First impressions only take place once, so you want to make sure you’re ready to go the first time you meet a potential client. The first meeting will generally set the tone for the working relationship, so it’s imperative that you become an expert as far as mastering the meet and greet. In order to make sure that your first meeting goes well, there are a number of guidelines you should abide by.

Be respectful

Be mindful of your surroundings. If you meet a client at his home then knock on the door. If you ring the doorbell then you could potentially wake up someone that is sleeping. You should also wait to be invited in so people don’t think that you are intruding on their space. Moreover, you should offer to take your shoes off before entering in case they don’t allow shoes in the house.

Once inside, if offered a non-alcoholic drink then either accept it or ask for water. Some may find it offensive if they go out of their way to offer you something only to have it declined.

Be confident

When you meet somebody for the first time, it’s important that you carry yourself with confidence. The handshake is a very important part of a person’s first impression of you. When shaking hands, be sure to grip firmly and maintain eye contact. There’s no need to be overly aggressive with the handshake, but you definitely don’t want to start off a working relationship with a “dead fish.” A weak handshake will show that you are perhaps not confident in yourself, which is a major detriment.

Keep eye contact up throughout the majority of the meeting. You don’t necessarily have to stare them down, but your eyes should be on theirs for a good 80%-90% of the time. Also, make sure to smile. Eye contact is all well and good, but if you’re frowning or have a disinterested look on your face then your potential client could lose interest in the meeting.

Set a friendly tone

Considering this is your first time meeting the potential client, you should take some time to get to know them. Throw out some icebreakers or engage in a little bit of small talk before diving into business. People tend to want to work with people that they can hold a conversation with. Nevertheless, there are some taboo subjects that you should stay away from. For instance, it’s in poor taste to discuss sex, politics or religion with a potential client, even if they bring it up first. If they do happen to bring it up, then politely change the subject.

Try to find a comfortable place to speak with the prospective client. People are generally more relaxed and willing to have a good conversation in a place where they feel comfortable, whether it’s the kitchen table or living room sofa.

If done properly, the meet and greet can set the tone for a great working relationship. As long as you follow these simple guidelines, you should be good to go.