It takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed.
With every new encounter, you are evaluated and yet another person’s impression of you is formed. These first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making those first encounters extremely important, for they set the tone for all the relationships that follows.
So, whether they are in your career or social life, it’s important to know how to create a good first impression. This article provides some useful tips to help you do this.
Be on Time
Someone you are meeting for the first time is not interested in your “good excuse” for running late. Plan to arrive a few minutes early. And allow flexibility for possible delays in traffic or taking a wrong turn. Arriving early is much better that arriving late, hands down, and is the first step in creating a great first impression.
Be Yourself, Be at Ease
If you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge, this can make the other person ill at ease and that’s a sure way to create the wrong impression. If you are calm and confident, so the other person will feel more at ease, and so have a solid foundation for making that first impression a good one.
Present Yourself Appropriately
Of course physical appearance matters. The person you are meeting for the first time does not know you and your appearance is usually the first clue he or she has to go on.
But it certainly does not mean you need to look like a model to create a strong and positive first impression. (Unless you are interviewing with your local model agency, of course!)
No. The key to a good impression is to present yourself appropriately.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so the “picture” you first present says much about you to the person you are meeting. Is your appearance saying the right things to help create the right first impression?
Start with the way you dress. What is the appropriate dress for the meeting or occasion? In a business setting, what is the appropriate business attire? Suit, blazer, casual? And ask yourself what the person you’ll be meeting is likely to wear – if your contact is in advertising or the music industry, a pinstripe business suit may not strike the right note!
For business and social meetings, appropriate dress also varies between countries and cultures, so it’s something that you should pay particular attention to when in an unfamiliar setting or country. Make sure you know the traditions and norms.
And what about your grooming? Clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for most business and social occasions. A good haircut or shave. Clean and tidy clothes. Neat and tidy make up. Make sure your grooming is appropriate and helps make you feel “the part”.
Appropriate dressing and grooming help make a good first impression and also help you feel “the part”, and so feel more calm and confident. Add all of this up and you are well on your way to creating a good first impression.
A Word About Individuality
The good news is you can usually create a good impression without total conformity or losing your individuality. Yes, to make a good first impression you do need to “fit in” to some degree. But it all goes back to being appropriate for the situation. If in a business setting, wear appropriate business attire. If at a formal evening social event, wear appropriate evening attire. And express your individuality appropriately within that context.
A Winning smile
As the saying goes, “Smile and the world smiles too.” So there’s nothing like a smile to create a good first impression. A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease. So smiling is a winner when it comes to great first impressions. But don’t go overboard with this – people who take this too far can seem insincere and smarmy, or can be seen to be “lightweights.”
Be Open and Confident
When it comes to making the first impression, body language as well as appearance speaks much louder than words.
Use your body language to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance. Stand tall, smile (of course), make eye contact, greet with a firm handshake. All of this will help you project confidence and encourage both you and the other person to feel better at ease.
Almost everyone gets a little nervous when meeting someone for the first time, which can lead to nervous habits or sweaty palms. By being aware of your nervous habits, you can try to keep them in check. And controlling a nervous jitter or a nervous laugh will give you confidence and help the other person feel at ease.
Small Talk Goes a Long Way
Conversations are based on verbal give and take. It may help you to prepare questions you have for the person you are meeting for the first time beforehand. Or, take a few minutes to learn something about the person you meet for the first time before you get together. For instance, does he play golf? Does she work with a local charitable foundation?
Is there anything that you know of that you have in common with the person you are meeting? If so, this can be a great way to open the conversation and to keep it flowing.
Your attitude shows through in everything you do. Project a positive attitude, even in the face of criticism or in the case of nervousness. Strive to learn from your meeting and to contribute appropriately, maintaining an upbeat manner and a smile.
Be Courteous and Attentive
It goes without saying that good manners and polite, attentive and courteous behavior help make a good first impression. In fact, anything less can ruin the one chance you have at making that first impression. So be on your best behavior!
