The first impression
This encompasses everything from looks to behaviour. Whoever you are meeting will be asking themselves “how does this person intend to treat me?”
Research shows that first impressions are usually judged in terms of two things, and those happen to be trustworthiness and competence. In terms of trustworthiness, people want to know that you are (basically) a person with decent values. Will treat them with respect? Will you be warm, or rude? A great way of securing a person’s trust is to be interested in their values and interests; don’t try to come off as overly warm, but do relate to them in a way that makes you personable. In terms of competence, people need to know that you possess the skills that they need. Are you intelligent or teachable, or are you arrogant?
How you say something is just as important as what you actually say. Keep it simple.
Show that you are interested by sitting with good posture. Show you’re listening by making eye contact and definitely hold back from fiddling. If you naturally make a point by using hand gestures, do ensure that they are non-threatening; refrain from pointing fingers (which singles people out and has dominant connotations) or making fists… And keep your arms decidedly uncrossed!
Paint a picture of yourself that sets you apart from the rest – people want and appreciate what is scarce. Find what you can offer that others cannot.
Of course; it’s the reason you’re meeting to begin with. This part is simple. Be prepared, be precise, be honest, and be on point. Do not waste anyone’s time, but find balance between going too fast and taking your time. Have an agenda but make sure you stay flexible.
Generally, if you do something for something, they are going to be likely to want to reciprocate the action – whether it be a favour or even a general manner. Make the role of the people you are meeting with easier; if it’s a job interview, anticipate what documents they will require and hand them over before they even ask. If it’s a professional meeting, pay your attendees the same courtesy.
Doing something proactive like this makes their life easier, and they will be likely to feel compelled to do the same for you.