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The Role of Etiquette in Business First Impressions

The Role of Etiquette in Business First Impressions

In business, as in private life, first impressions matter. We make assessments about people when we first see them. We let our eyes roam about their clothes, face, physique, and we also use their words and body movements to form our initial opinion about them. Naturally, some of these first impressions get a second chance to be revised, but a large percentage of them don’t.

Your potential business partners and customers will also draw conclusions from your first meeting, so if you don’t want to ruin a great opportunity, you need to consider how you present yourself. To help you leave a killer first impression, here are a few pointers to consider.

Know Who You are Meeting

If you are interested in potential cooperation with the people you are meeting, you really want to learn as much as you can about them prior to the meeting. Coming to a meeting unprepared may make you look unprofessional from their angle or they may get offended. Inform yourself about their company, their current and previous positions, and some personal interests of theirs.

There are other reasons why those pieces of information may come in handy. For instance, if you show an understanding of them, you may impress and win over your customers or clients faster. In addition to that, some information can also be an ace in your sleeve, something that can be your bargaining chip. You will feel much more confident knowing details that are relevant so you will be able to represent your business better by appealing to their specific personality or interests. All in all, conducting research related to the people you are meeting is always a useful strategy.

The Question of Tardiness

Tardiness is not looked kindly upon in the business world. The polite thing is to show up 10-15 minutes early and wait until they are available to meet with you. If you are meeting on neutral ground, arriving earlier is also in order, while from the perspective of a host, it would be immensely rude to keep your guests waiting for you.

Even if you have traveled abroad and you don’t know the city well, you need to plan ahead and check out the public transport or better yet, opt for Avis car hire to get you wherever the meeting will be held. If you arrive too early, you can use that time to go over your notes, drink some water, fix your hair or clothes, or simply get settled so you can feel more relaxed and comfortable. In the event something has happened causing you to be late, the respectful thing to do is to phone or email them to explain the situation and to reschedule the meeting or move it a bit.

Mind Your Clothes

They say that clothes don’t make the man, but that man or woman’s professionalism will surely be assessed based on their clothes. Look at it this way: do you want to partner up with someone who comes to a meeting disheveled, wearing flip-flops, and complaining of a hangover? Your first impression would be that such an appearance and behavior are unprofessional, and you would instantly doubt that person’s expertise.

Both women and men should go for a clean, crisp look, with presentable shoes as well because dirty shoes would ruin the impression you are trying to leave. Stick to simple and neat hairdos, and ensure your hands are neat as well because you will be shaking hands and gesturing. Also, it is good to wear a bit of perfume or cologne, as long as it is not too strong.

Nonverbal Communication Matters

What you say is of great importance, but what you don’t intend to say with your actions is even more important. You may be saying that your company has been growing steadily, but if you are fidgeting and looking everywhere but towards the interlocutor, they might get the impression that you are not being completely honest. The nonverbal part of the conversation is important because you might give away a wrong impression if your actions seem inconsistent with what you say.

You should always sit straight and only lean slightly towards the interlocutor. Look at them, but avoid piercing eye contact because that would make anyone uncomfortable. Use hand gestures to make a point when it is your time to speak, but don’t turn into a human windmill since that can be distracting and you may appear nervous. Scrolling through Instagram posts or being on a device while somebody is speaking is a big no-no and comes off as disrespectful. The course of action is to be moderate and polite and act towards others in the same manner you wish to be treated.

Regardless of whether you are meeting a prospective client, customer, or supplier, you probably want to leave a good impression. If you prepare for it with the above-mentioned elements in mind, you are sure to ace the meeting.


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by Derek Lotts // Derek Lotts is an Advisory Editor at Smooth Decorator and writes about decor, gardening, recycling, ecology and everything related to home improvement. He believes in the power of sharing ideas and communicating via the internet to achieve betterment.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.