My mother always used to say, “You never have a second chance to make a great first impression.” I remember hearing this little lesson on many first days of school, when I started new jobs, even those times meeting people who I probably would never see again.

She believed, as I do now, that positive first impressions are what determine positive relationships from the very start. Attitude, appearance, mannerisms, all factor into what makes or breaks the initial encounter with a person. If you are happy, put together, and carry yourself with confidence, people will view you as someone with whom to continue a conversation past the first one. On the other hand, a poor first impression is hard to shake, too. If you are sour, unkempt, and confrontational, well, good luck and goodbye!

A mother’s advice is never something to ignore. I have made great first impressions that earned me respect and appreciation, not to mention long-term relationships, among professional colleagues and personal friends alike.

Here are a few of the ways I ensure that my first impression is a great one:

Punctuality

No one can get by in life or in business by showing up late, missing due dates, and generally ignoring other people’s time. Punctuality requires three easy steps:

  1. Don’t begin a project or task that prevents you from leaving at a specific time.
  2. Leave for meetings or appointments with enough time, and anticipate any delays along the way that will cause you to be late.
  3. Honestly care enough to do numbers 1 and 2.

That’s it. A little foresight, a little consideration, and barring any unforeseen delays, you’re pretty certain to be on time.

Preparation

The Internet allows us to find facts, figures, and images whenever we need them. Are you scheduled for an important meeting with a key prospect? Interviewing with a new company? In all situations where a first impression is so critical, it behooves you to do your due diligence by using the Internet to your advantage. You can ace these encounters with a bit of research and preparation.

Presence

Presence is more nuanced than simply your choice of outfit or how hair is styled. It also takes into account your personal hygiene, body language and facial expressions, poise and confidence. It’s about the overall impression with which you carry yourself, the “total package,” as it were. The most expensive designer outfit won’t overcome a glum expression and dirty hands.

Pretty easy, right? So then how come so many people arrive late, present themselves inappropriately, and are unable to make a great first impression?

Don’t be that person!

(And just so we’re clear, making the best first impression also entails leaving a lasting impression, too. One of the best ways to do this is to use high impact promotional items to help secure your brand. Need help for the upcoming trade show or holiday season? Let me know and let’s connect.)