ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Make a Good First Impression Without Saying a Word

Updated on February 10, 2013

The old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Whether you’re meeting an executive for a job interview, a potential client or customer, or a new supervisor just hired at your company, how you come across that first time will shape how the person responds to you in this meeting and how that person perceives you in future encounters.

Like it or not, first impressions frame you in the eyes and mind of others. So, ensuring that you make the most favorable impression that first time is very important. It could make or break your business or job prospects with that person.

In most business situations, the other person has choices. Potential hirers or customers are looking for reasons to narrow their list of prospects, not expand it. They’re on the buyer’s side, not the seller’s, so they ultimately have to decide on one job candidate, one supplier of a certain product or service, one person who’ll manage their account. What you say verbally certainly counts. But so does what you “say” nonverbally.

The three main things to be aware of as you approach a first meeting in professional or career-oriented situations involve your appearance, your nonverbal facial communication, and your body language.

Your goal: To come across as friendly, confident, and capable.

Professional attire and open body language help make a positive first impression.
Professional attire and open body language help make a positive first impression. | Source

Look Like Someone They’d Want to Work With

When you go on a sales call, a marketing pitch, or a job interview, how you look speaks volumes — before you even get to shake hands or say a word.

You want to look like somebody the job interviewer, potential client, or potential customer can feel comfortable with and place confidence in. Both men and women should attend to personal hygiene and cleanliness, get hair trimmed a few days before the big meeting, comb or brush their hair, and dress a cut above what you’d wear at this particular workplace if you worked there.

A rule of thumb is to wear something that makes you look put together for the position of the person you’re meeting. That means asking yourself how the executive you’re meeting with would dress for an outside business meeting or for corporate big-wigs coming into this office for a major meeting.

If you’re going to a business office, dress conservatively. A dark suit for men with a white pressed shirt and subdued colored or patterned tie is a good bet. Shine your dress shoes and wear solid black or navy socks that match your suit. Belt and dress shoes should match each other. Pleated pants shouldn’t be baggy.

For women, a dress, a business-cut suit, or a solid or pinstriped dark or khaki colored skirt with a white or blue blouse and jacket gives a nice, sharp appearance. Hose and heels look professional; bare legs, flip-flops, or sneakers don’t. Clothes should look tailored and not be too tight or revealing.

Like the “less is more” concept, stand out by not standing out in a not-so-good way. If you have a tattoo that’s noticeable, a pierced nose, hair colored some unnatural shade, or some other feature that you wouldn’t see on a model in a Ralph Lauren catalog, it’s to your advantage to cover or camouflage it. You want the other person to think you’re serious about the job or your business — not have their eyes drawn to some unusual feature that costs you credibility points from the first instant.

Eye contact, a smile, and a firm handshake work in your favor.
Eye contact, a smile, and a firm handshake work in your favor. | Source

Your Face Should Say, “I’m Friendly and Assured”

To establish rapport and trust from the outset, your facial expression plays a critical part. The two main aspects here are eye contact and a smile.

You may feel some fear or apprehension, even shyness or lack of self-confidence on the inside. But resolve to overcome this feeling (like the soldier on the battlefield who resolves to go help a buddy in need, despite the danger) and you’ll be fine. And chances are the other person will never know.

First, make eye contact. Look the person with whom you’re meeting in the eye and sustain that eye contact during those crucial first few moments. As a rule of thumb, hold that first eye contact through the handshake and words of introduction and greeting.

During the meeting, it’s okay to look away, perhaps as you take notes. But don’t fail to come back to sustained eye contact throughout the meeting.

Second, smile. Open your lips and let teeth show. Give the other person a genuine smile. This affects how your whole face looks. A smiling, pleasant face invites comfortable conversation, even in the context of a business meeting.

Not smiling upon first meeting works against you. It makes it more challenging to trust you if you scowl or even exhibit no facial expression (which comes across in any number of ways, none of which is flattering or helpful to your purpose).

Looking the other person in the eye and smiling communicate that you’re friendly, self-assured, and yet don’t diminish your professionalism.

Crossed arms and closed body language can send the wrong signal when making a first impression in a job interview or sales visit.
Crossed arms and closed body language can send the wrong signal when making a first impression in a job interview or sales visit. | Source

Your Body Language Should Be Positive, Too

Even if you dress appropriately, sustain eye contact, and smile, your body language should send a message consistent with these other elements of nonverbal communication.

Shake hands firmly and confidently. (That goes for the initial handshake and the handshake when the meeting is ending.)

Stand up straight, using good posture. Stand flat on both feet. Let your arms hang at your sides, relaxed. Maintain an open posture.

Nervous energy can work against you. So, don’t fiddle with your hands or fingers. Don’t jam both hands in your pockets. Don’t cross your arms or turn away from the person you’re meeting with. Don’t slouch.

Putting It All Together

To take advantage of that one-time-only opportunity to make a positive first impression, keep these pointers in mind.

Dress sharp and be sure you look put together, professional, and appropriate.

Look the other person in the eye and smile a genuine smile.

Open up your body language and control any nervous energy.

The combination of these ways of communicating nonverbally will affect how the first meeting and any subsequent meetings go. It really boils down to showing respect to the person you’re meeting and his or her position.

Attire, facial expression, and body language each and together influence how other people perceive you and how much they trust you. Make sure they’re arrows in your quiver, not self-inflicted wound makers.


Submit a Comment
  • lions44 profile image

    CJ Kelly 

    5 years ago from Auburn, WA

    Great tips. I try to study body language as much I can and this is one of the best guides I've found.

  • CarNoobz profile image


    6 years ago from USA

    All useful tips. Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot by walking into an interview late or improperly dressed/groomed. A little confidence goes a long way.

    Voted interesting and useful.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)