It takes just 10 to 30 seconds for people to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, it can be a deal maker or a deal breaker and they will form an impression of you based on your appearance, your dressing, your body language, your attitude and your mannerisms.
Research shows that once the first impression is made, it usually takes at least 8 exposures for that impression to change. Therefore, those first encounters are extremely important, for they set the tone for all relationships that follows.
Is it unfair? Well, it might be but unfortunate that’s just how the world works. With this in mind, this article looks to arm you with 6 highly effective tips to help you make a killer first impression every time.
There’s nothing like a smile to make a good first impression. It immediately helps put the other at ease and it destroys any doubts or anxiety they may be feeling. But please don’t try to fake a smile!
Present Yourself Appropriately
A picture is worth a thousand words, therefore, ensure that the image you created is the desired one you want to project. The key to a good impression is to present yourself appropriately.
First, check the dress code. If there is no dress code, look at the occasion and ask yourself what the people you will be meeting wear? For business networking, men should opt for business suit, blazer or business attire (long-sleeved shirt with tie). Ladies wear jacket suit or blazer. Choosing the right attire sends a strong message that you respect the event and you value the other person enough to take time to dress up for them.
Grooming is the management of your personal details. Be clean and neat, including your fingernails, teeth, shoes, hair, face and make-up for ladies.
The goal is to “feel good” about the way you look and project a positive image.
The Power of Positivity
When you feel good about yourself, you naturally convey an air of confidence and positive attitude.
Your attitude shows through everything you do. Project a positive attitude regardless of how your day went. When meeting someone for the first time, focus on being positive and keep any negativity out of the conversation.
Look to introduce yourself early. If you leave it too long to introduce yourself, there is a danger of awkwardness building up; but if you take the initiative to introduce yourself first, it portrays a level of confidence.
Conversations are based on verbal give and take. You may want to prepare questions in advance or do your homework if you are meeting a potential client to have an advantage over your competitors.
Ask open ended questions and let people talk about themselves, their experiences and find common interest/experience to keep conversation flowing.
Be Mindful of Your Body Language
Use positive body language to project confidence and self-assurance. Stand tall, smile, eye-contact, greet with a firm handshake. Let your body relax, keep your body faced towards the other person and don’t force a certain pose. Take your time when moving, making slow and controlled gestures.
Avoid fidgeting, folding your arms or placing objects in between you and the other person. Sit upright in your chair and lean forward just a little towards them to show that you are engaged with them.
Get Interested in Others & Listen Effectively
Take a genuine interest in the other person. Let the other person do the talking and you listen a lot so that you make them feel important and it will drastically improves the rapport between you.
Always start off by asking how’s people’s days are going. Next, ask others about what they do for a living and their key events in their career.
Attentive listening builds trust. When someone speaks, make eye contact and show you are fully engaged. Always allow others time to fully express themselves. If you interrupt or attempt to finish someone’s sentence, they may assume you are in a hurry or feel offended.
First impressions are happening all the time and they happen fast therefore it’s worth giving each new encounter your best shot. Make the effort to prepare yourself with the above tips. Remember that you never have a second chance to make a first impression.