How to Make a Great First Impression

Whether you’re out networking, meeting a customer for the first time or interviewing potential new employees, making a great first impression is vital.

Research suggests that fairly accurate first impressions are made within as little as 1/10th of a second of meeting someone. Not much time to make sure you come across well then!

So, apart from the usual (and somewhat obvious) ‘dress smart, firm handshake, make eye contact’ advice, what can you do to make sure you make a good first impression…?

Be aware of how you want to be perceived

Making a good first impression will be a lot easier if you understand what exactly a good first impression entails.

Vanessa Van Edwards, CEO of Science of People, suggests becoming aware of how you want to be perceived prior to the meeting….

“As you get ready or when you are driving over think about what kind of people you want to meet and what kind of interactions you want to have. This can be an incredibly grounding experience and works very well to focus on what kind of energy you want to have for your event.”

Add value to the conversation

If you don’t have anything interesting to say, perhaps you shouldn’t say anything at all.

Sally Hogshead, author of How The World Sees You, emphasises how you need to bring value to the conversation…

“You want your listener to come away from the conversation feeling good about their investment of time and energy. What can you contribute to the discussion? For example, has your team recently learned a new way to connect via conference call, or attract new customers? If you’re not adding value, you’re just taking up space.”

Forget about your personal agenda

Its going to be difficult to make a good impression if you’re preoccupied by some personal agenda.

Andrew Vest, Director of Business Development of App Modernization & Cloud Services at Redapt, recommends dropping the agenda and being friendly instead…

“Instead, make it your goal to be open, friendly and honest, and to forge connections between people who may be able to help each other. Generosity is an attractive quality and it’s something special that people will remember about you.”

Learn to deal with pressure

Occasionally, you’re going to have to meet people under pressure. Perhaps you desperately need to make a sale, are meeting a VC for the first time, or you’re at a job interview. Making a good impression is vital, but how do you cope with the stress?

Jeff Vijungco, vice president of Adobe’s Global Talent organization, believes how you handle stress and pressure is key to making a good impression…

“In the business world, people are defined by how they handle stress—it’s called “cope-ability.” Whether you’re presenting in front of a massive audience or dealing with a customer service crisis, nailing the pressure moments will define a lasting impression… So, pay attention to how you handle stress and pressure, and start getting comfortable with it.”

Vijungco recommends pushing yourself out of your comfort zone as much as possible in your daily life to ensure you cope well under pressure when it really counts.

How do you prepare to make a good first impression? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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