From First to Last

Today we hear from our contributor Mark Swain (HR professional), who focuses on the importance of first impressions.
Make the best impression -wb
This morning is a lovely morning. Ok, rubbish in a weather sense – howling wind, and that misty rain that makes everything damp. But great because I realise how my batteries have recharged after spending time with my family (which I did last night) and meeting brilliant standout people (which I did yesterday afternoon). My mind has been busily dissecting and analysing the afternoon’s example; thinking about why they were so memorable, particularly given we’ve only met once. Why have they stayed firmly in my mind, as great people and professionals? It’s really simple, and let me explain.
It’s often said that “first impressions last”, so you need to manage those first few minutes when you meet someone. Actually, given how judgemental many people can be, they have probably made their decision about you in the first few seconds – if you doubt that, then Google “The 7/11 Rule” by Michael Solomon. But to really stand out, you need to manage your next impression and your last impression as well. And that’s what the daughter/mother team I met yesterday managed to do – subconsciously and instinctively. It was obvious that their:

  • First impression was of smiling positivity, as they welcomed me into their home and business (which created connection)

  • Next impression was their sparky interest in my work, and how it could be applied to theirs (which created energy)

  • Last impression was of firm commitment to moving things forward, and making things happen (which created trust)

This all meant that our planned ninety-minute meeting lasted over four hours, and I was absolutely buzzing. What advice would I give? Practice your first impression. But be mindful that it’s your next and last impressions that create the lasting impact. The author Sonya Parker once said that:

Almost everyone will make a good first impression. But only a few will make a good lasting impression.

So focus on those three elements. Be mindful of them, when you meet new people or encounter new situations. Control them when you can. Manage them from FIRST to LAST. Because people who do that are so impressive. And in a crowd of people, and a world of many things, impressive makes you stand out.

Read Mark Swain’s earlier blogs on Happiness:

PRIME: Personality: The Way to Find the Work You Love
How to get to know your personality, what really makes you tick, and how to use that self-awareness to find work you’ll really enjoy


PRIME: Resilience: It’s More Than Just ‘Bouncing Back’
Resilience is multi-dimensional. Find out how to build resilience to help achieve your goals.


PRIME: Image: The Ultimate Test of Self Control
Image is vital to happiness and mostly in our control.  Learn how to improve your self-image and projected image.


PRIME: Mindset: Don’t Let a Better Life Pass You Buy…
How managing your mindset can drive positive changes in your life.


See more from Mark Swain:

For Those Shrinking Violets
Top tips for introverts, and for extroverts who want to better understand the introverts you know


Mark Swain

Mark Swain

Director of Partnerships at Henley Business School


About Mark Swain

Mark Swain will be one of our regular contributors at Hello Grads.
 Former Director of Partnerships at the Henley Business School, he delivered high-end learning and leadership development to senior business executives – through training, events and networking.

Mark has enjoyed a career across sales, marketing and many aspects of HR, and he will be talking and writing about some pressing issues for graduates – choosing career direction, recognising what you have to offer, creating strong first impressions and making yourself stand out in a competitive jobs market.

Contact: or and @meritology


Director of Partnerships at the Henley Business School
FInstSMM – Fellow of the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management
Fellow at The Learning & Performance Institute
Lead consultant at The Chemistry Group

Education: University of Portsmouth – Economics