You only get one shot to make that first important impression. While the studies don’t agree on one specific number – they are all agreed that you have less than 30 seconds to impress. Some studies even state that you have only seven seconds before someone makes a judgement. So you have a lot to pack into those seven seconds to make your impression a positive one.
1. Show confidence in your body language.
Your body language speaks volumes. It can help you or it can hinder you. When you’re nervous it shows in the way you’re standing or what you’re doing with your hands. The same goes for when you’re confident; standing tall and making eye contact shows confidence.
2. Don’t be late
This is simply good behaviour and is non-negotiable – do not be late! Being late always equals a bad first impression and is one of the hardest mistakes to recover from. When in doubt, show up early. Being early can also help you relax and get yourself in a good, positive frame of mind. If you’re rushing, that’s what will be on your mind, and you won’t be able to dedicate 100% of your energy to staying focused and confident, speaking with authority, and nailing your first impression.
3. Email etiquette
That first email someone receives from you makes an impression. How is it formatted? Is the tone friendly? Is the message clear? Is it concise? Is it professional?
Type it, leave it a few minutes and then re-read before you press send.
4. Present yourself appropriately
Physical appearance matters. The person you are meeting for the first time doesn’t know you, so your appearance is usually the first clue they have to go on. This doesn’t mean that you need to look like a model to create a strong and positive first impression. The key to a good impression is to present yourself appropriately.
First, think about the way that you dress. What is the appropriate dress code for the meeting or occasion? In a business setting, what is the appropriate business attire? Suit, casual? And what will the person you’ll be meeting be likely to wear? If your contact is in the creative arts or the music industry, a pinstripe business suit may not strike the right note!
5. Be yourself
Making a good first impression does mean you need to fit in to some degree. But it doesn’t mean losing yourself or pretending to be someone you’re not. The best way to create a good impression is by being your genuine self. Doing this will make you feel more confident, help you to build trust, and earn the respect and integrity from the people you meet.
6. Have a winning smile
As the saying goes, smile and the world smiles too and there’s nothing like a smile to create a good first impression. A warm and confident smile will put you and the other person at ease. Smiling is a winner when it comes to great first impressions. But don’t go overboard with this – people who take this too far can seem insincere and smarmy.
7. Use small talk
Conversations are based on verbal give and take. It may help you to prepare some questions for the person you are meeting. Or, take a few minutes to learn something about him or her. For instance, does he play golf? Does she work with a local charitable foundation? Do you have anything in common with them? If so, this can be a great way to open the conversation and to keep it flowing.
8. Be positive
Your attitude shines through in everything you do. So, project a positive attitude, even in the face of criticism or in the case of nervousness. Strive to learn from your meeting and to contribute appropriately. Finally, show that you are approachable by maintaining an upbeat manner and smiling!
9. Be Courteous and attentive
It goes without saying that good manners, polite, attentive and courteous behaviour all helps to make that good first impression.
Set aside distractions by turning off your phone so that you can give the person your full attention and don’t get side-tracked by other people. After all, what kind of first impression would you create if you are more interested in talking to someone else? Your new acquaintance deserves 100% of your attention.
10. Offer a friendly hello
You may not have given much thought to how you say hello. But studies of vocal attractiveness show that people form an immediate opinion of the other person’s personality with this simple greeting.
So make sure your warmth comes through when you say hello the first time.