by Steve Adubato, PhD

The TD Bank / Star-Ledger “Road to Personal Wealth Financial Conference” is only a couple of weeks away on November 3. As readers of this column know, a few weeks back I touched on the subject of making a positive first impression, which I will be speaking on at that conference.

But making a positive first impression is more than having a genuine smile and a firm handshake, as well as having interest in others and asking good questions. (All subjects I touched on in that first column.)

With this in mind, consider some additional first impression tips and tools that you should keep in mind regardless of your profession:

--Never brag. Seriously, the irony here is that some people think that the best way to make a good first impression is to try to impress someone by talking about all of your business success. This couldn’t be further from the truth. No one wants to hear you talk about how great you are. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The way to make a really good first impression is to make the other person feel really good about himself or herself, which is why I’m such a big advocate of asking about the other person and THEIR business. So, even if you are tempted to go into your resume or canned elevator speech about what you think makes you so great, don’t do it because it will not make the impression you were hoping for.

--Eye contact matters. After you greet someone with a firm handshake and a nice smile, make sure you maintain steady eye contact. I’m not talking about staring like a deer in the headlights, but make sure that you are looking directly at the person you’ve just met. One of the biggest mistakes people make upon first meeting someone is to look past him or her in an effort to “check out” others in the room. When the person you are talking with sees you doing this, it makes a terrible impression. I’ve said it in this column before, but it bears repeating. People may often forget what you’ve said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

--Be on time. This is something I continue to work on. No matter how prepared I am for a speech, a seminar or a meeting, if I walk in five minutes late, it just doesn’t make a good first impression. It doesn’t matter that we have three small children at home or that I got stuck in New Jersey traffic. When you are meeting people for the first time, especially in the world of business, it is essential that we do everything possible to show up just a few minutes early. It sends a powerful message that we take this experience seriously. I’m not saying you can’t overcome being late by delivering in a big way, however, the initial impression you make is not the best.

--Everything in moderation. I’m talking jewelry, cologne, hair, clothing, makeup, etc. Think about it. If you meet someone for the first time at a business meeting, and the most powerful impression you get is the overwhelming smell of his or her perfume or cologne combined with big, gaudy jewelry, it is going to take you a while to focus on what he or she is actually saying. Don’t let that person be you. Nothing about your appearance or your persona should distract from the first words that come out of your mouth. Making a positive first impression is hard enough, so remember, everything in moderation.