Avoid First-Impression Mistakes You’d be surprised how many entrepreneurs pitch ideas without doing enough homework. Don’t let this happen to you, warns Harvard blogger Anthony Tja

Poor first impressions are avoidable. I’m amazed by some of the really unfortunate mistakes that people make during important first meetings, whether it’s a job interview, an important pitch, or other high stakes first-time business encounters. The secret to avoiding these mistakes is to spend time preparing before the meeting.

In today’s hyper-connected world, there’s no excuse for not learning as much as possible about whom you are meeting and their company. It’s the basic mental training you need to do before “game day.” And yet people don’t do it enough. If people prepped as much for an important business meeting as they did for a first date, there would be a lot more business success stories.

Last week, I was conducting interviews for a position in our firm. I asked a candidate which of our portfolio companies he liked the best, and he could not remember the name of a single company. Another candidate came in and thought we were an advertising company (we are a venture capital firm). And it’s not just job seekers. Many entrepreneurs come to pitch ideas without studying in greater detail the backgrounds of the partners with whom they were meeting. It was easy to tell that, at most, they took a quick scan of our website prior, but didn’t spend enough time there, or didn’t focus on the right parts.

By Anthony Tjan

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