Make a First Impression That Counts
First impressions, especially in the business world, are crucial. Why? Because giving a bad first impression may diminish the confidence prospective employers or customers could have in you. I could even cost you business. The first impression you give will set the tone for your future business relationships and, if done correctly, shows that you are professional and prepared. It won’t be difficult for you to give a good first impression every time if you follow these few simple guidelines:
Dress for Success
Dressing appropriately, not just well, is very important in first impressions. Appropriate dress shows that you respect your business and your customers. Be aware of dress code so you don’t over or underdress. However, when in doubt, always lean on the conservative side. Looking successful will convey confidence in yourself. Showing up to a meeting poorly groomed will suggest to the other person that you do not care enough about the meeting to bother making an effort and that you do not respect their time.
You body language, after you appearance, is one of the first things a person will notice when meeting you. You might be surprised at how much you can say without even opening your mouth to speak. If your body stance is slouched and you are crossing your arms or your hands are in your pockets, you are presenting yourself in a closed off manor; you will send the message that you are not interested in the interaction. Standing straight and alert, with your shoulders back, arms at your side, and head up, indicates that you are interested and ready to do business. Maintaining eye contact is also very important. Focused and unwavering eye contact displays confidence on your part, and also demonstrates that you are focusing entirely on the other person.
Greeting and the Conversation
Showing confidence when you greet someone for the first time aids in giving a good first impression. Remember what we said about eye contact? Now add a firm handshake, greet them by name (make sure you have the correct pronunciation down beforehand), say your own name slowly and clearly, and also don’t forget to smile. Doing all these things will show the person you’re greeting that you are self-assured. Make sure you do not dominate the conversation. Actively listen to what the person you’re meeting with has to say and take the time to ask them meaningful questions. Always conclude a conversation by thanking them for their time.