Advice for Students

10 Ways to Make a Great First Impression

January 23, 2014  |     |   0 Comment

HandshakeIt only takes five seconds to make a first impression. That’s it.  People start to form an opinion of you from the moment they first meet you. This especially holds holds true for business relationships – from an initial job interview, to interactions with colleagues, to meetings with potential clients.  Implementing the following tips in business situations when you are meeting someone for the first time will help to distinguish you from the competition, enhance your professional presence, and leave a lasting and positive first impression:

1.  Dress for Success

Communication experts believe that 55% of the total message presented by a person during a first meeting consists of that person’s personal appearance. How we dress does have an impact on people’s perception of us. People respond to and give more respect to those who are dressed professionally.

2.  Master Your Handshake

We notice people non-verbally by their touch, and the way we touch someone in business is with our handshake. A handshake is the physical greeting that goes with our words.  When you are first introduced to somebody, give him or her a warm welcome and a firm handshake. Extend your right hand with the thumb up and fingers straight out in a vertical position.  Meet the other person’s hand web-to-web. Shake from the elbow, not the wrist or shoulder. Shake hands by giving two smooth pumps, and be sure to stand in a shoulder-to-shoulder stance. Firm handshakes are a sign of confidence, which is definitely an attitude you will want to convey in a first meeting. Limp handshakes convey a sense of insecurity or dismissal.  Definitely not the message you want to convey.

3.  Smile

The best way to make others comfortable and at ease when you first meet them is by giving them a genuine smile. When you are introduced to them, say their name and let them know what a pleasure it is to meet them, maintaining a smile on your face.

4.  Eye Contact

When you are having your first conversation with somebody, be sure to maintain eye contact. You definitely do not want to come across as a bad listener or somebody who gets easily distracted. Maintaining eye contact during a conversation makes the person with whom you are speaking feel that they are important.  If your eyes are scanning the room during a conversation with another person, for example, you are liable to make that person feel that you are not very interested in what they have to say or that you are looking for somebody better to talk to.

5.  Remember Names

Have you ever met someone and within seconds after meeting them you are asking yourself, “What was her name again?”  You are not alone – but there are ways to help you remember people’s names.  First and foremost, stop telling yourself you don’t remember names and start telling yourself, “I’m good at remembering names.”  It’s all about your mind-set!  Secondly, slow down, listen carefully, and pay attention when you meet a new person.  Use the person’s name in conversation, and use it often. Repetition builds memory. This will do double-duty, as most people like to have their name said in conversation.

6.  Be a Good Listener

When having a conversation with someone, make sure to let him or her know in a subtle manner that you are paying attention to what is being said. Do not be afraid to nod your head and chime in with the occasional, “I see,” or “I understand,” or any other verbal cue that shows the other person that you are indeed listening attentively.  Never, ever interrupt when someone else is speaking.  Interrupting someone in mid-sentence is extremely rude and will count as one strike against you in just about any business setting.

7.  Ask Questions

During a conversation, make sure to ask questions.  Asking questions shows the other person that you are interested in who they are and what they have to say.  Once the conversation has finished, they will leave thinking that you were very attentive and a good conversationalist.

8.  Avoid Hogging the Spotlight

Let the other person be the centre of attention. Never hog the spotlight. Do not talk on and on about yourself as you will leave the impression of being egotistical rather than appearing as someone who could help others further their business.  Ask the other person about himself or herself and let that person be the centre of attention. You will not only appear to be gracious, but you will also learn more about the person you are dealing with. Pay close attention to the conversation as those little details may be useful in the future.

9.  Be Aware of Your Posture

Good posture is a must if you wish to leave a first great impression.  Good posture instantly creates an impression of confidence and sets the stage for others to accept you as a winner.  When standing or seated always keep your back straight, shoulders back, arms to the side and chin up so you are able to make appropriate eye contact.

10.  Say “Thank You”

Never end a conversation or meeting without saying “thank you” or “it was a pleasure to meet you.”  Ending a conversation graciously and professionally with another person will leave a lasting and positive impression.

Implementing these tips in business situations when you are meeting someone for the first time will help to distinguish yourself from the competition, enhance your professional presence, and leave a lasting and positive first impression – all which will help to open the door to building stronger and more profitable professional relationships.

If you’d like to learn more about how to make a great first impression through the power of your professional and personal brand, check out my upcoming event! 


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