You only get one chance to leave a good first impression — but if you mess that up, you still have the chance to leave an amazing lasting impression.
This method is arguably even more important than the first impression, whoever it is you’re speaking to — a future employer, a new client, or even a first date — will walk away feeling better about themselves and about you than before your conversation.
We spoke to a handful of professional etiquette coaches, hiring managers, and business owners to get their best tips on how to leave a lasting good impression — a little effort is all it takes for your conversation to stick with whoever it is you want to impress.
Of course, a quick way to ensure a lasting good impression is to shake their hand at the end of the meeting. “When you shake someone’s hands it produces oxytocin, which is a hormone for bonding,” explains Lewis Goldstein President of Blue Wind Marketing. A handshake done correctly will help you develop a better connection to them — but tacking on a smart conversation finisher will help ensure your great last impression will also be a memorable one.
“Have you read this?”
According to Bonnie Tsai, Founder, and Director of Beyond Etiquette, sharing valuable information like books or articles that can be beneficial to your co-conversationalist will remind them of the pleasant conversation you shared while also showing you yourself had remembered the conversation fondly.
“Should we do lunch?”
“Another would be to connect with them again at a later date whether it is coffee or lunch, so they know that you’re looking to end the conversation now, but you look forward to speaking with them another time,” explains Tsai. This way, you’re able to excuse yourself from the conversation will still showing you’re actively interested in the topic at hand.
“I don’t want to take up all of your time…”
“If you feel that you want to exit a conversation, but can’t think of anything in the moment, an easy way is to make it about them,” explains Tsai. “You can say something along the lines of ‘I don’t want to take up all of your time, it was lovely chatting with you.’” Mention how it was wonderful to meet them or how you enjoyed speaking with them and be on your way.
“Thanks so much for your time”
Alternatively, if you’ve met with someone and want to ensure they know you’re grateful for the meeting, showing immediate gratitude goes a long way. “ I find individuals that leave a lasting, good impression are engaging, friendly, and warm from start to finish in their interviews,” says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com. “They will often ask several relevant and thoughtful questions at the end of the interview and reach out post-interview to thank me for taking the time to meet with them.”
According to Sweeney, the best way to end a conversation is often by expressing gratitude and being thankful that the individual set aside the time to meet with you.
“Thanks for the update on…”
Recapping one or two things you heard them say that is important to you will show genuine interest and compatibility. When meeting at networking events (or anywhere for that matter), people tend to listen half-heartedly; the common goal is to have others hear about you. But, according to Dianna Booher, author of Communicate With Confidence, to make an impression, do the opposite.
Booher suggests listening actively for these things: Common interests. Mutual acquaintances. Mutual goals. Their specific goals. Family matters. Their accomplishments. Then, when the conversation is coming to an end, recap in some way one or two specifics to demonstrate to them that you really listened.
For example: “Thanks for that update on how the marketing department is pitching this new project. That’s intriguing and I hadn’t heard that before.” The other person will think you’re a wonderful conversationalist simply because you listen, remember, and value what they say.
“Let me know if I can help you with this”
“Identify and offer a specific way you might be able to help them in the future, but do better than the typical parting shot, ‘let me know if I can help you in any way.’” says Booher, “Instead, get specific so they know you are sincere.” An example: “Be sure to let me know if you’d like me to send an introductory email to Lisa so she’s prepared for your call next week about the interview.”
“I really enjoyed our conversation”
Everyone feels good when appreciated and offering a genuine compliment is the quickest way to give your co-conversationalist a boost. “Wrap up the conversation with something simple, but affirming, such as, ‘I really enjoyed our conversation,” suggests Megan Accardo, Leadership Strategist & Podcast Host at Power Your Purpose. “You want to leave the other person feeling favorable toward your time together and wanting to spend more time getting to know you, and a sincere compliment goes a long way!”
“I’ll email you next week to continue this conversation”
Finally, closing with a strong call to action (CTA) shows that you’ve enjoyed the conversation enough to pursue it further. “Decide how you will follow up with the person and take on the responsibility for making the CTA specific and provide a time-frame,” says Accardo. “You never want to be in the position of the ever ambiguous loop, ‘Let’s catch up soon.’ Because we all know that likely will never happen.”
Instead, Accardo suggests saying something along the lines of, “I’ll email you next week to continue this conversation; I’d love to learn more about XYZ.” Although of course, then you have to take responsibility and make sure to actually follow through.