It is said that most people decide whether they like you within the first seven seconds of meeting you. Unfortunately, that doesn’t give a lot of time to make a positive first impression. However, there are five things you can do to invoke a great initial reaction during those seven seconds, and continue to reinforce that positive reaction for the rest of your encounter.

Dress for success

The first thing someone may notice when meeting you for the first time is what you look like. Many people form an opinion about someone based on their appearance, and this is especially true in a business setting. Before you meet with a client or potential customer, be sure that you are well groomed and dressed for success. This will communicate that you are a highly professional individual, which is the foremost sought after trait in someone with whom others want to conduct business.

Meet in a professional setting

If you are the one arranging and hosting a meeting, similar to passing judgment on someone’s appearance, people may also form an opinion based on where you choose to accommodate a prospective client. When planning your meeting, make sure you arrange to meet in a professional setting. If you are a home-based business, or a small business with a simpler, unadorned office space, consider using meeting room rentals. All meeting spaces are situated in professional business centers in prime locations, and come equipped with state-of-the-art presentation tools, high speed internet, and lobby greeters prepared to direct them to your meeting. This extra touch of sophistication not only helps foster better first impressions in business, but also on you as an individual.

Make eye contact

Upon meeting someone for the first time, actively strive to make eye contact. This is considered very positive body language that helps build trust. However, it is important to strike a balance; you neither want to make too much eye contact, nor too little. Too much eye contact can be seen as dominating and hostile, while too little makes you appear insecure and evasive. Find a perfect harmony between the two to establish a genuine connection signifying mutual likeability.

Project confidence

Eye contact is not the only revealing form of body language. There are other mannerisms, postures, and gestures that project confidence, such as using a positive and exuberant tone of voice, standing and sitting up straight, keeping your arms uncrossed, and leaning in toward a person when they are speaking to convey interest. These all demonstrate that you have a high emotional intelligence, which is proven to be linked to career success. In fact, prospective clients are more likely to conduct business with someone with high EQ over competitors or other professionals with just a high IQ. To put it simply, confident body language is very powerful.

Be genuine and friendly

Be sure to smile and greet clients and customers warmly. A quick sincere and friendly greeting takes advantage of the brief window of time during which they are likely to make an assessment. When engaging with them in conversation, smile and ask questions showing genuine interest in them and what they have to say.

Of course, these are all well and good if a client’s first impression of your business is in person. It is more likely that they have been in correspondence with you and your business prior to meeting, in which case it is wise to take precautionary measures to improve your business’s image, like hiring a virtual receptionist.

Receptionists are typically the first part of your business with whom customers and clients interact, making them a critical to making a positive first impression. However, hiring a full-time employee to tend to these details is not a luxury that many small businesses can afford. Alternatively, live virtual receptionists are available for a fraction of the price to ensure that all business-to-customer communication is friendly and professional, resulting in better first impressions of your business and increased customer satisfaction.

Making a positive first impression doesn’t have to be challenging. When first impressions can either make or break a good client connection, it is crucial that you present yourself and your business to be confident and professional, which can be easily achieved with the right body language, a sophisticated appearance, and genuine friendliness.

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