One modern manner worth mentioning is “turn off your mobile phone”. What first impression will you create if you are already speaking to someone other than the person you are meeting for the first time? Your new acquaintance deserves 100% of your attention. Anything less and you’ll create a less than good first impression.
No. 1: Become an attractive person—from the inside out.
Here’s how: Who do you want to make a good first impression with? What caliber and type of person?
1. Write a long list of their attributes. These are attributes of character, attitude, mindset and philosophy. Make a long list and then boil it down to a half-dozen.
2. Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 on each of those half-dozen attributes. Now wherever you are short you now have your personal development plan to improve your first impression to your intended flock.
3. Write out all the observations you make about your desired flock. How they walk, talk, carry themselves, shake hands and interact with others. How they dress, what they talk about and care about. Start adopting these behavioral and visual cues.
No 2: Stop faking it.
Be real, be transparent, be authentic and be yourself… hopefully your improved self after working on point No 1
Too often people spend incredible amounts of energy trying to project themselves as something they’re not. Most of their conversation is spent trying to impress and they think they have everyone snookered.
Here is the reality: no one is fooled.
People are always transparent… even when they think they aren’t.
I’m sure you meet people all the time who say all the right things, look the part, but you just know, in your gut, even if you can’t put your intellectual finger on it, that they are full of hooey.
We are all intuitive and sensitive beings. We can feel the truth. We can sense authenticity and we can sense when it isn’t present. Projecting pretense only pushes people away from you—quickly and regularly.
Your real self—the one that isn’t king of the hill, has fears, is concerned about family and has a genuine passion for a product, service or helping other people succeed—is far more attractive to people than anything else.
I think the era of “fake it till you make it” of the ’80s and ’90s has passed. People are smarter today and more than ever are looking for authenticity.
Now let me be clear, no matter where you are in your business, in your financial success or in life, I DO want you to start dressing the part and walking the walk. I want you to start representing your elevated self. I want those things to be demonstrations of your new commitment to be better, show up better and live better. I’m talking about not fibbing on the truth.
No. 3: Treat people… like people.
I remember a mentor of mine when I was in real estate corrected me on this. I was having a discussion and I showed him my “Hit List” of target prospects. He said, “Hit List? Who wants to be your next HIT?! These are real people, real families, who will be going through one of the most emotional transactions of their life, involving the most valuable asset they own—their home.
Not until this list is considered the list of those families whom you will help, protect and fight for next, will they be interested in what you have to say.” That was great advice. It is not just semantics; it is an entirely different philosophy, mindset and emotional approach to every conversation and human interaction.
Don’t treat people like targets, capital, pawns or even prospects or just customers. Treat people like people… people with real desires, fears, hopes, wishes, worries, dreams and ambitions… just like you.
No. 4: Take a sincere interest in other people.
The best way to do this is to talk less and listen more. Make fewer statements, ask more questions. Everyone wants to work on their script: What do I say? Instead, it’s better to work on your questions. What questions will draw people out so they talk about their real values, interests, hopes and desires. Once others express what they really want, it’s much easier to match your potential solution to their real and personally expressed needs.
You have just a few seconds to make a good first impression and it’s almost impossible ever to change it. So it’s worth giving each new encounter your best shot.
Much of what you need to do to make a good impression is common sense. But with a little extra thought and preparation, you can hone your intuitive style and make every first impression not just good but great.
For more information and training, click here!
References… www.darrenhardy.success.com, www.mindtools.com
Ben is a Commercial Airline pilot with Southwest Airlines and has been flying Commercially for over 27 years. Ben is also a LIFE-Leadership business owner, entrepreneur, Realtor, blog author, husband, friend, educator, coach, mentor and founder/owner of the THE LEADERSHIP LANDING.
THE LEADERSHIP LANDING was founded, created and designed to specifically combine a unique blend of leadership principles and practices utilized in today’s modern airline cockpit, along with the leadership training and education from award winning corporation, LIFE Inc, a global leadership service provider.
THE LEADERSHIP LANDING specializes in Corporate Leadership Training, Financial Education, Airline and other professional interview & Resume preparation, Personal Development, Life Coaching, business consulting, inspiration, motivation, success training & much more.
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