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Always time for a first impression

When you first meet someone, they form a "first impression" of you. It takes just a quick glance for someone to evaluate you, and form an opinion about you. This can be based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed.

With every new encounter, you are evaluated and yet another person's impression of you is formed. These first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, and they set the tone for the relationship that follows.

More importantly, many first impressions are completely wrong.

So it's important to consider your first impression, and present the person you want them to see. Take a moment before attending a meeting, or make a phone call. Build a clear understanding of your message, how to communicate that message. Think about how you are going to present yourself, how you will appear to the other person.

MindTools has nine tips on making a great first impression:

  1. Be on time.
  2. Be yourself, be at ease.
  3. Present yourself appropriately.
  4. Express your individuality.
  5. Smile.
  6. Be open and confident.
  7. Use small talk to build a relationship.
  8. Be positive.
  9. Be courteous and attentive.

While MindTools advises to show up on time, that's not always possible. When I'm short on time to make the next meeting, I always take a few minutes before I step into the room, to collect my thoughts. I believe it's better to be a little late to a meeting and appear confident, than to show up on time but seem lost and unsure. If you are late, don't make an excuse. No one wants to hear your story. Acknowledge that you're late ("Sorry I'm late") then move on.