How to Make a Good Impression… or Fake a Good Impression

Whoever claims the credit for writing the quote, “You never get a second chance to make a great first impression,” was definitely onto something big. First impressions truly are everything, especially when you’re working in the world of Advertising and Public Relations and are meeting new clients and new people everyday. As a college student who often has a busy schedule and is flooded with a million ideas a minute, it sometimes is hard to realize at first how important it really is to leave a lasting quality impression on a client. But at the end of the day, that first impression could get a client to sign on the dotted line to work with you, could help your team to trust you and ultimately could land you an internship or a full-time job in the near future. Within Jacht, our student run advertising agency, I’ve truly learned in a short period of time the importance of making a quality first impression and here are a few pointers to help you do the same.

Show confidence in every situation. Even if you have no idea who your client is or who the person is that you’re meeting with, act confident and that confidence will help the client to feel welcomed and important. One of the biggest things, that I believe has helped me to succeed in making first impressions with clients at Jacht is going into it with confidence, even if I might not have any idea what the organization does that the people represent or what their goals are going to be working with Jacht. A strong handshake, a smile and a welcoming attitude goes a long way when you’re making a good first impression. Not only will this help with client relations later on, but showing confidence initially will go a long way later down the road.

Talk about the client’s brand. Even if you just got thrown into a situation where you’re meeting a client for the first time, try to prepare as much as you can before the meeting, even if it’s only within a ten minute window. It’s extremely important to talk to the client about their brand. If you show that you know anything about their brand, tie that into the conversation. For example, with a newer client, I was able to quickly look over website and gain a little bit of knowledge about their brand. I started the conversation with this specific client off by asking, “I saw a lot of information on your website and like where you’re going with trying to sell your product, but can you tell me a little bit more about your brand as a whole, your mission, etc. in case I missed anything?” This not only showed my client that I was already engaged with what they were doing, but that I cared about learning as much as I could about their brand. Gaining as much information as you can about an organization, business or startup before deciding if you want to work with them is extremely important. This not only will help members of your creative and research team to develop a specific brand position for the organization you’re working with, but it will also make you seem so much more knowledgeable in your first meeting.

Ask questions. As straightforward as that may seem, one of the best things that you can do when you’re in a client meeting, trying to make a quality first impression to have them work with you is to ask them questions. It’s almost a guarantee that they will have questions for you and everyone else who’s in the meeting, but engaging them with questions is a selling point for a good first impression and a quality client meeting. One of the most important questions you can ask a client, I’ve found, is “What are you hoping to get out of working with Jacht?” and “What is the biggest thing that Jacht can help you to achieve?” Asking very specific, but pointed questions to a client shows that you are engaged in the meeting, but also will leave them knowing that you truly care about the work that you’ll be doing for them and ensures that it’s not all about the numbers and the money at the end of the meeting. Asking questions of the client also can help you to formulate better and more specific ideas to convey to a client during your first initial meeting.

Talk about solid ideas and have specific strategies in the back of your pocket to talk about. If a client comes to you saying, “I’m not sure what Jacht is, but I hope you can help me to create a new logo for our organization,” it’s up to you to make sure they know you’re going to follow through with that and explain how you’ll do that. Have a few examples of ways that you’ve worked with clients in the past, know specific ways to tackle problems. For example, if a client is seeking help with social media, have a few strategies that you can talk about that worked for clients that are similar to them. It’s also extremely important to always be able to talk about how you’re going to develop a project from start to finish. This is also a great opportunity to talk about the importance of developing and applying research specific to the client.

Over communicate. After you’ve had a meeting with a client, follow up with a thank-you email and an overview or summary of what you’ve talked about. This not only keeps them accountable, but helps to show that you were engaged with a client throughout the meeting and were attentive to their needs and wants. This also is something so important to do that adds into the impression the client had of you during the meeting and after. Another important thing to do is always communicate questions, ideas and other things that may come up from your creative team even before a client has completely signed on to work with you.

Fake it ’til you make it. Even if you have no idea what you’re talking about, who the client is or what you potentially could be doing for them, it’s important to show and act like you know what you’re doing, even if you might not 100% of the time. Chances are a client is seeking your help and advice because they don’t know what is best for their organization or business. If you’re able to communicate things that you know that have worked in the past, chances are they will be believe you. Even if you have to go back later on and correct some of the things that you said in a meeting, that’s better than not throwing out any ideas at all. Another good pointer for this is that if you don’t know the answer to a question, tell them about someone who would and direct that question to them, follow up and provide them with a quality answer after a meeting.

If you’re able to follow these specific guidelines, I guarantee you that you will not only make a lasting first impression, but will come out of a client meeting leaving your client stunned that you are a young professional, but seem like you have years of experience. Leaving an impression that’s good on a client will help you so much in the future and will pay off in the end.