora of sales emails/messages that are just spamming with no understanding or care of what you do.
Writing with no personalization/errors - If you are going to send a cold LinkedIn or email message, it is much more effective to include something personal or relevant (see research comments) that show you have spent some small amount of time versus just sending out responses. Even a simple, personal line or two attached to a LinkedIn message about how and why we should connect goes a long way. Also, don’t forget to double check spelling, especially of the person’s name to whom you are writing.
Being late - Things happen so I know circumstances will come up. But if they do, even a warning text/email is fine. But showing up 10 minutes late for a meeting with no explanation or apology is not helpful. We are all busy.
I’m sure there are many other tips & tricks, but these are a few recent ones I have seen that are totally within your control and outside whether or not your business is a good idea.