Admit it… With every new encounter, whether that’s in your career or social life, you judge people. You’re not alone. Research shows that it takes just a quick glance, approximately three to seven seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the very first time.
In this short time, we form an opinion about the person we are meeting based on body language, appearance, demeanor, mannerism and how we are dressed. These first impressions are almost impossible to reverse or undo, making first encounters extremely important because they set the tone for the relationship that follows.
Making a good first impression is incredibly important because you only get one shot at it, so how can you ensure that people are judging you correctly while also seeing the best side of you? While you don’t want to give people an inauthentic first look at you – a lot of people can intuitively sense if someone is fake – you do want to put your best foot forward.
Here are our TOP 10 tips to make sure people’s first impression of you is a good one.
#1 Do Your Research
When you meet someone for the very first time, it is a good idea to be as prepared as you can be. Nowadays it is easy to find out a lot about another person with the click of a button. Do your research on the person you are going to meet so that you have a good idea about his or her personality. The internet is a wealth of information and you can find a lot of useful information. If you know somebody who is already acquainted with that person, ask them if they can fill in some blanks.
#2 Set an Intention
A key factor to making a good first impression is to set an intention for the first meeting. This is especially important if it’s a big event where you meet several new people. Whether it is a networking event, an industry conference or a party at a friend’s house, as you get ready, get clear about what kind of people you want to meet and the kind of interactions you want to have. This has an incredibly grounding effect and makes you channel the kind of energy you want for the occasion.
#3 Rehearse Your First Encounter
Every actor rehearses their role before stepping on stage or in front of the camera, so why not do this yourself? If you practice your first encounter, it will help you to be a lot more relaxed and confident when you actually meet. Think about some talking points so that you can smoothly transition from one topic to the next. Unlike with an actor preparing for a play, there is no script when meeting someone new, so be prepared that the conversation may take on a completely different direction you imagined and rehearsed. Don’t let that throw you off your game.
#4 Smile and Make Eye Contact
There’s nothing that makes a good first impression quite like a genuine, warm and confident smile. It will put you as well as the other person at ease and smiling just makes everybody feel happier and can eliminate a bad mood. Don’t go overboard though, if you take it too far, people will see you as insincere. Don’t forget to make eye contact and make it a point to take note of the other person’s eye color. It’s a great technique to achieve the optimum amount of eye contact that people find friendly and confident.
#5 Appearance Matters
Physical appearance matters. Since the other person doesn’t know you yet, your appearance will give the first clue that he or she has to go on. The key is to present yourself according to the occasion, but don’t forget to express your individuality appropriately within that context. Put some thought into your outfit and accessories. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words… The thing is, if you look and feel good, you will also be a lot more relaxed and confident.
#6 Be Conscious of Your Body Language
Being aware of your body language is crucial for any first encounter. 60-90 percent of communicating with others is non-verbal, so it gives you a lot more clues about another person than what the person is actually saying. Be aware of your posture, the way you angle your body, how you carry yourself, the way you position your shoulders when you shake hands, the direction your feet are pointing, your facial expressions. Examine your body language, maybe even take a video of yourself to get some clues. Simply adjusting your body language can make a huge difference and the way you stand can have an immediate impact on your confidence level.
#7 Be Interested and Interesting
If you want to make a great first impression, be truly interested in meeting people and be open to find out who they are, this energy will positively translate to the other person. We’ve all experienced meeting someone new and instantly knew that they were dragged here by a friend or boss, just waiting for the first opportunity to disappear. When you meet someone for the very first time, approach them with genuine interest and make an effort to connect. Interest is contagious and they will become interested in you as well. Keep in mind, the number one thing people like to talk about is themselves, so make sure you ask questions that indicate that you are interested and listen to the answers.
#8 Be on Time and Turn Off Your Phone
It is crucial to be punctual, especially in today’s business world where everybody is extremely busy and patience is almost non-existent. Show respect and consideration for the other person by arriving on time. Someone you are meeting for the very first time is not interested in hearing your excuses for running late. Also, make it a point to not pull out your phone and instead stay present with the conversation, no matter what distractions may be buzzing in your pocket. You don’t want to be perceived as distracted, disoriented, or disinterested.
#9 Remember names
There is magic in remembering someone’s name. People love to hear their names, so put in the effort to remember everyone’s name and work it into the conversation. Everybody likes to feel special and important and when we make the effort to remember someone’s name it shows them that we care.
#10 Compliment the Other Person
Compliments go a long way, especially when they encourage a meaningful conversation. However, when you make a compliment, make sure that what you are saying is actually true. Complimenting someone just for the sake of making a good impression or keeping the conversation flowing is disrespectful and the other person will immediately look right through you. Be genuine and mean what you say.
Whether it’s the new guy in the cubicle next to you, the woman at the coffee counter or a hot first date, we only have a few seconds to make a good first impression and it’s almost impossible to ever change it. So it is definitely worth giving every new encounter your very best shot. Much of what we discussed is common sense, but with just a little extra preparation and thoughtfulness, you can hone your personal style to not only make a good first impression, but to make it great.
GET OFF TO A GREAT START AND BE YOUR FABULOUS SELF
Joschi & Monika