Whether you’ve just started college or you’re entering the work force, you’ll be making an impression on people within seconds of meeting them. Your appearance, body language and demeanor are just a few ways you communicate with the world without saying a word. You can’t always predict when you’ll be meeting someone for the first time, but you can be ready for when the time comes. I’ve put together five tips to help you make a good first impression:
1. Be Positive
When making a first impression, being positive goes a long way. We’ve all met someone for the first time and instantly knew they were dragged there by a friend. Your attitude shows in everything you do. Projecting a positive attitude is contagious! You’ll appear far more inviting, and you may even strike up a really nice conversation with a lasting connection.
2. Be Conscious of Your Body Language
Your body language plays a major role in your first impression. It actually has much more of an influence than anything you actually say. You should look confident and comfortable. You should stand tall, smile, make eye contact and greet with a firm handshake. Lean forward and nod to your head to show that you’re engaged and paying attention. Also, don’t be afraid to improve your speaking with the use of your hands. Be mindful of your palms, though. Open palms have a welcoming and positive effect on people, while downward palms indicate authority, dominance and even defiance.
3. Prepare Talking Points
If you know who you’re meeting ahead of time, do your homework. Find out what their interests are, and put together some talking points. Preparation can reduce any potential anxiety and boost your confidence. You’ll appear interesting and knowledgeable. You can, and should, let some topics come up naturally in conversation. But if the conversation isn’t flowing organically, you’ll have the talking points to fall back on.
4. Have an Introduction Ready
Prepare a short introduction about yourself that is universal among anyone you potentially meet. Prepare a warm introduction followed by a few statements about yourself. The idea is to give the other person something they can comment on to spark a conversation. Also, when you unexpectedly meet someone, it’s easy to draw a blank on what to say. Having your short introduction already prepared can save you from an awkward silence, and even a negative first impression.
5. Follow-up & Follow-through
A positive first impression is great, but a positive lasting impression is even better. If you happened to exchange contact information while meeting, don’t be afraid to follow up afterward. If it was an interview, thank them for meeting with you and mention something that stood out to you during your initial conversation. If it wasn’t an interview, follow up anyway! When appropriate, send them a text, a friend request or even connect on LinkedIn to show that you enjoyed meeting them. By being friendly and remembering to follow-up, it’s more likely that they’ll remember you.
Good first impressions can lead to wonderful relationships, professional connections and jobs. What tips do you have for making a great first impression? I’d love to know!