You have just one chance to impress a prospective client during a first meeting. In fact, research shows that people make judgments about others within less than a second of a first encounter, sealing your fate before you even open your mouth. So how can you make sure your body language gets you off on the right footing and ensures you win over your client to close the deal? First off, check your appearance. Dress to impress, polish your shoes, and keep hair and nails well groomed. But keep it industry-appropriate. Enter the room with confidence. Smile, make eye contact, and initiate a firm handshake. A genuine smile makes other people smile, too, and that creates mutual good feelings instantly. If your client is entering your space, get up from behind your desk and walk around to greet them. While you make your pitch, be sure to read your client’s body language. Look for signs of restlessness or boredom; the “cut to the chase, I’d rather be anywhere but here” look implied by a set jawline, arms crossed defensively, poker face, eyes averted, and constant watch-checking. Tune into anxious foot tapping and knee jiggling. These cues suggest you’re getting it wrong. Give your client your undivided attention. Lean forward and nod appropriately to demonstrate active listening. Make the right amount of eye contact — too much eye contact can be unsettling for some people — and try mirroring the person’s posture and facial expressions to build rapport. Encourage relaxed mirroring from your client by adopting an open posture with legs uncrossed and arms open. The correct use of body language inspires confidence and puts others at ease. You gain instant credibility if prospective clients like what they see, feel they can relate to you, and find you approachable. Create a positive, lasting first impression and you’re more likely to win your client’s trust, respect, and business.