First impressions

October 2020

What can you do to make a good first impression? Training Link provides some top tips.

You and your business have less time than you might imagine to make a positive first impression. Perhaps it is important to remember: “A different version of you exists in the minds of everyone who knows you.”

First impressions are hugely important, especially in a business environment, but do you know how much (or little) time you have to actually make one? Within the first seven seconds of meeting someone for the first time, they would have already formed a solid impression of who you are (rightly or wrongly).

When determining traits like trustworthiness, there is some research to suggest it’s even less – just a tenth of a second!

When you are meeting potential clients for the first time, or attending a networking event or branch meeting, what can you do to make a good first impression?

Make the most of your initial meeting

There are many situations when making a first impression counts, but let’s start with the most common: meeting someone in person, whether it’s meeting a prospective client, or attending a networking event (it will happen again!).

It should go without saying, but you need to dress and groom appropriately.

By this, I don’t mean you must wear your “go to” power suit every time; the occasion would largely determine the dress code.

That being said, regardless of the occasion, people will judge you on your looks long before they judge your words or actions.

It only takes a fraction of a second to start making initial assumptions; we all do it, so why should it be different when someone spots you for the first time?

The stark reality is, like it or not, there will be certain expectations placed on our appearance (clothing, hair, makeup etc.) in terms of professional events, so dressing appropriately for the event will start you off on the right foot.

A smile is a powerful thing! When you smile at someone, it has a disarming effect. You appear more approachable and trustworthy. A warm smile within those first seven seconds might be all it takes to forge a stronger first impression.

Remember too that it’s not what you say, but how you say it. When speaking to someone for the first time, it’s all about the quality of your speech rather than the quantity. At any initial encounter, don’t concern yourself too much about sharing vast swathes of information as quickly as possible.

This might seem like a great way to impress people, but it’s more likely to overwhelm them, making them shut off from you. Instead, speak slowly and clearly. This will result in you being practical help more articulate and will give your listener more time to digest what you’re saying.

Speaking slowly and deliberately is also a sign of confidence, which is central to making a good first impression. In some instances, less really is more!

A good posture also conveys confidence, strengthening your first impression. Maintaining it might also increase your own feelings of confidence, giving you more confidence in your interactions.

Presenting your website

While an office space is important, it is not necessarily your store front; more and more bookkeeping and accounting businesses now exist primarily in a digital environment, with your website being a key component of forming a first impression.

Website visitors will only give you a few seconds of their time before making a quick assessment about staying or leaving, so keep things concise. Site visitors may form an impression of your site in as little as 50 milliseconds. A clear, concise heading or tagline should let prospective clients know exactly what they can expect from the rest of your content.

Make your website intuitive to use. If a new visitor is confused in the first few seconds, they’re going to leave.

Photos and videos are very powerful tools, so if you can use them, do so (with caution!)

50 milliseconds may not be long enough to guarantee even a tagline will be read, but humanising your brand by including photos or videos can help.

“Why (with caution)?” I hear you ask… People will easily see through generic, non-specific content, so if you’re going to use photos and/or videos, make sure they’re relevant and personal to you and your brand.

No matter how you’re forming a first impression with your clients and contacts, it’s important to work quickly to avoid facing the consequences of a negative or non-existent first impression. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll become, and the more you prepare for your future interactions, the more targeted your approach can be.

•Thanks to Training Link for this article. For more great articles go to