You only get to make a first impression once, so you better make it count. This is true for your personal life, but even more so when it comes to your career. The impression clients have of you will shape all future interactions and will hugely impact negotiations. Here are a few tips that will help build positive views about you and your business.

Do your homework

Before even meeting potential clients, you need to do your research and show up prepared. If you want to show them that you are serious, you need to have information and knowledge about the subjects you will be discussing. First of all, gather information about the people you meet with. Figure out their motives and their desires, what they want and what they expect from you. If your client is a company with a long history, take your time to study it, find out about crucial moments that have shaped that business and impress them by showing that you are really interested in building a satisfying relationship with them.

Body language

The way your body moves says a lot about you. While it’s easy to prepare a speech, delivering it is much harder. Keeping full control over your body in stressful situations is not easy. So, practice your body language to make sure you send out the right signals. The first thing you need to practice is your posture. Keeping your chest lifted and your head high will lower your cortisol levels, raise your testosterone and give you more confidence. Just as with all things in life, practice makes perfect, so practice your body language in front of a mirror before meeting potential clients.

The first handshake

It goes without saying that you should always shake hands with potential clients before a meeting, but just stretching out your hand is not enough. The first handshake can have a powerful effect on the people you meet, so it needs to be done right. A handshake needs to be firm and confident; a limp hand is one of the worst ways to make a first impression. The duration of the handshake is also important, don’t linger too much or it will get awkward. At this point, eye contact is crucial. Before you extend your hand, you need to make eye contact and acknowledge the other person. Only when they make eye contact back will you know that it’s time to shake their hand.

Impress them with your office

If you run your own business, inviting potential clients over is a good way to make a positive first impression. Meeting at your own office gives you the home-turf advantage and can boost your confidence. It also gives you the opportunity to dictate the pace of the meeting. When expecting visitors, make sure you make enough time in your schedule. One of the worst first impression you can make is being late to a meeting, especially if it’s in your own office. Starting the meeting with business talk is also a bad idea. You first need to make your guests comfortable, so always offer them water and coffee and start with some small talk to get everyone relaxed. Making a good first impression with potential clients is so important that you might want to consider professional visitor management. It’s worth investing in strong and long-lasting client relationships.

Remember the names

People have a hard time remembering the name of the person they have just met. This is especially true when quickly meeting more people at once.  Because of that, making an effort to actually remember someone’s name can go a long way to making a positive impression. People like hearing their own names. Calling someone by their personal name will have a positive psychological effect on them and make them instantly feel more drawn towards you.

Be available

Making a good impression over the phone is just as important as in live meetings. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you need to respond to new business inquiries as fast as possible. Making potential clients wait is never a good idea, as it will give them the impression that you don’t care and that they won’t be able to depend on you. The same is true when it comes to email communication. Responding to emails in a timely manner will show your clients that you value their time. In fact, if people write to you about urgent matters, it’s a good idea to have an assistant that can get back to them right away, so you can keep your reputation. Calling back shows that you understand their urgency and are committed to solving their problem as soon as possible.

As you meet more clients and gather experience, you will get better at making good impressions. Keep these tips in mind to help you improve faster and build long-lasting relationships.

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