First Impressions – Severn Valley Business Group

First Impressions

| Posted in Other Stuff


What impression do we make on people when they first meet us? We are all out there representing our business’s whether they are big or small, and how people perceive us when we  first contact them will often play a big part in whether they will decide to do business with us or not. So what are the different ways we contact people when building our businesses?

  • E-mail
  • Phone
  • Picking up our business cards/ literature
  • Face to face
  • Social Media and websites

Let’s start with e-mail:

Key points to think about:

  • Have an e-mail with a domain name. With the cost of domain names now being so low you should be using this option as they come with free email services. This looks so much more professional than having a hotmail or gmail address. If you don’t use your domain name for instance if you don’t have a web site, you can still use the domain name and have them forwarded to your gmail, outlook or hotmail account.
  • How you word your first contact e-mail is crucial to establishing the image you are creating for your business. Tailor it to the impression you want to make on that person. Generic e-mails usually get ignored.
  • Make sure you use spell check on your e-mails and grammar check too. If you are sending e-mails from phones PLEASE double check if you use predictive text.
  • Your signature and business info at the end of the e-mail should include links to all your social media outlets: facebook, twitter, linked in etc and of course a link direct to your website so the recipient can click straight across to check you out further.

Phone calls:

  • Always sound friendly and efficient, no matter how busy or preoccupied you are. If you don’t have the time to listen for a few minutes, don’t pick up. That doesn’t mean you have to have the conversation with them then, it just means you have to take a couple of minutes to listen and sound interested and keen to help and then politely explain the situation you are in and arrange a mutually convenient time to ring them back to discuss everything in detail. Then ring them when you said you would. If they don’t answer that’s not your fault you have already proved yourself to be reliable and can leave a friendly message with your details asking them to contact you at a convenient time and that if they haven’t managed to call you you will try again…. have a meeting, book a meeting, you are giving yourself permission to call them again.
  • If you have an answerphone message when you are not available make sure it is friendly and inviting so they want to call back again. Leave all your details clearly including your name and the name of your business so they are clear they have called the right person in the first place. Ask them to leave their details specifying phone number and e-mail so you can get back to them. Confirming you will call them back. If they have phoned you they want to speak to you not receive an e-mail from you…. that is your last resort….
  • The alternative is have a call minding service. If people have called you from a list of businesses dealing in what you do they may just carry on down the list and you may lose the business. Depending their personalities many people want to speak to people not machines or e-mails.
  • The same obviously applies if you are calling a prospective client for the first time. Make sure you have time to talk, and ask them if this is a convenient time for them. If not when is best for you to call back. People appreciate you showing consideration and will be much more open to speaking to you if you show them you know their time is important.

Business cards/information:

  • If you do not have time to speak to a prospect or they have just asked for your card or business literature that card, brochure or leaflet has got to do the talking for you so needs to be totally relevant to your business. If you want to portray your business as a quality successful business you need quality cards. They need to explain who you are and what you do concisely and contain all the information someone needs to contact you by whichever means they want to. All of this without your card looking crowded or gimmicky so it is always good to get advice from those who know how to create quality cards.
  • The same applies to business literature. If you are using photos make sure they are good quality and are relevant to the information, and keep wording concise and to the point.
  • It goes without saying really all business stationery you give out needs to be in pristine condition, not dog-eared or out of date. This implies you are not keeping on top of your business.

Social Media and Websites

  • As they say on X factor, Keep it relevant, keep it current. Keep blogs and tweets up to date and interesting. Put time aside at the beginning of each week to set your social media up for the rest of the week if that is the best way for you or time each day to keep on top of it. Again James can give you guidance on this if it is all gobbledygook to you.
  • If you are using photos go for originality rather than stock images. Keep your website fresh and up to date but easy to navigate.

I am going to leave this section now as it is something I am particularly bad at and there are lots of people in this group who can give you all the info you need on the social media side.

Face to Face:

My favourite bit!


For some people this is really easy, for others it is the bit they dread. Meeting new people.

