One of the best ways to make a good impression with clients, potential clients and business colleagues (all of whom might be sources of referrals) is to be prepared. The Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts of America introduce the "Be Prepared" motto early to their young members, and I think it’s a simple, powerful yet commonly overlooked element in business success.

You know that time you were ridiculously late and unprepared to a meeting, compared to when you get there early, were able to connect with people and have everything you need in order, including a confident state of mind.   Entering every situation fully prepared allows you to build a great reputation, and also makes you feel great about yourself and your business.

Here are 5 areas of preparation effective in creating that WOW factor:

  1. Resources and Information: Think ahead about what information you might need to have when going into a situation. This could include preparing the answers to your top 10 frequently asked questions. It may also be worthwhile to create a system to easily update information that changes periodically (like stock prices, unemployment rates, market trends, etc…). Having the answers is one way to make a dynamite impression.
  2. Mental, Physical, and Spiritual State of Being: Know what you need. If you know that you work better with a bottle of water before your presentation or meeting, be diligent about making sure you have it. If you need to stretch, then stretch. If you realize that spirituality – in whatever form applicable to you – is important in your life, then add prayer or meditation or whatever you need to your schedule. It will leave you more completely prepared for any opportunities ahead of you.
  3. Logistics: Think ahead. Ask yourself the questions “Who?” “Where?” “Why” “How” and “When?” and make sure you are organized well beforehand. A fun example is a recent, AWESOME road trip I had with my youngest son. We had planned our route, camping sites, and in some cases, places to eat before we hit the road on any given day, so we didn’t have to spend time worrying about those things while we were together, which led for more fun time and fewer distractions or stress. This is applicable to business too. Prepare lead time for the basics, be on time for things, and think ahead to what happens next. If you know you might head into some heavy traffic, schedule buffer time for it. Arriving early will give you more time to prepare yourself than rushing in late and flustered.
  4. Allow for Surprises and Spontaneity: PLAN YOUR DAY THE NIGHT BEFORE. I really cannot emphasize that enough. Knowing you have a solid plan of attack in place when you wake up in the morning leaves you more energized and focused so you can jump into your days with ease. Be sure to plan for those surprises during your day – the setbacks, the computer glitches, the emergencies, but more importantly, the GREAT OPPORTUNITIES that will come your way. If you find your nicely-planned morning didn’t turn out the way you wanted it, sit down and do what I call a ‘Mid-Day Re-Do’ and get yourself back on track. Allow for time to focus on your projects AS WELL AS planned “get-back-to-you-time” to follow-up with people who called or e-mailed you during your focus time.
  5. Ask Questions: Be inquisitive. Beyond the ice-breakers like “How about this weather?” you should prepare thought-provoking questions to get your perspective client or colleague talking and sharing. This works to establish a rapport and a truly deeper relationship - it's more fun, too! Some great questions to ask are: “What energizes you most about what you do?” or “What challenges are you facing that you’re willing to share?”

Remember these five tips and you’ll find your next interactions or presentations will lead to the types of business relationships and successes that you’ve always wanted. Let me know how it goes! I love to hear good news!

Author's Bio: 

Jonathan Flaks, M.C.C., Business Success Coach - Since 1998, Jonathan has been helping entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals focus on and reach ambitious goals, maintain continuous confidence and motivation, and achieve balanced success. Jonathan maintains a Master Certified Coach distinction from the International Coach Federation. He earned a dual degree from Cornell University and was Adjunct Professor in Business Leadership and Coaching Skills for New York University. Clients have come from BMG Entertainment, Morgan-Stanley-Smith-Barney, KPMG, Disney, Deloitte, Honeywell, Goldman Sachs, and many entrepreneurial and professional service firms. If you want to start every week with a positive, confident attitude, visit Monday Morning Mini-Motivation Meetings.