Face it. The next time you walk into a room with new people, assumptions about you will be made.
Within the first few seconds of meeting a new person, he or she will form an opinion about you based on your appearance, mannerisms, and body language.
These opinions are often difficult to overcome or undo, making these first encounters extremely significant.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to ensure that these assumptions and opinions are positive. Here are 10:
- Be Punctual – Not much is more detrimental to one’s opinion of you than tardiness. A person you are meeting for the very first time will not care to listen to your excuses, despite how “real” or “good” they are. Plan for delays in traffic or other impeding events and remember that arriving early is much better than arriving late.
- Neat and Tidy – You won’t make it far without the ability to present yourself in an organized manner. Take care to make sure you look your best. Make sure your hair is cut and your fingernails are trimmed. Is your attire appropriate for the occasion? Is it a business meeting? A casual setting? Be sure to iron and remove any stains from your clothes. This is perhaps the most important tip. Failing to present yourself in an orderly way can cost you greatly.
- Play the Name Game – Be sure to suitably introduce yourself. Give your name, a tidbit of information about yourself and something about why you are introducing yourself. An example would be something like “Hi, my name is Tim Bridge. I am from XYZ Pharmaceuticals for the seminar on water quality”.
- Body Language – 55% of communication is done through body language. This is definitely enough of a percentage for you to put in a significant amount of time perfecting your body language. The most important aspects of body language to master are your eye contact and posture, including arm positioning. For an informative article on perfecting your body language, check out 10 Tips to Boost Your Body Language Skills.
- Focus On Them – The one golden rule to follow if you want someone to like you is to make them feel good. The first and foremost thing in your mind at any moment during the conversation should be “Is what I am saying making him or her feel good?” Avoid asking a ton of questions, but keep the conversation’s spotlight on him or her. A big portion of this is the ability to listen well. To spruce up on your listening skills, give 10 Tips to Be A Better Listener a once-over.
- Remember to Smile – A strong, confident smile can do wonders for a first impression. Spend a few minutes in front of the mirror and determine which of your smiles fit the occasion best. Be careful not to smile too much though. This could make you seem insincere and artificial.
- Preliminary Research – Although its not always possible, in many situations, you’ll have to opportunity to do some research about the person or people you are meeting. Prepare by collecting a few key questions that you’d like to ask and familiarize yourself with the hobbies, likes and dislikes, or activities of the individual before you are introduced. For example, does he participate in the company softball league? Does she have any children?
- Forget the Rest of the Day – No matter what happened earlier in the day, act like your day is going perfectly. Your hair may be all over the place, you just received a parking ticket, and your coffee shop was out of your favorite bagel, but you must leave that all behind and act pleasantly and courteously. Just put it all behind you for a few minutes and portray the kind of person you want to be seen as.
- Act Like It’s Not A First Impression – If you treat your new acquaintance like someone you’ve known for years, you’ll automatically start using friendlier body language and smiling more. Any nervousness you may have exposed through your tone of voice will be diminished, which will be noticed immediately by the other individual – getting your relationship off on the right foot.
- Don’t Worry Too Much – Prepare as much as you want to or are able to, but once you are there, live in the moment. Try to keep your focus on the outside by responding to others and really communicating rather than focusing on your thoughts and trying to analyze situations. Once you are in the heat of the moment, stay there and go with the flow.
You have only a few moments to make an ideal impression and if it doesn’t go the way you had planned, it is difficult if not impossible. The next time you are preparing for a first impression, be sure to employ these 10 tips.
Know any other ways to make a great first impression? Post them in the comments! We’d love to read about them.
Image by slava