Whether you are attending a networking event, pitching investors for funding, or meeting your future mother-in-law for the first time your non-verbal communication will speak volumes. You will certainly want to understand the importance of body language when forming first impressions. It’s been proposed that it only takes 7 seconds to make a great first impression. A lot of the things that influence and signal a great first impression during these 7 seconds are your non-verbal cues.
Non-verbal communication has been in practice for thousands of years and will likely never be fully replaced by the spoken word. Body language can be used to convey a message by itself or support what’s being said verbally. Both in business and in life, you will need to have the skills to communicate effectively.
These non-verbal signals can become magnified during networking events and include:
See if you can guess what fast food restaurant I’m visiting based on the following dialogue.
A clean cut team member approaches my table and says “may I top off your soda” I respond “Sure thanks” He takes my cup and and is back in a flash. I respond “Thanks” He responds “It’s my pleasure” with a big smile and moves on to help the next customer.
If you guessed Chick-fil-A then you are correct! For a company that relies heavily on a teenage workforce they have done an outstanding job of training their staff to be courteous, helpful and to use good old fashioned manners.
A while back on a very snowy evening my wife and I decided to swing in to get a chicken sandwich and as we sat down I became particularly impressed with one of the staff and pointed her out to my wife. She seemed to glide from one section to another effortlessly keeping tables clean and topping off beverages. How could she be everywhere at once and not even seem rushed? While we were watching she dashed outside. “Where is she going”? I asked my wife. A minute later I see her at a car brushing snow off of the windshield. “Look at that, she doesn’t even have a coat on” Next thing I know she is escorting two ladies to the car she had cleaned and then back into the building to work on tables. My wife and I look at each other and say to each other, “that’s crazy, what just happened”?
I flag down this girl because I had a question. She came over and I ask “Since when does Chick-fil-A provide snow removal service”? “Oh” she said blushing, and then proceeded to explain that these ladies came from the airport and that the car they had rented did not have a snow brush. “So, I decided to run out to my car real quick and grab my brush to clear the snow for these women.” Spectacular! I told this girl that I was impressed by her heart for customer service and encouraged her to keep up the good work. I believe this young lady has a bright future ahead!
Now compare that to our experience at Pizza Hut.
My family loves pizza and we were hungry and looking forward to our Cheese Lovers Pizza. When the Pizza arrived there was just one thing wrong. No Cheese. “Where’s the cheese” we all said in unison? We discussed it with the waitress and she agreed that it looked pretty skimpy and so she talked to the manager. When she returned we were informed that the manager had measured it herself and that it was correct.
I poke around the pizza thinking that perhaps they hid it. Where did they hide the cheese? Under the pepperoni? Nope! Maybe they put it inside the crust? Nope! Did it slide to one side? Nope!
The Manager finally comes over, with a measuring cup in her hand and proceeds to tell us about their production process and how they measure out the cheese to exact specifications. Needless to say, we were not happy. My wife was upset because she felt we were getting ripped off and the pizza doesn’t taste as good without cheese. The kids were upset because mom and dad were making a scene and why can’t we just eat the pizza and leave. I was upset because I couldn’t believe something this simple couldn’t just be resolved by adding a bit of cheese.
No matter what, that manager was not going to budge, and so for over 25 years we have told this story hundreds of times and to this day my wife refuses to eat at a Pizza Hut.
Wow! What a stark contrast between these two experiences. Isn’t is amazing the difference one person can make?
Here are a few more questions:
Do you know what your customers expect?
What impact does your staff have on the organization's reputation?
How do you make sure you are hiring the right staff to begin with?
How much time and effort goes into your onboarding process and ongoing staff development?
Do you know what the lifetime value of a customer is?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Dwight Grant is a seasoned businessman with over 30 years of leadership experience. He lives in CO where he enjoys whitewater rafting, mountain biking and spending time with family.