The first seven seconds in which you meet somebody, according to science, is when you’ll make a “first impression.” So, whether it’s for an event, a business development meeting, or any other professional setting, you have to act very quickly in order to make the proper first impression. In order to have a great meeting and be remembered in the right way–while cementing your reputation–here are some important tips:

  1. Smile

Facial expressions are very important when it comes to making a good first impression. Who doesn’t want their personal brand to be associated with positivity?

Smile.Your smile is the most memorable feature after first meeting someone. It needs to be genuine and reach the eyes as well as the lips. We have all met people who’s smile looks totally fake. Think nice thoughts and practice if it doesn’t come naturally to you. It doesn’t have to be a grin from ear to ear, even a small one makes people feel you are friendly. It makes people feel more comfortable around you and also decreases your stress hormones which can take the edge off if you are feeling nervous..

  1. Handshake

The handshake is accepted internationally as a professional sign of politeness. A proper handshake can convey confidence. This again is not straightforward, you want to walk the line between a squeeze that comes across as incredibly tight and the dreaded limp fish. Ladies are particularly good at the limp fish! As a business woman I like to shake hands but men often do not know if they should offer me their hand or not so I always make the first move and offer mine to save embarrisment and awkward silences.

  1. Make Eye Contact

Looking someone in the eye conveys that you are confident and interested in what they have to say. In Western countries it is also seen as a sign of respect. However a piercing stare through the whole of the conversation is not good and can indeed be alarming as can flicking to and from the eyes too often. You need to hit a happy medium that shows you are interested in what they are saying. DO NOT hold a conversation looking over the persons shoulder… lots of people do this. It immediately tells that person you would much rather be talking to someone else more interesting… not good

  1. Look your best..

Make sure that what you are wearing says what you want it to say to the people you are meeting for the first time. Dress to either stand out or blend in. Great first impressions can be made both ways, and your answer to this question will depend on what your intentions are and your own comfort level. Either way, pay attention to the details of your outfit.

  1. Introductions

You want your first seven seconds with somebody to be productive, “If someone introduces themselves to you with a simple “Hi I’m Jan, be proactive: with something like “Great to meet you Jan. I’m Steve,” instead of just saying, “Hi, I’m Steve,” something as simple as that shows you are friendly and open. It also re-enforces the persons name in your brain. If they give their surname and it’s not easy you can always ask where it comes from or practice pronouncing it. Much better than getting it wrong next time you meet them. If you didn’t hear it properly or forget it before the end of the conversation don’t be afraid to ask again unless you have already exchanged cards then you will already have it. Peoples names are very important to them.

  1. Speak Clearly

Many people have wonderful things to say but don’t speak with any confidence. Unfortunately, that’s a great way to wind up getting overlooked. You want to be able to portray yourself in a positive light and give whomever you’re meeting a reason to listen to you. Don’t overcorrect and get too loud, either: studies have indicated that those who talk in a deeper voice, and more calmly, are taken more seriously. Work out the best way to describe what you do in an interesting way but concisely and leave the door open for questions if people are interested.

      7. Use the 4 magic words:

” and how about you?” You are looking to find out about this person to build a relationship. Everyone likes to talk about themselves, you will leave a much better impression of yourself if you let them talk and you listen rather than be thinking about the next clever thing you can say to them. People know if you are genuinely interested.

     8. Give Compliments that encourage conversation

With what I do it is easy to identify a person’s best feature, a nice item of clothing or a piece of jewellery they are wearing. “That’s a great hair style/colour, do you get it done locally? I find it very easy to get into conversations whether I meet people at networking or in a queue in the supermarket. Even if I never see that person again I will leave a good impression and if I do meet them again they will remember me.

     9. Use Body language

One interesting thing about human psychology: most of us instinctively mirror each other’s body language. So when another person sees you smiling, they will often smile in response. Mirroring goes both ways; if you pick up on and reflect back the non-verbal cues of the person you’re speaking with, it sends a non-verbal message that you feel what they feel. Research shows that people who experience the same emotions are likely to experience mutual trust, connection and understanding.

Mirroring body language is a non-verbal way of saying “we have something in common.” When people say that someone gives off good energy, they’re not just indulging in some New Age beliefs; they’re describing mirroring.


If I can help anyone in any way with making that good first impression please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Jan Winter

Telephone: 01584 781601/07789 686833



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