How to make a great first impression

‘You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’ a basic business rule that is often forgotten. We’ve been all told this since we were 4 years old. So why am I even talking about it? As a coach I see so many mistakes being made in this area on a regular basis. Some are old mistakes, but the new digital era also brings new mistakes. Here are some simple rules for making a great first impression.

Online Presence

It used to be that you made your first impression with a firm handshake, a smile and dressing well. Now your first impression happens before you actually meet – digitally.

  • Make certain your picture, profile and position are on your company website, as well as those of any people on your team you bring to a meeting.
  • Have a current and professional profile on LinkedIn. Almost one out of every two business people who are meeting with someone for the first time looks online prior to the meeting and LinkedIn is one of the most frequently used platforms.
  • Restrict your non-friend Facebook access. There is no sense in letting your personal life drive your first professional impression, even if you think you have nothing to hide.

Your Team

The people who surround you are a clear part of your professional impression. Prospects and customers know that performance quality is driven by many people within an organisation. Good teams create confidence in the first impression.

  • Make sure your team understands all the same rules about grooming, handshakes, dress, smiles and eye contact that you follow.
  • Take the right number of people to a meeting. Base it on the number of people the other company is bringing. If you have too many from your side, you will make them feel overwhelmed; too few suggests a lack of understanding and respect.  Use the I 2:3 ratio–two of your side for every three of theirs.
  • Congruence is important. You don’t have to look, sound and act exactly alike. You do have to demonstrate you work well together as a team.


As you are sending out so many first impressions before you connect face to face, you need to make certain you get all of the details right.

  • Emails – the agenda, appointment confirmation and logistics need to be managed well. Your emails need to have complete contact information–including names and titles for all attendees you are bringing. This must be sent at least 24 hours before meeting.
  • What to bring:  Bring it all – bring it on paper and digital; and bring more copies than you think you need. That goes for collateral sales material, presentations and parting gifts. Also, make certain everyone on your team brings their business cards.
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