When you meet an agent or editor for the first time you actually have less time than you think to make a good first impression. According to Nicholas Boothman you have less than 90 seconds to make a good impression. If you were not nervous before I bet you are now. You are probably thinking you should be judged solely on the quality of your work aren’t you? I agree but in the real world we are judged by our appearance and manner. Most of which is totally unconscious.
There is no need to be nervous, anxious or nauseous, although chances are you may be, if you go into a meeting prepared. Most importantly, know yourself, know what you want and know what the interviewer wants.
Tips for Making a Good Impression in a Few Minutes
- Bathe. This may seem like a given but you would be surprised how many people show up for an interview without having a shower. Do not have it the night before. Have it first thing in the morning to invigorate yourself and add a glow to your cheeks. Wash your hair and get yourself smelling all fresh (but do not douse yourself in perfume, one squirt only please).
- Brush and floss teeth. Use mouth wash and carry mints. You might want to carry a mini toothbrush, paste and mouthwash in your bag if you have an all day schedule.
- Do not over or under dress. Black is cool and confident and is always professional. Add a splash of color with it, red or a bright blue.
- Wear nice looking but comfortable shoes. No sandals and bare feet please unless the weather truly calls for it. If you must wear sandals make sure they are professional looking. No thongs or flip flops!
- Bring a bottle of water for dry mouth but do not drink so much you will have to pee.
- Keep crackers in your bag for tummy rumbles or nausea.
- Shake hands. Offer your hand and shake with full hand. Do not just grab the tips of their fingers as if they just sneezed on their hands.
- Make eye contact but do not stare.
- Smile, do not grin.
- Make sure your pitch is short, concise and well practiced. Include the basics only. Leave time for the interviewer to ask questions and interact.
- Do not be late and do not run overtime it shows a lack of respect.
- Have extra business cards with name of book on back and date when you met written on the back.
One final tip, if you spend a lot of time alone it is important to make sure you plan a lot of day trips the week before your meeting. Get out and talk to people as much as possible to get your verbal juices going. Chat up the grocery store clerk, your hair dresser, the librarian. Anyone you can strike up a conversation with.
These simple tips will help prepare you for making your pitch and give you the added confidence of feeling prepared and presentable to a potential agent or editor.
Check out this quick read on making a good first impression by Nicholas Boothman: