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Pro tips on how to make a lasting first impression

Learn how to make a strong first impression with these tips from a corporate etiquette guru, Penny Edge

  • Making eye contact is the best way to buildrapport with people you have just met. Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • A woman’s handshake should be firm and confident, just like a man’s. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Be memorable... “When you enter a room, move to the right. This will show you’re confident with the situation. When shaking hands, stand tall, smile and make eye contact. This gives the impression that you are genuine, confident and feel comfortable. When giving someone your business card, tell a story about the card, or the information that is on it. For example, ‘My card shows an old hospital where I was born’. They may forget your name, but they will remember the story.”

Don’t stare them out... “Eye contact shows you are listening, so make eye contact, but don’t stare. Avoid looking to the side of the person when talking to them – this indicates disinterest in them, or the subject they are talking about.”

Speak with your whole body...
“Women tend to move all of their body when talking, while men tend to just move the arms independently from the trunk of the body. Also, women often gesture with their fingers apart and use curved hand movements, whereas men gesture with their fingers together and point. Women are more subtle with their body language and take up less personal space, however men tend to take up more room than women and often invade people’s personal space. Being aware of these things will make women come across as more confident.”

The handshake... “A woman’s handshake should be firm and confident, like a man’s – really there is no difference. If a woman wishes to be more assertive, she should step in with the right foot at the time of the handshake.”

First impression no-no’s... “Standing with your hands in your pockets gives the impression you’re not interested. Fiddling with clothing or hair gives the impression you’re preoccupied and not involved in the interaction. A pet hate of mine is jingling change in pockets. Also, swaying from side to side and generally moving about shows you are eager to leave the conversation. Another no-no is crumpled clothes or dirty shoes, which indicate that a person may lack attention to detail.”

Adapt to your surroundings...
“In a new situation or with people you don’t know, listen more than you speak at first, as this will indicate how you should approach the person.”

Dress the part... “Clothes should be smart, clean, smell fresh and be ironed. On the ladies’ and gentlemen’s courses, we give tips on how to give the best impression through your clothing. We address how accessories, jewellery, belts, bags and shoes all say something about you and how to choose the right ones for the impression you want to make. We look at details such as the width of a pinstripe for different shapes of gentlemen and how to dress for different body types.”

Look immaculate... “Good grooming is absolutely essential. Kempt ladies and gentlemen will be remembered. I can remember a competitor having chipped nail varnish and they weren’t awarded a contract. In the world of television, if you don’t have well-groomed nails, it is frowned upon.”

Believe in yourself... “Confidence comes from within. When you get that right, what is on the outside fits into place. So the golden rule is to be confident about who you are and believe in yourself.”


Inside Info

Penny Edge provides corporate etiquette courses in the UAE through SO Famous. For more information, visit, email
or call 04-4519160.