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VOL. 36 | NO. 45 | Friday, November 09, 2012

Careful, clients can size you up in a Snap

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

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You’d give your left leg for this account.

And everything looked favorable. When you called to set up the first meeting, you thought you had a good rapport with the prospect. You felt confident, but then he seemed immovable, and you didn’t know why. His arms were folded, his hands were hidden and his face was more grimace than smile.

Something told you that this was not going well.

So what could you have done to change this scenario? Start by reading Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language & Charisma by Patti Wood.

Within seconds of your walking in the door to meet with Mr. Prospect, his brain noted and calculated thousands of clues about you, subconsciously and otherwise. He quickly made a snap impression that colored everything he thought of you.

So was he right or wrong?

Nonverbal clues are up to 76 percent accurate, Wood says. Your facial expression when you saw Mr. Prospect told him a lot, as did your voice, posture, mood and organization. He immediately assessed your credibility (are you believable?), your likability (could he like you enough to do business with you?), your attractiveness (were you well-groomed?) and your power (were you confident or aggressive?). Whatever he decided, it could take up to six months of regular interaction for it to change.

So what can you do to help ensure meeting success?

Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma

by Patti Wood

c.2012, New World Library


280 pages

Lean gently toward Mr. Prospect and keep your feet pointed at him. Keep your “body windows” open and your eyes focused (but don’t stare), and subtly match his movements. Don’t look grumpy but don’t fake a smile, either. Gesture, palms out, but not effusively. Put away your cell phone; in fact, say you’re putting it away because the meeting is important to you. Keep your body language upbeat by remembering that he’s catching cues from you. Listen to what’s said verbally and show that you’re doing so.

End the meeting with a handshake.

And remember that your follow-up – or lack thereof – also leaves a big impression.

So you heard “no.” The person you wanted to get to know better obviously thought the worst of you. Now’s the time to read Snap and learn why.

From the moment someone first sees you to the goodbye handshake, the author leads you through everything you need to know to subtly and subconsciously influence a prospective client, boss, friend or date.

What’s interesting here is that Wood touches on how you perceive and are perceived, and she gives instructions on techno-subtleties. That’s something a lot of books like this don’t delve into.

Another thing that’s different about Snap is that there are projects you can do to ensure you’re body is conveying the message you want. Wood encourages practice, so you don’t seem stilted while you’re putting your new-found instructions to use.

Overall, even if you’ve read other things like this, I think Snap is worth a look-see. For anyone who wants to put their best foot forward, this body-language book can give you a leg up.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in more than 260 publications in the U.S. and Canada.