Seal that Deal!

Posted on November 12, 2010


Published in SME Advisor – July 10

The way you present yourself is without doubt as important as your words.  You have just a few seconds to make that initial impression and it’s almost impossible ever to change it, but with a little thought and preparation, you can make some smart choices to help you gain the extra edge.

Meeting & Greeting

Remember that your goal when first meeting someone is to put them at ease and make them want to do business with you.

  • Always stand up so you can look someone in the eye and show you value them
  • Smile; facial expressions convey more than words
  • Always establish eye contact to show you are focussed
  • Offer a firm handshake
  • Pay attention to names; if you repeat the name as soon as you have heard it, you will be more likely to remember it!

Wining & Dining

Table manners say a lot about a persons’ image so it’s crucial to get it right, especially in Dubai where many a deal is done and contract signed over a meal.

  • The golden rule when faced with a mass of cutlery is to work from the outside in
  • Don’t order messy foods that are difficult to eat
  • Hail your waiter/waitress by making eye contact and discreetly waiving your hand
  • Before sitting at the table, wait for your host to sit first or for instructions to sit
  • At a cocktail, hold your drink in your left hand to keep your right hand dry and available for handshakes
  • No matter how much to want to speak, never talk with your mouth full!

Dressing to Impress; for female executives

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so the ‘picture’ you first present says much about you.  Ask yourself whether your appearance is saying the right things to help create the right first impression.

  • Respect the local culture and never wear anything too revealing
  • Avoid wearing strong perfumes or smelling of smoke
  • Maintain professional looking hands and nails with regular manicures
  • Keep your make-up and hairstyle simple and appropriate
  • Keep your accessories conservative and business-like

Dressing for Success; for male executives

Appropriate grooming not only helps you make a good first impression but also helps you feel ‘the part’ which will help you feel calm and confident.

  • Err on the side of conservatism and better to be slight overdressed than too casual
  • Ensure you wear a well-fitted suit.  We are spoilt for choice in Dubai with a great many tailors so take advantage.
  • Ties should command respect.  Take the time to master the art of tying the perfect knot and never wear novelty ties!
  • Keep hair on your head short and any facial hair neat and trimmed
  • When choosing a bag, nothing beats leather, be it a formal briefcase, a trendy messenger bag or a handheld portfolio
  • Avoid jewellery and opt for a bit of bling with some stylish cufflinks

How to cultivate a powerful image:

  • Be on time; try to arrive for engagements a few minutes early and allow flexibility for traffic delays
  • Be yourself; a calm and confident demeanor will help others feel at ease
  • Small talk goes a long way; learn about a person before meeting them so you can easily open conversation and keep it flowing
  • Be positive; your attitude shows through in everything you do
  • Be courteous, attentive and polite at all times

Many of these tips are simple and obvious yet are all too often overlooked.  You have one chance to make an impression so make it count!

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