This is the first blog in a series by Martin Bragg, a highly experienced business development expert with 20 years experience in professional service firms. Martin has worked in business development for major international law firms including the magic circle and for accountancy practices in the big four and beyond. 

In this first blog post, Martin explores the age old problem of how to make a good impression. 

I used to work with a partner who advocated only navy blue suits for pitch meetings. This to me is a little extreme. But first impressions do last and when you walk through the door to meet a new contact you have only one chance to make a good one. What you are wearing will be a large part of that. There are rules.

[quote]If there is a smart ladder it is better to be one rung too high than one rung too low[/quote]

We have all worked with people for whom the sum of the sartorial parts is less than the whole. Dark suit, white shirt, coloured tie and black shoes, what can go wrong? A lot it would seem!  Add into the mix dress down days and ‘creative’ clients and all of a sudden we are walking a fashion tightrope.

If there is someone in your office who routinely turns up for client meetings not looking professional the issue should be addressed by someone senior. (This may need to be you, if you are supervising or managing this person) You are doing all you can to win work and those efforts are being put at risk.

  • If you are meeting a ‘creative’ client and are keen to dress appropriately for their organisation ask them what appropriate is. Otherwise you are only guessing. The receptionist will be able to advise you discretely.
  • If you are not comfortable asking then there is no shame in dressing like a lawyer or accountant, if that is what you are. If Google wanted a surfer to manage their M&A programme they would hire one.

learn from your mistakes copy 200pxWearing the wrong clothing maybe a political mistake – you may like to read ‘what are political mistakes? And, can they wreck my career?

Action points:

For men:

  • Always keep a handful of ties in the office so if you need one at short notice you can lay your hands on it straight away.
  • Check you haven’t got lunch on your shirt and that your tie is straight. It is amazing how many people do, and don’t!

For women:

  • Always have a spare pair of tights in your handbag – you never know when you will suffer the dreaded ladder
  • Look in the mirror before going into your important meeting, and check that your appearance is ‘just so’

For everyone:

  • Keep a shoe polish kit handy (yes, what your mum told you is true).
  • A toothbrush and toothpaste is not a bad idea particularly after a garlic heavy lunch finished with a strong coffee.

[box title=”FREE Partnership Potential Assessment” box_color=”#9f9bb2″]

Assess partnership potential copy 200pxOur FREE partnership potential assessment tool is useful to see if you are making the right impression in your office [/box]

In summary…

Dressing appropriately for your business development meeting, is the first step to making a good impression.

Martin Bragg is a highly experienced business development expert with 20 years experience in professional service firms. Martin has worked in business development for major international law firms including the magic circle and for accountancy practices in the big four and beyond. Martin can be contacted via email on martinjbragg@yahoo.co.uk

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