How are you when it comes to first impressions? Do you have what it takes to impress others right off the bat? Or, do you wish you could get a do-over and maybe go about it a different way? It’s so cliché, but unfortunately, it’s true: As it's often said, 'you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Even if you overcome a bad first impression the first one can never be utterly changed.
At the dawn of a new year, most of us plan our year in terms of our next career move, business or product ideas, networking opportunities, family commitments etc. In doing so, we must be aware of the first impressions when we connect.
First Impressions Matter
So why are first impressions so important? Do they really matter that much? The fact is, they do. Of course, not everyone you meet is going to have a huge impact on your life, and vise versa. However, when it comes to meeting important people in critical situations, your first impression could haunt you for a while. Here’s why. People make judgments all the time. In fact, every time you meet someone you make judgments about that person. Right off the bat, even if you don’t consciously realise it, you are making important determinations about anyone you meet. Remember, 'People buy you first before they buy your product or service'.
You might decide whether or not you can trust this person. You might determine in an instant if this person deserves your respect or not. You might even decide in that very first moment if you ever want to spend time with this person again. These are crucial decisions because if you give off an impression that you can’t be trusted or respected then you are likely damaging your potential for success. So how do you make sure that you are giving the right first impression?
Tips for Success
If you want to make a good first impression then you need to keep these tips in mind.
Start With Positive Body Language
The way you approach a person, how you look at them, and even your posture will play a role in how that person judges you. Your body gestures and facial expressions should express positive, confident feelings. Listen First, Speak Second–of course, someone has to speak first, but if you allow the other person to speak you show that you care about his or her thoughts and opinions. If you speak first it can be a sign of control, which can lead to mistrust. If you do have to speak first, try to start with a question. Then listen.
How's your handshake? Is it limpy or confident? A confident handshake is one that's firm and makes eye contact with your guest or business prospect. Do you have a frown or a smile? Remember in the new world of work, 'Your smile is your New Logo'. Research shows that in communication, your body language or nonverbal cues play a whopping 55% of the way people perceive you while your voice and words only play 38% and 7% respectively.
Small Talk Is Good
It’s usually a good idea to engage in some “small talk.” Just shoot the breeze for a few minutes in order to allow the person some relaxed time to formulate an opinion. Small talk is good but it's also professional not to be over-familiar as some may find it off-putting.
Know Before You Go
While it’s not always possible, if you have a planned first-time meeting, like a job interview, for example, it’s a good idea to learn about the person, to a certain extent, before the meeting takes place. This will help the person you’re meeting with trust you more because you’ve taken the time to learn about them on your own. It also shows initiative and competence.
Seize the Opportunity
In many situations in life, making a positive first impression is crucial, especially in the business world. So remember these tips and make sure you are ready the next time you meet someone for the first time in 2018.
About Em Bartels
Em Bartels is the founder And Executive director of ExcellConsulting GH, Excell Branding GH, a personal branding expert and Executive coach with an extensive track record of building incredible personal brands that help executives to stand out, become visible and attract a passionate tribe.