You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So go to the effort to make the right one! Whether you are networking, meeting a client, colleague or business partner, or even going on a date – think about how you want people to think of you, and represent!
Within seven seconds of meeting someone, they have already formed an impression of you, and you have already formed an impression of them. This impression will last for the duration of your relationship, and is crucial in forming solid business relationships and rapport.
So, what can you do in seven seconds that will ensure you make the right first impression?
Firstly, think about where you are and what impression you want to give. From here it is all about living up to your own standards. If you were to meet yourself, what would your impression be? What would you expect from someone in your profession? Are you representing yourself and your profession well?
If you’ve got seven seconds to make the right impression, make every second count. Here are seven things to be aware of when meeting someone for the first time.
- Your Dress Standards
How you dress is extremely important. Ladies, I’m sure you’ve all experienced walking into a room and having another lady look you up and down and judge you. Apparently we all do it – even men. Some people are simply a little more subtle than others. In the first moments of meeting someone, we consider what this person is wearing and whether we consider this person to be trustworthy and professional. So, before heading to an important event or meeting, think about who you are meeting, what role you are playing and whether your clothing represents you well.
- Your Greeting
How you greet someone is especially important – it is the first time this person will hear your voice. Make it count. Think about how you want to be perceived by others and greet people accordingly. Do you want to be confident and strong? Do you want to be perceived as shy and reserved? The way you speak – the tone of your voice, the words you use and the speed in which you talk can all be tailored to the impression you want to make.
- Your Body Language
Research has shown that a person’s non-verbal cues (body language) have four times as much impact on a first impression than the things that are said. Your body language matters! So, think about your posture – stand up tall with your shoulders back; think about where you place your hands – do not cross your arms, keep your body open; think about the direction you are facing – face your body toward the other person keeping a slight angle to show that you are giving them your attention.
- Your Hand-Shake
The way you shake someone’s hand is a physical impression of your character and is a strong part of a first impression. If you are at a networking function, shake someone’s hand like you mean business!
- Your Listening Skills
It’s always a bit of a hit to your ego when someone calls you a different name, right? Your listening skills are particularly important in making a good first impression. By listening, you are showing genuine interest and establishing yourself as a friendly, honest person and good communicator. So, when meeting a new person, during the greeting, as well as throughout the conversation, listen to the other person. Listen to their name, and where they are from, and acknowledge that. This will show that you are a good listener and that you are interested in them.
- Your Facial Expression
Some people’s facial expressions tell a thousand words and can be read like a book. Other people’s facial expressions are difficult to interpret, and hide their true emotions. I’ve been told that my facial expressions speak a thousand words, so I guess you can all read me like a book… But the point I’m trying to make, is be aware of your facial expressions and use them to your advantage. Use your facial expressions to appear friendly and approachable. Smile to show that you are friendly; raise your eyebrows to show your interest.
- Your Eye Contact
Making eye contact with someone shows confidence, interest and it makes you appear approachable. By looking at someone in the eyes you are telling them that you want to talk to them and it will help initiate that first greeting or introduction.
So, next time you go to a networking function or meeting, be prepared to meet someone new, and be prepared to make the right first impression!
If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them! Please share by leaving a comment below.