How to Make Your First Impression a Lasting One | Career Development

When you are meeting a new business connection- whether it’s a hiring manager, a networking contact, or a potential client- the first impression you make will have an effect on the final outcome. In fact, research shows that it only takes seven seconds for someone to form an opinion about you. Let’s discuss a few ways you can make sure you will make a good and lasting impression.

Making new connections should be part of your strategic career plan! To learn more about developing your own career plan, download our free presentation, “Three Keys to Unlock Your Strategic Plan.”

When meeting someone for the first time in person, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t be late. When you are late to an appointment, your business connection will determine without even meeting you that you aren’t dedicated or trustworthy. This can all be avoided by planning to be 15-20 minutes early to your meeting. Even if you only live five minutes away from the meeting place, be there early. You never know when you will get stuck behind a slow driver or get a flat tire.
  • Think confident. If you make the mental choice to be confident, this will show through in your non-verbal communication, such as your posture and your gestures. Take a few moments at home or before getting out of the car to mentally gather yourself before your meeting. Use positive affirmations to push aside any negative thoughts and review the main points you want to cover in your meeting. If you believe you are confident, your new business connection will believe it as well.
  • Don’t forget to smile. This one may seem easy, but sometimes our nerves can betray us. Or, in an effort to “get to business,” we might forget to take a moment to smile at our business connection. A genuine smile can make all the difference when forming a first impression. To feel more relaxed when making new connections, pretend that you are seeing a friend instead of someone you don’t know.
  • Be authentic. Avoid trying to be someone you’re not in an effort to impress a new connection. Most times, others can pick up on this and it will hurt you instead of help you. Speak as you would normally, although in a business setting, make sure to use proper grammar and titles to respect the industry and the person’s position.

If you are reaching out to a new connection via email or a networking site, such as LinkedIn:

  • Spell check everything. Many business professionals will judge you based on your ability to spell and use proper grammar. Make sure that you use proper punctuation as well. If you aren’t sure, run it through a grammar checker or ask a friend to proofread.
  • Utilize your signature line. When emailing someone for the first time, use your signature line to stand out from the crowd. By using your branding statement, phone number, or portfolio link, you provide your new contact with information to help them form a positive opinion about you. 

For more tips on communication skills, download our free presentation, “Dealing with Difficult Coworkers or Employees.”

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