When meeting someone for the first time, making a great first impression is always a nervous, nail biting moment. Your first impressions could indeed make or break a potential personal or professional relationship. It takes about five seconds for the average person to make a judgement of you based on the way you are dressed, your presence, your demeanor, and many other nonverbal that you are consciously or subconsciously communicating. Finally, the first words that come out of your mouth will effect your impression, hopefully in a positive way.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
I’m sure you have heard it before, but truly, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. First impressions are lasting imprints in a person’s memory, so making a bad one makes it that much harder for you to shape or reshape a person’s perception of you. A good impression will usually be a memorable experience. As a professional you will meet and network with many people throughout your career. Having so many interactions means that standing out in a positive way should be a main priority. However, this does not mean that you should put on an Oscar worthy performance to push your personal or professional agenda. Doing so could result in a negative first impression and you could come off as inauthentic and the relationship will not progress.
But don’t worry! If you follow these tips you we can help you make a lasting positive first impression with anyone you encounter both personally and professionally.
1. Be On Time
No one likes it when they feel their time is wasted. Being on time shows that you value both yours and their time. Timeliness also shows professionalism and that you are serious about what it is that you do. When showing up for a meeting it is usually recommended that you arrive at least 10- 15 minutes early. If you are going to be late be sure to effectively communicate that to the whomever it is that you are to be meeting. Equally important is leaving or ending on time. Don’t hold anyone hostage. If a meeting you scheduled is from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm be sure to start wrapping things up at five till and schedule a follow-up meeting to complete remaining open or pending task and discussions.
2. Be Confident
There’s nothing more appealing than a person that is confident about their ability in themselves. Know your worth and present yourself as someone in a way that you know the value of what you can assist or offer them with. Be direct. If you have questions, ask them. If you disagree during a conversation or discussion, then be honest enough to discuss your opinion and stay open minded. There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance; be able to know the difference. The two are often mistaken for one another and can be the deal breaker in forming any relationship.
3. Be Aware of How You Communicate Non-verbally
Your body language is a key indicator of how you feel, what you are thinking, what you are hearing and for some people even what they are smelling and tasting! Making a strange face in a meeting or rolling your eyes when you disagree can come across as negative and impolite. Your face and body can express countless emotions without you even saying a word. By being aware of certain nonverbal and attempting to be a more effective communicator you will in turn help shape others perception of you. Affirmative body language will transform a room, so will negative body language. Try your best to avoid sitting with your arms crossed, avoiding eye contact, slouching, and even standing too close. One of your greatest abilities will be how you quickly you can build relationships and influence others and it all starts with controlling your nonverbal communication first.
4. Know Your Craft
Whether you are meeting for business or for personal reasons, when you are asked about your craft you should be intimate with the details of the topic. Especially if it is listed on your LinkedIn, resume, cover letter, or even your business card. There is a difference in being an expert on a topic and having conversational knowledge. At a minimum you should have conversational knowledge, meaning that if asked a detailed question you can engage in an intelligent conversation. The fastest way to a bad first impression is to lie or make up facts or details about a topic. If you do not know it is perfectly fine and respectable to state that exactly, but doing a bit of research beforehand won’t hurt you either! If someone tells you they are a good basketball player, you expect them to know the difference between a jump shot and a layup; the same applies when it comes to talking about your own experiences.
5. Have a Positive Attitude
You attract what you put out. If you enter a conversation with a positive attitude, then you will more than likely be greeted with one. Avoid bashing other people or talking about how terrible your day was. Put out positive vibes only, right? If the other person is negative, kill them with kindness and maybe reevaluate the relationship you are attempting to form. Keep in mind that we all have bad or off days as well.
6. Be Yourself
All in all, be yourself. Never try to present yourself as someone that you are not. Not only are you learning about them but they are learning about you. You don’t want to put out a false perception of who you are. Besides, who wants to be in a situation where you feel like you can’t be your most authentic self? Trust us, you also don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you can’t be yourself. Dr. Seuss said it best, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.”
Making a good first impression may seem quite difficult but it could be the one thing that keeps you from taking your career to the next level. By following these tips, it makes it that much more easy to for first encounters to be great encounters.