When you meet someone for the first time in a business setting, you may only have one chance to make a connection that lasts. So how can you make the most of the opportunity? Here are three steps to help you make a good impression and build strong business relationships. Use these to make better connections in your personal life as well.

Step 1: Connect using Language

Research in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) shows that we communicate with others on a subconscious level. What is your predominant style of communicating?


You think in pictures. You enjoy TV, cinema and photography. Your language will be full of visual words such as "the way I see it" "this is what it looks like to me" or "my view of the future".


You are drawn to sounds. You enjoy the radio, music and listening to others. Your language is commonly "It sounds like" "Hear me out" or "Listen to this".


Feelings are important. You are tuned in to the state of relationships. You are likely to be more tactile than others. Your language will include words such as "The way I feel about it" "I can't grasp what you are saying" "I was touched by your kindness".

Auditory Digital

Plans and structure are important. You need to see the logic of the situation. You are likely to be well organised in your work and personal life. Your language will include words such as "Does this fit with your plans" "I will monitor progress .." Let's assess the situation" .

The next time you are in a public place, listen to the conversations around you. Can you spot if someone has a predominant style? Tune into the language you hear.

If your business acquaintance speaks in visual terms and you respond with visual words, then your connection will deepen. He/she will feel that you are "speaking the same language". And this happens at a subconscious level.

Step 2: Connect with your Body Language

If you watch two people who are deep in conversation, you will see that their body language is the same. It is like looking into a mirror. If one person folds their arms, the other will follow suit. Again, this is communicating on a subconscious level. So if you want to deepen a connection, take note of the body language of your business acquaintance and mirror it. Are they sitting back or leaning forward? How are they using their hands? Are their legs crossed? and so on. Maintain good eye contact, and keep a comfortable personal distance from your colleague, so that you are not invading their personal space but are also not too remote.

Step 3: Connect with your Listening

People who connect quickly are good listeners. Follow the 80:20 rule and let your business acquaintance do most of the talking. It is not easy, as we think four times faster than the spoken word! If you train yourself to really listen, then your connection will be stronger. Find out what interests them, what they need, and how you might be able to help them. Get curious about personal experiences and shared interests. This will make the conversation more enjoyable for both of you. People switch off quickly if they feel they are being "sold to" so treat your business acquaintance as a person and not a prospect, if you want to increase your chances of meeting them again.

Author's Bio: 

Ann Halloran

Practical management skills advice for business owners and managers. Get best practice tips on a wide range of topics such as time management, motivation, communication skills, presentation skills, performance appraisal and more.

Content based on 30 years management/consultancy experience gained in a wide range of business sectors.

To find out your predominant communication style, download the FREE Communication Styles Questionnaire from my website.

For more information, click on Communication Skills.