Here’s your “Get Out of Jail” – or your sad closet – free card. When I think about spring, warmer weather and wearing shorts, I think shopping. And I think you need a new look.

Every great woman needs to make a great first impression. Really, what do you think of someone who shows up to everything in a track suit or sloppy, worn-out jeans? (This is how I look most of the time, so I’m not trying to be hyper-critical.) First impressions count – more than you think.

Think about how you want your fellow students, professors and (hopefully) employers to perceive you and your strengths. Business strategist and TV personality Carol Roth says what you wear on the outside – and how you act as a result – can lead to great things… or the same, old thing. Often, you only get one chance to impress a prospective boss or other person in authority.

So what does she recommend? Well, lucky you ask. Turns out the kind Ms. Roth has eight suggestions for making a good impression. Check that – a great first impression, she tells us. It’s not enough to be on time. It’s not enough to be just presentable (Oops, that means me.)

A little bit about Roth. This powerful woman has been helping businesses grow for over 15 years, ranging from solopreneurs (don’t you love that phrase?) to multinational corporations. She has helped them raise more than $1 billion in capital, complete hundreds of millions of dollars in M&A transactions, secure high-profile licensing and partnership deals, create brand loyalty programs and more.

She has been on lotsa television shows and channels: Fox News, MSNBC, and WGN-TV Chicago, among others, she has an award-winning blog at www.CarolRoth.com. Her new book is The Entrepreneur Equation: Evaluating the Realities, Risks, and Rewards of Having Your Own Business (BenBella Books, March 2011).

Anyway, onto the eight tips:

1. Say little, listen a lot: Do your research so you have something to say – and ask – when prompted. Look everyone straight in the eyeballs. Remember: God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason; be a good listener.

2. Add value: Think of how you could improve the business you’re talking to – and offer suggestions so they see you are problem solver.

3. Knock them off balance: Have some way to describe yourself that puts people on watch for you. For example, Roth says she always tells people, “I’ll tell you if you have spinach in your teeth.”

4. Be in the moment: Live right there. Don’t think about your texts, your kids or your dinner that night. Focus, focus. Don’t think about your nerves, think about a first impression.

5. Give a gift: Don’t get to spunky here, but something small and memorable is nice. Maybe it’s a notepad for a writer who is interviewing you, or a treat for a chef that is making you a personal meal. New people will remember you best if you thought of them first.

6. Follow up immediately: Really, send thank-you notes. It’s not goofy, it’s great. Ask them if there is anything else you could do for them. And follow up if they ask. My favorite question at the end of an in interview is: “What else do you want people to know that I forgot to ask?” So, ask!

7. Be memorable: Give yourself a trademark. Maybe you always carry a pen behind your ear, maybe you love super high heels. Granted, this won’t work if you are a fireman or other profession. But if it works for you, it will be memorable for them.

8. Exude confidence: People don’t know you’re worried or nervous. Show them you feel great, and they’ll think you’re great.

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