Whether it's with a new boss, colleague or client, it's important to know how to make a great first impression with any new business acquaintance. When you meet someone for the first time, you are unconsciously making an instant judgment--processing if this person seems intelligent, friendly, confident and if they can be trusted.

During any initial interaction it's important to come across as likeable and trustworthy, and one of the easiest way to do this is through body language. Here are a few tips to keep in mind during any initial interaction to yield the best possible outcomes:

#1: Make eye contact.

Looking someone in the eye conveys that you are confident and interested in what they have to say.

"Keep good eye contact by looking the person in the eye when he or she is communicating," says Peter Economy, bestselling author of Managing for Dummies. "Keep eye contact going when you speak, because this shows you are interested in the conversation. Watch your eye contact, though--if you don't take breaks to contemplate your next answer, your eye contact could be viewed as staring (translation: aggressive or creepy)."

#2: Smile.

Even a small grin can go a long way. It says "I'm open and approachable"--and that can make you come across as a more magnetic, attractive personality.

Not only does smiling make others feel more comfortable around you, but it also decreases the stress hormones that negatively impact your health, according to numerous studies. Since making a positive first impression often increases stress, smiling is a way to take the edge off.

#3: Raise your eyebrows.

This is a universal sign of respect, and many people don't realize that this slight shift can make a huge difference. Raising your eyebrows acknowledges their presence.

Changing Minds reports that "raising the eyebrows asks for attention from others and can signal general emphasis. When as question is asked and the eyebrows are raised afterwards, this is a clear invitation to answer the question."


Now, it's time to connect, showcase your personality, and give them a reason to pencil you into their schedule. Here are 3 steps to reel them in and make sure your meeting is a memorable one:

#4: Find a way to relate on a personal level.

The secret of expert conversationalists is finding a way to connect to a stranger in a way that seems natural and not forced. The goal during any first encounter is to appear inviting and personable. The person is more likely to let their guard down and truly listen to what you have to say.

"The challenge is to break through and ensure they view you as a colleague--someone 'like them'--rather than a stranger impinging on their time," says Dorie Clark, marketing strategist and teacher at Duke's Fuqua School of Business, in a post for the Harvard Business Review.

#5: Be direct yet sincere.

If you've successfully grabbed their attention, the next--and more challenging--step is to keep it. The most effective way to do this is to get to the point as quickly as possible and keep it simple. Remember that high profile, successful people are also the most busy, so you don't want to waste their time with endless chatter.

According to Mind Tools, "Conversations are based on verbal give and take. It may help you to prepare questions you have for the person you are meeting for the first time beforehand."

In other words, keep it simple and be prepared so you don't run the risk of coming across as insecure or worse, incompetent.

#6: Suggest a brief get-to-know-you meet-up.

Keeping in mind not to appear too aggressive or overeager, the first meeting should be no longer than 15 minutes. Starting small lets them know that you respect their time and it will increase your changes for landing the meeting.

"Time is the new money--no one can afford to give it away carelessly these days," says Clark.

Have you used any of techniques--maybe even unconsciously--when you first meet someone?

Published on: Apr 16, 2015
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