There is an old saying, “It takes over 100 good impressions to make up for one bad impression.” You can never make a first impression twice, so you’d better nail it the first time. Making a good first impression is essential in the success of your business relationships and personal relationships.
Depending on the type of business you run, you could be making first impressions all day long or just once a week. Either way, you want to be prepared. Here are some things to remember in order to make a great impression.
1. Smile! Yes, just a simple, genuine smile will go a long way.
2. Eye Contact. Looking someone in the eye tells them that you have nothing to hide and are trust worthy. (Just don’t stare!)
3. Hygiene. This goes without saying, but be sure you are showered, teeth brushed, and deodorant on.
4. Firm hand shake. You don’t want to give someone the “cold trout”. That means a dead cold hand that the other person has to shake. It’s a team effort, both parties need to grasp firmly and shake.
5. Look appropriate. You don’t have to sacrifice your personal style but you should always be appropriate. Dress for the occasion, a suit might be the appropriate outfit for the boardroom just as lingerie is appropriate for the bedroom, not the other way around. There is a time and place for everything.
6. Be confident. Confidence will outshine any poor outfit decision, bad hair day or chipped manicure. Be ok with who you are and confident in the skill set you bring to the table. If you don’t believe in your self, who will?
7. Make small talk. Don’t worry if you don’t think you can’t make small talk. Just like anything else, it takes practice. Arm yourself with some conversation starters. If you do this right, the other person will be doing most of the talking and you’re off the hook! “Where are you originally from?” “How long have you been working for the company?” “Do you have kids?” “I love that bag, where did you get it?” A compliment goes a long way.
8. Be respectful of the other person’s time. Always be on time for appointments, don’t take too long to set up if you are giving a presentation and try to get through your agenda as quickly and clearly as possible.
9. When appropriate, always follow up. Whether a note, phone call, email, etc., be sure to follow up to say how nice it was to meet them and thank them for their time. This solidifies in the other person’s mind their good impression of you.