Whether it’s sending an email to a prospective client, calling a contact or meeting someone at a networking event, first impressions really do count. You only get one chance to impress and to establish your credibility with a new contact or customer. And so it’s important that you put your best foot forward. In this article we examine some everyday business situations and share a few tips on how you can make the perfect first impression.

Emails

Most people tend to ignore emails from people they don’t know. Unless you want your email to end up in the spam basket, you need to take the time to craft a subject heading and message that’s personalised to that individual. Make it easy for the recipient by being upfront about why they should read your email over the dozens of others they receive. So use the subject line to establish a connection: ‘It was great to meet you at ABC’s conference’. Or if you have a mutual friend/client then try using this subject heading to establish a rapport: ‘Our mutual friend/client (state their name) thinks we should chat.’ Hopefully, by establishing a connection in this way the recipient will be inclined to at least read the first few lines of the body of the email. And so it’s important not to waste those first few lines. Remind them of who you are, where you met or your mutual acquaintance and then cut to the chase. Clearly state why you’re getting in touch, how you or your business could be of benefit and the action you want them to take in response to your email. Everyone’s time is precious and so quickly getting to the point will be appreciated by your reader.

Phone calls

If you’re calling a new contact or prospective client then the same principles apply. Be warm, authentic and courteous in your approach. And keep it brief. Tell them who you are and why your conversation matters. And it’s also a good idea to check with them if now is a good time to talk and if so how much they have to spare. Be sure to stick to that timeline though. And if now isn’t good, then don’t try and force it – just ask them for an alternative time when they will be free to talk.

Networking events

Whether you love them or hate them, networking events are still a key part of the business landscape and so it’s important to take full advantage of the opportunity by making your first impression count. Have some topics for conversation up your sleeve. Try to avoid mundane topics like the weather and steer clear of anything potentially controversial like politics. Have a response prepared to the inevitable ‘what do you do’ type questions that goes beyond your job title and gives a flavour of the benefits you have to offer. Don’t though go into sales mode with a full-on sales pitch as that will put people off.

And if you see someone important you want to meet, then don’t go charging over waving your business card and forcing your way into the conversation. Instead confidently walk over to the individual and if they’re already engaged in conversation, simply catch their eye and wait for a natural break before introducing yourself.

And so creating the right impression could be the difference between a warm, receptive welcome and having the proverbial door closed in your face. Use these tips to put your best foot forward next time you’re hoping to make a good first impression.