First Impressions (by Kathy McShane) Guest Blogger

McShane book_First Impressions impact all pubic speaking and communication. Read about First Impressions in an Excerpt from The Survivor’s Guide for Female Entrepreneurs, by Guest  Blogger  Kathy McShane We only have one chance to make a first impression. And that first impression can mean everything as you set out to make your mark in the business world. According to, a website providing free career skills and management techniques, it takes just a quick glance – maybe three seconds – for someone to evaluate you when you first meet, and this first impression is unlikely to change. So it’s important to think about the impression you want to leave. After all, as a small business owner, you are the face of your business.

When making that all-important first impression, keep these ideas in mind:

Body language speaks volumes. People you meet for the first time will pay as much attention to your body language as they will to your words. In fact, you’ll be judged by your body language before you even open your mouth. Be sure to uncross your arms and have an easy, ready smile at all times. Straighten your posture and offer a strong handshake.

Dress for the occasion. Find out what the “dress code” is at the location where you’ll be meeting people and plan appropriately. Choose an outfit that will complement your personality, boost your confidence and feel comfortable. Don’t wear a suit if you’re visiting a high-tech company, and don’t wear blue jeans to a bank. One business owner, hoping to seal a $24 million deal, was in competition with two other groups. The potential client told them all to dress in summer casual. The two competitors dressed in pinstriped suits. Guess who got the deal?

Be in the moment. Pay attention to the people you are meeting. Greet them with a firm handshake, look them in the eye and smile. Repeat their names as a way of remembering. Before going into the meeting or event, turn off digital devices.

Be engaged. Become immediately engaged in your discussion with the other person. Make sure to mention his or her name at least once during your conversation. This shows that you are interested and that you’ve paid attention.

Don’t interrupt. Unfortunately, people talk over each other and interrupt all the time. It may have to do with the digital age that we live in, which makes us feel that everything has to be responded to immediately. It’s easy to text or email while the other person is doing the same; in effect, you are engaged with your device and not with the person. When you are meeting someone face to face, however, be sure the other person is finished speaking before you begin to add to the conversation. Allow yourself to take a breath and process the previous comments. The silence may seem like forever, but it’s usually only a few seconds.

Throughout our journey as entrepreneurs, we will meet a lot of people and make many connections. And every connection gives us only one chance to make a great first impression. Be sure to make the most of it!