Business Etiquette

Ten Ways to Make a Great First Impression

September 13, 2011  |     |   0 Comment

It only takes five seconds to make a first impression. That’s it. Like it or not, people judge others and form their opinion of you from the moment they first meet you. This especially holds holds true for business relationships – from an initial job interview to interactions with colleagues to meetings with potential clients. To ensure you start any business situation off on the right foot, consider the following ten tips so you leave a great first impression:

Dress for Success

People respond to and give more respect to those who are dressed professionally. If you appear polished and put-together when you first meet somebody, they will be more intrigued by and more responsive to you.

Have a Firm Handshake

We notice people non-verbally by their touch, and the way we touch someone in business is with our handshake. When you are first introduced to somebody, give him or her a warm welcome and a firm handshake. There are few things worse than a limp or “dead fish” handshake when you first meet somebody. Extend your right hand with the thumb up and fingers out. Meet the other person’s hand web-to-web. Shake from the elbow, not the wrist or shoulder. Shake by giving two smooth pumps, and be sure to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Firm handshakes are a sign of confidence, which is definitely an attitude you will want to convey. Limp handshakes convey a sense of insecurity or dismissal.


The best way to make others comfortable when you first meet them is by giving them a genuine smile. When you are introduced to them, say their name and let them know what a pleasure it is to meet them, maintaining a smile on your face.

Eye Contact

When you are having your first conversation with somebody, be sure to maintain eye contact. You definitely do not want to come across as a bad listener or somebody who gets easily distracted. Maintaining eye contact during a conversation makes the speaker feel that, at that moment, they are the most important person to you. You do not want your eyes to scan the room as they speak to you or they are liable to feel that you are not very interested in what they have to say or that you are scanning the room for somebody better to talk to.

Remembering Names

Stop telling yourself you don’t remember names and start telling yourself, “I’m good at remembering names.” This statement, repeated often enough, can counteract any negative message about not remembering names. Slow down, listen carefully, and pay attention when you meet a new person. Use the person’s name in conversation, and use it often. Repetition builds memory. This will do double-duty, as most people like to have their name said in conversation.

Be a Good Listener

When having a conversation with someone, make sure to let him or her know in a subtle manner that you are paying attention to what is being said. Do not be afraid to nod your head and chime in with the occasional, “I see,” or “I understand,” or any other verbal cue that shows the other person that you are indeed listening attentively. Never, never, never interrupt when someone else is speaking. Interrupting someone in mid-sentence is extremely rude and will count as one strike against you in just about any business setting.

Ask Questions

Make sure to ask questions. Asking questions shows the other person that you are interested in who they are and what they have to say and they will leave thinking that you were very attentive and a good conversationalist.

Avoid Hogging the Spotlight

Let the other person be the center of attention. Never hog the spotlight. Do not talk on and on about yourself as you will leave the impression of being egotistical rather than appearing as someone who could help others further their business. Ask the other person about himself or herself an let that person be the center of attention. You will not only appear to be gracious, but you will also learn more about the person you are dealing with. Pay close attention to the conversation as those little details may be useful in the future.

Be Aware of Your Posture

Good posture is a must if you wish to leave a first great impression. Good posture instantly creates an impression of confidence and sets the stage for others to accept you as a winner. When standing or seated always keep your back straight, shoulders back, arms to the side and chin up so you are able to make appropriate eye contact.

Say “Thank You”

Never end a conversation or meeting without saying “thank you” or “it was a pleasure to meet you.” Ending a conversation graciously and professionally with another person will leave a lasting and positive impression.

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