How to make a good first impression
14 ways to make an impressive first impression
The first few seconds accounted to exactly 7 seconds of 2 people’s first meeting, there will be no less than 11 judgments made of each other, assessing in Milli Seconds everything from the other person’s competence to their wealth, political view and education level. The speed at which first impressions form, makes it difficult to control how you are perceived by the other person. Nonetheless, there is way’s how you can get the odds of the first meeting greatly in your favor. By avoiding these few common mistakes and keeping some key concepts in mind your first impression will dramatically change.
First impression tip #1: Polish thyself
Yes, we know, you know. Neat, clean, impeccable, shined equals respect. When in doubt about the proper level of formality in dress for the first meeting, opt for the more formal.
First impression tip #2: Scan the news
The morning of your meeting, check the newspaper headlines. Current events often come up in the course of a business meeting. If you arrive at an 11AM meeting and you’ve missed the breaking news that Elvis has returned to earth to save us, it’s not likely that you’re up to speed with the changes in your industry either.
First impression tip #3: Watch the clock
Too many people don’t understand that being early is nearly as bad as being late. Besides looking like you have nothing better to do, you risk making the other person(s) feel rushed. If necessary, kill some time at the local cinema around the corner. But don’t show up and announce yourself even five minutes early.
First impression tip #4: Give yourself a speech
If you set your mind just right, your brain will steer you through most situations. Moments before the meeting, give yourself a quick “pep-talk”, reminding yourself of your ambition: to convey, first, your enthusiasm about, and mastery of, your initiative, and second – and this is the part most people overlook – your respect for what the person you’re meeting with has to offer. Many of us are good at outlining our plans for world conquest, but less good at honoring the other person’s importance to the scheme. They have to feel they are getting their dues and your respect.
First impression tip #5: Walk tall
So easy, yet so rare – good posture makes you look healthy, proud, open and trustworthy, instead of sneaky, ashamed and on the run.
First impression tip #6: Flash teeth
Before you are even greeted, smile. People feel more confident when they are smiling. You send out the message that your upbeat, warm, delighted to be there. Don’t use a close-lip smile however, it can look smug.
First impression tip #7: Worship Covey
There is no better advice than habit number five from Steven Coveys book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. Pair that with the immortal words credited to Yogi Berra: “ You can observe a lot by just watching “. People aren’t impressed with the self-absorbed. So ask questions, get to know the person(s).
First impression tip #8: Let them see through you
You want to achieve transparency, a sense that you’re confident enough to be self-critical. Awareness of both your strengths and your weaknesses makes you mature and ambitious, even if you are juvenile and lazy.
First impression tip #9: Slow down just a bit
When we are nervous, we tend to talk a lot faster than when we are relaxed. Make an effort to speak just a little more slowly than you normally do. Also, modulate your voice, changing its pitch and volume, and vary your talking pace.
First impression tip #10: Expose yourself
Don’t sit with your arms crossed. It can come across as defensive or, even worse, judgmental.
First impression tip #11: Look, but don’t stare
Eye contact shows that you are interested and fun, further, that you are not afraid that they will recognize you from the wanted posters. But holding your gaze for too long can come across as intimidating. Every five seconds or so, break your glance off.
First impression tip #12: Settle for simple
This is not a meeting where you explain your theory of exactly how marketing has been transformed forever by Eminem. Save your fascinating paradigm-busting insights for later, when you are sure the person meeting you, will meet you again.
First impression tip #13: Get out of there, gratefully
Be sure the meeting ends before the first awkward silence tells you it has been over for five minutes. Your exit sentence is built around a “thank you” sentiment, you are grateful for the time spent with you, and listening to what you had to say.
First impression tip #14: Become a correspondent
In this e-mail era, the power of a hand written follow up letter is dramatic. A letter conveys thoughtfulness. Send him/her a note to say thank you. 🙂