One of the best things about networking is the people you meet and the conversations you have. I recently reconnected with a woman I had met several years ago through a networking group. As we caught up on what has been happening in our lives and where we are in our businesses, we reminisced about how we had become acquainted, and the other people we met.
There was one meeting in particular that stood out in my mind. On this day, as everyone took turns introducing themselves, I noticed one gentleman was wearing a suit and tie and looked very nicely pulled together — until I happened to glance down and see he was wearing the dirtiest, grungiest sneakers I had ever seen outside of a mud puddle.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch the name of the next person to introduce himself as the wad of gum he was furiously chewing while he spoke made his words incomprehensible. He did have a nice smile.
And then we came to the individual who made the strongest impression (it turns out, on both of us.) Also very nicely dressed, including the shoes … but then he began to speak: “I usually associate with a higher caliber of people, but I was free today, so I thought I’d come by and see what the group was like.”
A few years later, this one individual stood out very clearly in both of our memories, even though we had never before talked about it; I don’t remember even making eye contact with her when the comment was made. I do remember thinking “did I really just hear what I think I heard?” It turns out she had had the same reaction (well, realistically, who wouldn’t?) I wonder what he would think if he knew he was one of the first things to come up in our conversation, three years later.
It’s important to make a good impression when networking, not only with your appearance but also with the words you use. You never know whom you might meet, or who they may know.
How do you want people to remember you in a few years?