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March 22, 2019 - Business News > Communications & Marketing
How to Make a Great First Impression in Business

Whether we like it or not, we're constantly making quick observations about the people that we meet. In business, it's extremely important to make a great impression — that's how we get second interviews, how we get hired and promoted, and how we get new business opportunities, among so much more. And sometimes, we make up our minds about someone else within a few minutes, making it even more important to make a great impression as quickly as possible.
No matter the business meeting, whether you're interviewing for a new position, meeting with important clients for the first time, or meeting with a potential investor, there are several ways that you can make a great first impression. Here are several tips to keep in mind:

Be Aware of Your Behavior

You can make an impression on whomever you're meeting with in as little as two minutes, so it's extremely important to be aware of your behavior, body language, and how you might be being perceived by those around you. This last point is more important that you might think, too. While waiting for a meeting, others in the office could be making mental notes of what you're doing in order to report to whomever you're meeting with before you meet with them. So even in the waiting room, remain professional. For example, don't chew gum or catch up on your personal phone calls.

From the start, practice good posture when sitting and standing, smile (especially when greeting someone), and make eye contact. You should also be aware of the tone of your voice and how you're speaking. Stay present and engaged with whomever you're meeting with, and choose your words carefully (but not so carefully that you're constantly pausing).

If you're not quite sure of how to act, match the tone and style of the person you're meeting with. For example, if you were expecting a meeting with a potential investor to be formal but he's dressed casually and is acting casually, then it's all right to behave in a business casual manner — especially if he encourages it. Just don't forget that it's a business meeting!

Dress and Groom to Impress

One of the first things that someone will notice about you, besides your body language or posture, is your appearance. Your hairstyle should look presentable, which means that you'll need to stay on top of haircuts or find a way to style it (for example, women can wear their hair up) so that it looks professional. For men, when in doubt, opt for a clean-shaven appearance (this is especially important in more traditional circles). And since you'll likely be shaking hands with whomever you meet, make sure your nails are clipped and filed.

As for your manner of dress, it largely depends on the industry and type of meeting. Regardless, your clothes should fit you well, so seek out a tailor if needed. While someone might not immediately notice that your clothes fit you well, they will notice if your clothes don't fit you well, such as if they are oversized or baggy, which will appear unprofessional. If you're not sure what to wear, always aim for more formal attire — a suit.

Practice Your Poker Face

There are plenty of unusual situations that require a good poker face, and an interview is certainly one of them. Before meeting for an interview, practice your poker face so that you're better prepared to handle any awkward or difficult situations that occur, such as when addressing any gaps in employment history or lack of relevant experience. This is especially crucial if you have very reactive facial expressions, where what you're really thinking is obvious to everyone.

For example, if a major client makes an uncomfortable joke, a poker face will help you to hide your discomfort or annoyance. And if this uncomfortable joke happens in the first few minutes after meeting someone, how you respond will set the tone of the meeting to follow. If your discomfort shows, this could lead to a short and awkward meeting, or even a lost business deal. It could even lead the client to think that your business is not a good fit for them. Practice your poker face and you'll be able to succeed in any meeting, no matter what is thrown at you.

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