Making Better Impressions

Joseph Stubblebine
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When meeting people, you have just one opportunity to make a great first impression. The impression you make during your first meeting will likely stick with new people for a long time, so you must avoid common mistakes and work hard to present yourself as a professional. Follow these networking tips to ensure you do not miss out on rewarding opportunities because you made a bad first impression.

Always choose appropriate attire when meeting people at networking events, business meetings, and other professional occasions. If you want to come across as a professional, you must dress like one. The right outfit for one event might not be appropriate for another, so choose your clothing with the occasion in mind. If suits are the norm for your company, wear a suit to business functions. If you work for a startup with a relaxed dress code, slacks and a polo shirt might fit the bill. If you are attending a mixer or holiday party, choose an outfit that makes you looked polished and professional.

If you will be meeting people in a business setting, brush up on the best way to introduce yourself. When you meet someone, you should give the person a firm handshake while maintaining eye contact. Avoid crushing the person's hand in yours, but be careful not to use a weak handshake. This conveys a lack of confidence in your abilities and may make a bad impression. Repeat the person's name so you have an easier time remembering it later. Give your name as soon as you meet so that the other person has the opportunity to memorize it.

In many cases, you will have advance notice of a meeting with new people. Prepare by researching each person you will be meeting. Use Dun & Bradstreet or Hoovers to find information about their company. This will give you the information you need to ask intelligent questions and demonstrate an interest in the new people you are meeting. If you will be meeting people from another country, learn about the country's cultural customs. Taking the time to do this can help you avoid embarrassing gaffes. Once the meeting begins, turn off your electronic devices and give your full attention to the person speaking. This will help you build strong relationships with managers and business professionals.   

Making a good first impression is essential if you want to succeed in the business world. Always dress appropriately when meeting people, especially if you work in a conservative field such as law or medicine. Practice your handshake to ensure it is firm enough to convey confidence without hurting the other person. Take time to prepare for meetings, especially if you will be meeting people from other regions. Following these tips will help you present yourself as a polished professional in any situation.



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