How to make a great first impression

Did you know it takes someone approximately four seconds to make an initial judgement on you? This judgement is then finalised within 30 seconds of the initial contact. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanour, your mannerisms, and how you’re dressed.

In the business world, making a great first impression is imperative for forging sustainable and long-term relationships. We’ve all met people we instantly like and want to get to know more. Most of the time, these people follow a few basic rules that make their first impression a strong one.

Bearded businessman drinking coffee at business meeting
Arrive on time

There’s nothing worse than being late to an initial meeting. It can give the other person the impression that you aren’t organised or don’t care. Plan to arrive a few minutes early because it’s much better than arriving late.

Body language

Your body language has just as much as influence as what you say. Stand with a confident posture, smile, deliver a firm handshake, and make purposeful eye contact.

Be yourself & pay attention to others

Do you get a little nervous before meeting people for the first time? Guess what … most people are just as uncomfortable or anxious as you are during an initial meeting. Be calm and confident, which will make you and the other person feel more at ease. It’s also important to pay attention to others by listening and show interesting. Don’t forget your manners either … ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘what about you?’ go a long way.

Present yourself well

You don’t need movie-star looks or designer clothes to make a great first impression. However, it is still important to present yourself appropriately.  Clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for most business and social occasions:

  • A good haircut or shave
  • Clean and tidy clothes
  • Neat and tidy make up

Make sure your grooming is appropriate and helps make you feel ‘the part’.

Follow up

A great first impression may go to waste if you don’t follow up. Don’t wait a week or longer to make the first contact. Although your new contact may remember you, the impact of your meeting will have dramatically diminished. With modern technology, it’s easy to reach out the next day with a text message or short email.


Just remember you’ve only got a short time to make a good first impression and it’s difficult to change it. With a little extra thought, effort and preparation, you can make every first impression not just good but great.

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