Making a fantastic first impression is one of the most important elements of business. A solid impression can help you nail a presentation with investors, recruit a talented partner or employee, or even finalize a contract with a lucrative client. One of the downsides is, of course, the amount of time and money you might need to invest to make that impression a reality.
Fortunately, there are plenty of time- and cost-efficient strategies that can help you make stronger impressions.
Build a Reputation for Yourself
You’re best served if you have a reputation to proceed you; this way, your first impression won’t hinge entirely on your first few seconds of interaction with someone. There are a few ways to approach this, but all of them start with developing talking points for yourself. For example, what is your background? What do you do? How much of an expert are you, and what evidence is there to show for it?
From there, you can work to build a reputation for yourself by developing a personal brand and building an audience of social media followers. If you do, people may start recognizing you before you meet them in person—especially if they do research on you beforehand. Alternatively, you can come prepared with a solid line or two to introduce yourself, briefly describing your niche and/or expertise. The more networking events you attend, and the more involved you are in the community, the more your reputation will proceed you; it takes time, but costs nothing.
Buy a Used Luxury Car
If you’re traveling to a meeting with a high-profile investor, or a potentially groundbreaking client, you’ll want to drive up in a vehicle that speaks to your success. Unfortunately, luxury vehicles can be expensive—but not if you get one used. Luxury cars are made well, and generally have a long life expectancy, so buying a previously owned one is a good way to maximize your investment without jeopardizing the reliability of your ride.
Tailor Your Clothes
You don’t have to buy expensive luxury clothing items to look good. Even moderately priced items can suit you well if you invest in a bit of tailoring. Tailoring, when combined with inexpensive clothes, is more cost-efficient than buying custom or top-of-the-line clothing, and you’ll probably make a better impression, so long as they fit you right. Invest in four or five custom-fitted suits, so you have something perfectly fitted to wear each day of the week.
Improve Your Posture
Posture has a powerful effect on the impression you make, and for more reasons than you might think. Closing off your body might dissuade people from talking to you, or might make you seem standoffish, and slouching or minimizing your posture might come off as unsettling or even unprofessional. Instead, standing up tall and confidently, with your shoulders back, gives a much better first impression. It may also have a positive effect on your own psychology; studies show that physical posture could boost your mood, motivation, and confidence, indirectly resulting in landing an even better first impression.
Learn to Have Memorable Conversations
It’s not all about appearance; you should also be equipped to hold a memorable conversation with anyone you meet, regardless of the circumstances. When starting a conversation with someone, make sure to find something you have in common, such as the venue, your line of work, or a shared sports team. From there, ask lots of questions, and show interest in what the other person is saying. Be sure to share some jokes or personal anecdotes, and work on your storytelling ability to drive the impression home.
One of the most important tips on this list is to practice. Nobody makes a perfect first impression at their first networking event or first client meeting. But the more you expose yourself to others, and the more you invest in your own appearance and behavior, the stronger and more confident you’ll seem.
You don’t have to invest much to make a great impression. So long as you’re consistent, and you pay attention to both your image and your behavior, you can start all your meetings on the right foot and increase your chances of securing deals.