How To Leave a Better First Impression

First impressions are still one of the most important parts of the job, and it’s so easy to get them wrong. But once you master it, every part of the job moving forward will be easier as a result.

Leaving a good first impression is a challenge because you only have one chance to get it right. And while failing to do so doesn't spell the end of the business, it does make it a lot harder to impress your clients after stumbling on the first steps.

On the other hand, nailing the first impression makes everything that follows much easier, which is why it's such an important skill to have.

Once a client is on your side from the start, the rest of the job goes much smoother. They will listen to feedback, commit to deadlines, care about your opinion, and overall be a lot more agreeable.

So how do you get clients on your side from the first time you meet them?

Show that you’re prepared

It doesn't matter where your first meeting takes place – whether it's in person or via chat – you should take the opportunity to show that you're prepared.

Listen, be proactive, and provide all the information you can. Remember that in business, the worst kind of meeting is a meeting where nothing is decided.

Try to give your client as much assurance as possible. Don't be pushy, just be inquisitive and try to end the conversation knowing you've given them something to look forward to.

Know what you should (and shouldn’t) say to clients

There are some things you hate to hear. In fact, certain phrases are so triggering that they can cause a reaction even out of context.

For example, has anyone ever told you "No offense, but..." and then proceeded to say something that offended you?

Obviously, this goes far beyond business, but when talking to clients – even more so for the first time – you have to be careful with these types of expressions.

Phrases like "that's not my problem" or "I don't know" should also be avoided. You don't want to redirect responsibility or imply that you don't know something about what should otherwise be your area of expertise.

And while it's only human to not know everything, you want to give your potential clients as much assurance as possible, especially in your first interaction.

Learn more about what you should and should NOT say to clients!

Get a unique email address

Nothing screams amateur more than an email comprised of your abbreviated name and a few numbers. It's not that hard to get yourself a custom email address and although it's not free, it's a small investment that does wonders for your first impression.

Besides, with your custom email address, you can come up with a name that's easy to remember, spell, and type – which is a trap that many still fall for.

Make your email address as short as possible and if possible, without repeated letters that make it easy to type incorrectly.

To get you started, you can check website builders like Squarespace and WIX, as both of them offer plans with custom email addresses. But Google also offers the service for a fee.

Get a work number for your smartphone

Using your personal number to start a business is a huge problem – for you and your clients.

Mostly for you though because your phone will become a mess of calls and messages from unknown numbers, let alone the annoyance of it ringing outside of business hours.

This would make it difficult to even know how to answer it. Imagine you called a pro and they answered the phone with a dry or even annoyed "Yeah?"

Get yourself a new number strictly for business and if possible, even a separate phone for it. At the very least, you can use a smartphone that allows for two numbers, because that would allow you to know easily from which number the call is coming from, which would already help.

Reply to messages like a pro

There's definitely merit to loosening up with clients and not acting so formal all the time, but it's a tight rope.

You don't have to be stiff, but at the same time, you shouldn't step over some boundaries and that also applies to the way you reply to messages.

In many businesses nowadays, chat messages are the first form of contact clients have with a pro. Try to write clearly and without mistakes, without abusing emojis or informal punctuation.

I highly recommend an extension like Grammarly to check your grammar and spelling as you type, but even the built-in browser spell-checking is enough to avoid the most obvious mistakes.

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