First Impressions = Lasting Benefits

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one hand shaking hands with a dead fish
Dead Fish, Dead Prospect

You’ve arranged a big meeting with a catering executive that could net you plenty of work. The next thing you need to do is make a great first impression. Here’s how:

Adhere to the dress code by anticipating what the exec will be wearing. General rule: research the facility’s clientele, and then adhere to it, but take it to the next level. “Accessories are how a man separates himself from the average-dressed,” says Devon Devlin, owner and chief style consultant for Dev2 LLC. “And that means tailored clothes, shined shoes, and socks that cover the shin.”

Manners: The man who says: “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Good morning,” etc, not only demonstrates a sense of chivalry. “It also shows that you have the confidence to use manners.”

Knot: There are many ways to knot a tie, but only one way to wear it: beneath the knot there should be a dimple or an arc. “A tie shouldn’t lay flat against the shirt, it should have life,” says Dev, who advises sticking your index finger underneath the knot as you’re tightening it. “It’s a high level technique that will step your game up.”

Handkerchief: You need only worry about two types: “The square TV fold that you see news anchors wear, or just ball it up and stuff it in the pocket.” The TV fold says you pay attention to details; the latter says you’re a bit more creative.

The pump: Handshake rule: No more than two or three pumps up and down. “Any less and you seem insecure or standoffish; any more than that and you’re perceived as overbearing.”

Eye of the tiger: Look at the person’s left eye, right eye, and then the forehead. “This way, you don’t get caught gazing into one eye, which will make the other person feel uncomfortable.”

Slow down: Moving and talking slowly will make you seem more confident. “Move too fast and you’ll seem insecure. Slow down your gestures and people will think you’re more powerful.”

Rearrange: If the meeting is over lunch or dinner, move your wine glass from one side of the plate to the other when you sit down, or move the plate half an inch. “It’s a subliminal thing—you’re saying you’re comfortable in your space, claiming a subtle sense of ownership.”