Our first meeting with someone sets the tone for our entire relationship. It also determines if there will be a relationship at all. It’s critical that the first impression we make be a good one. And since you never know when you’re going to meet someone important, you’re well advised to take the following advice.
1. Dress well. People begin evaluating you before your first words are exchanged. Whether you’re in formal, business or casual attire, make sure your outfit projects the best of your personality.
2. Have a mint. There’s almost nothing more distracting or repelling than bad breath. Make a practice of brushing your teeth well and using mouthwash. Never turn down a breath mint (cause it might be breath hint.).
3. Have a moderately firm handshake. This goes for women as well as men. Weak handshakes make you seem unsure of yourself. If you’re in a social setting, hold moist beverages in your left hand to keep your right hand dry.
4. Make good eye contact and stand up straight with your hands out of your pockets. This conveys confidence and respect.
5. Learn and use their name. Pay attention during introductions. Say things like ‘It’s nice to meet you, Steve.’ To reinforce their name in your brain.
6. Be a good listener. No one likes to feel trapped by someone who won’t stop talking. Ask questions and show the person that you’re interested in them.
7. Look for an opportunity to help them. Offer them a lead, a favor or an introduction to someone else. Gestures of kindness help people, make a good impression, and give you an excuse to contact them again.
8. Be 100% present with the person. Face them directly. Don’t look at your watch or over their shoulder.
9. Be aware if they’re not 100% present with you. Are they engaged in your conversation or just being polite? Are they asking you questions, or just answering yours? If they tend to look around, check their watch and/or shift their weight, bring your conversation to a close.
10. Follow up quickly and politely. Send a note or email to let the person know you enjoyed meeting them. If possible, make a reference to something you discussed, especially if it’s something humorous.