“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
– Will Rogers
During my early days of attending networking events, I remember being told, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”
It might not seem fair, but the first impression you give someone is hard to shake. The second you meet someone, their subconscious has already started to make a decision about you. Not only that, these first impressions last a long time and are hard to shake. This is why making a good first impression is so important. If you want to make sure you put your best foot forward, consider using the following tips:
1. Dress to Impress
Taking the time to groom one's self in the morning is time well spent. You will not only feel more confident, but you will also make sure you are ready to impress. Remember, first impressions start as soon as someone sees you. If you don't look the part, it is going to affect how people feel about you regardless of the things you say.
2. Be On-Time
If you are meeting someone for the first time, it is paramount that you show up on time. Being late to a meeting – whether it is online or in-person, is a surefire way to make a bad first impression. People value their time, and they don't look kindly towards those who want to waste it.
A warm, sincere smile is one of the best ways to put people at ease. If you show up at a meeting and you look angry and miserable, that will be the first thing people think about you. Don't go overboard but be quick with a smile when meeting someone.
4. Every BODY Talks. Watch What Your Body Says
Since first impressions are so wrapped up in your image, you need to stay focused on what your body language is saying. You can dress the part and smile, but if your arms are crossed in front of your chest, you will still seem closed off. Make sure your body language is open and welcoming.
5. Watch Your Volume
When you finally get to the point of speaking, make sure you watch your volume. If you are too loud, it can come off as boisterous or aggressive. If you speak too softly, you could come off insincere or unconfident.
6. Show Genuine Interest
I tell my clients, “To be interesting, be interesting.” When you are involved in a conversation, make sure you do your best to show genuine interest. Answer questions when asked and ask follow-up questions to thoughts that you find interesting. People can tell when you are pseudo-listening, so make sure you focus on this step.
Have you ever had a conversation where the other person talks so much you can't even get a word in? No one likes being in this situation. I have a plaque in my office that says, “Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you. Listen in such a way that others love to speak to you.” If you want to make a great first impression, make sure you listen to people as often as you speak.
8. Contribute to the Conversation
While listening is essential, being completely silent is a problem in its own right. It is hard to build a rapport or impress anyone if you refuse to be part of the conversation. Pick your spots and add your viewpoints when there is an opening.
9. Don't Overthink It
While making an excellent first impression is important, you can't focus on it too much. If you are stuck inside of your head obsessed with making a good first impression, you might come off as unnatural or trying too hard. Being confident, calm, and collected is sure to help you make a great first impression.
Ready for some actionable steps?