Arrive with five to spare

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There are many in life who unfortunately seem to view meeting times and appointments as suggestions rather than commitments. That these set times are something they can breeze into a few minutes late with no harm done.
In some cases, you’ll inevitably be able to get away with it. Just as you would get away with showing right in the nick of time for meetings continuously. But you won’t make that great first impression that you could otherwise, not even if you’re arriving right on time all the time.
A month ago, I wrote about how much of a detriment being late is to your reputation, both professionally and personally, but there’s something to be said for going further than even just showing up on time.
The other side to this issue is arriving five minutes early.
Being five minutes early for business events, for meetings, for interviews, even for coffee chats with friends, can make or break you. Especially you, the young professional in the early years of building your career. Those five minutes can create an indelible impression that will impress who you’re speaking with.
You already know that that being late is a huge no-no. You’ve often heard that, I’m sure, throughout your life. But don’t just aim to arrive on time, because five minutes early is a big huge “check” in your favour.
Why’s that, you might ask?

  • You’ll have time to settle in and catch your breath before a meeting begins. Showing up just in the nick of time could easily throw you off from showcasing your best self and making a good first impression.
  • A benefit of giving yourself this time to settle in is it will also allow you to mentally go over the few – or many – items you want to talk about in your meeting.
  • Aiming to arrive early will give you time to grab a coffee or tea before your meeting starts too. Showing up even a little bit late and with a coffee in hand is a bad sign to whoever you’ve kept waiting. It’s telling them that you valued getting that coffee over arriving on time.
  • Arriving early could also give you a chance to talk and connect with other people attending the same meeting who also showed up early. In meetings of larger groups of people, there’s plenty of chances for networking and getting to know the other attendees, a chance you wouldn’t receive if you arrived only just in time for the meeting itself to begin.
  • You’ll also likely make less mistakes in general the earlier you arrive. You’ve settled in, you have a mental checklist of what you want to say, and thus you’ve set yourself up as best as possible for the meeting you’re about to enter.
  • Something the person you’re meeting with will now have noticed about you is your promptness. Make this arrival pattern a habit and you’re bound to impress.
  • But show up even just one time, and you’ll show others how you’re a reliable, dependable person. This will be an especially huge bonus in an interview situation, when you can show a potential employer that you’re a reliable, dependable candidate.
  • Most of all, you’ll prevent some damaging judgements being made about yourself or your character upon arrival. There’s no chance this way that you’ll look flustered, flaky or unorganized.

If that last point doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will.

But don’t be too early. After all, show up 15-20 minutes early and you’re only inconveniencing the person you showed up to meet with. They’ve set the meeting for a specific time to avoid conflict with other plans either before or after your meeting. You definitely don’t want your arrival to be met with an icy stare, disapproving eyebrow furrow and a silent face screaming “really?” back at you from whoever you came to meet. That’s not cool.

Instead, simply arrive poised and ready to tackle your meeting successfully. The best way to do that is getting there just a little early. You can center yourself and your thoughts, give a good first impression, and keep the schedule of whoever you’re meeting with running smoothly, which they’ll appreciate and remember about you.

When has arriving early worked for you? Or when was there a time when you could have used those five minutes before an important meeting? Add to the conversation and comment on the L Squared Style Facebook page or follow @lsquaredstyle on Twitter and contribute there. We want to hear from you!