It takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanour, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed.
With every new encounter, you are evaluated and yet another person’s impression of you is formed.
These first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making these first encounters extremely important, because they will set the tone for everything that follows.
So, whether they are in your career or social life, it’s important to know how to create a good first impression.
Be on Time
Someone you are meeting for the first time is not interested in your “good excuse” for running late.
Plan to arrive a few minutes early. And allow flexibility for possible delays in traffic or taking a wrong turn.
Arriving early is much better that arriving late and is the first step in creating a great first impression.
Be Yourself, Be at Ease
If you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge the person you are meeting won’t feel at ease and this will create the wrong impression.
If you are calm and confident, so the other person will feel more at ease, and so have a solid foundation for making that first impression a good one.
Present Yourself Appropriately
Your physical appearance matters. The person you are meeting for the first time does not know you and your appearance is usually the first thing they have to go on.
You don’t 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.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so the “picture” you first present says much about you to the person you are meeting. Is your appearance saying the right things to help create the right first impression?
Start with the way you dress. What is the appropriate dress for the meeting or occasion? And what do you want the way you dress to say about you and your business.
And then we come on to personal grooming? Clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for most business and social occasions. This includes a good haircut or shave, clean and tidy clothes, appropriate make up and jewellery. Make sure your grooming is appropriate and helps make you feel “the part”.
Appropriate dressing and grooming help make a good first impression and also help you feel “the part”, and so feel more calm and confident. Add these things together and you are well on your way to creating a good first impression.
A Word about Individuality
The good news is you can usually create a good impression without total conformity or losing your individuality. To make a good first impression you do need to “fit in” to some degree. But it all goes back to being appropriate for the situation.
A Winning Smile!
We have all heard the saying “Smile and the world smiles too.” So there’s nothing like a smile to create a good first impression. A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease. So smiling is a winner when it comes to great first impressions. You just need to be careful not to overdo it and appear smarmy or insincere.
Be Open and Confident
When it comes to making the first impression, body language as well as appearance speaks much louder than words.
Use your body language to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance. Stand tall, smile, make eye contact, greet with a firm handshake. All of this will help you project confidence and encourage both you and the other person to feel better at ease.
Almost everyone gets a little nervous when meeting someone for the first time. By being aware of your nervous habits, you can try to keep them under control. And controlling a nervous jitter or a nervous laugh will give you confidence and help the other person feel at ease.
Small Talk Goes a Long Way…
Conversations are based on verbal give and take. It may help you to prepare questions you have for the person you are meeting for the first time beforehand. Or, take a few minutes to learn something about the person you meet for the first time before you get together. For instance, do they play golf? Do they work with a local charitable foundation?
Is there anything that you know of that you have in common with the person you are meeting? If so, this can be a great way to open the conversation and to keep it flowing.
Don’t be afraid of talking about things outside of business. People deal with people they know and like so you need to build up a level of trust. The more people know about you the more they will trust you and you may find out that you have more in common than you first thought.
Your attitude shows through in everything you do. 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, maintaining an upbeat manner and a smile.
Be Courteous And Attentive
It goes without saying that good manners and polite, attentive and courteous behaviour help make a good first impression. In fact, anything less can ruin the one chance you have at making that first impression. So be on your best behaviour!
So turn off your mobile phone or leave it on silent in your pocket and resist the urge to check for messages. Just think of the impression you will create if you are already speaking to someone other than the person you are meeting for the first time. Your new acquaintance deserves 100% of your attention. Anything less and you’ll create a less than good first impression.
You have just a few seconds to make a good first impression and it’s almost impossible ever to change it. So it’s worth giving each new encounter your best shot. Much of what you need to do to make a good impression is common sense. But with a little extra thought and preparation, you can hone your intuitive style and make every first impression not just good but great.