It takes between few seconds and few minutes to make a first impression. When you meet someone for the first time, they are taking a rapid inventory of your gait, your smile, your handshake, and how you present yourself. As you are making your approach, they are deciding if they can trust you, if you are genuinely nice, if they want to know and work with you--so many questions are answered in those first few critical seconds based on what they see, and how you make them feel.
The best way to make a positive first impression, especially in business, is to embrace uncommon common sense. Many entrepreneurs overlook the importance of poise and professionalism. A few common courtesies will help you make a positive impression when you meet someone for the first time.
Use these tips to guarantee you’ll make a great first, and lasting, impression — no matter the circumstance.
First impressions are formed in 7 seconds. That’s before you have a chance to say much of anything. So what are people forming those impressions from?
Your attitude. Which is primarily conveyed by your smile (or lack thereof).
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Keep in mind, smiling doesn’t mean just baring your teeth. The genuine Duchene smile engages the muscles around the eye. This is the smile you want to mark your first impression. Smiling also has the added benefit of releasing dopamine into your system. So you will actually feel happier and free you from stress. That virtuous cycle can make all the difference in making an impression.
As Benjamin Franklin famously said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Perhaps it’s a case of reading up on the people you’re going to meet, or doing some research on the location or company, or simply working out alternative routes to get there in case of traffic.
Watch The Body Language
Your body language silently speaks volumes. Studies have proven that it has four times more influence on first impressions than anything you actually say. Genuine smiles are a winning ticket for creating a great first impression, as is a firm handshake and purposeful eye contact. Stand tall and be proud of who you are.
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Turn Off Your Cell Phone
Nothing kills a great first impression faster than someone's cell phone making constant vibration or sounds. Turn it off. And don't even think about responding to a text message or answering your phone if it rings.
Use People’s Names
As Dale Carnegie said “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Remember people’s names and they’ll immediately like you. A great way to remember names AND generate goodwill is by make a habit of quickly saying someone’s name back to them. So when you find out a guy is named John you can follow up with, “So what brings you here today, John?” Or “Nice to meet you John!” Saying someone’s name out a loud a few times really makes it stick.
This is the most important of the five skills because it’s where you physically connect with the other person. The two of you join your good intentions towards one another with a physical seal of approval. Your handshake is your personal olive branch and welcome mat. Always try to be the first to extend your hand.
To be prepared to shake hands if you’re right-handed, make it a habit to carry everything in your left hand: papers, books, laptop cases, purses, drinks…you name it; carry it in your left hand so you’re always ready to shake hands without losing a few of your precious ten seconds with awkward moments of shifting items from your right to left hand before you can accept an outstretched hand.
Ask questions that matter, encourage them to elaborate, let them know you're listening - and then, ofcourse, actually listen. Having a genuine curiosity about another person's life gives them the confidence to open up a bit more. And on the other end, make sure your own responses are more than just bare bones. Don't just answer what you do for a living. Share why you chose that career, the people you enjoy working with; maybe even ask for advice. Giving them a few personal details of your own will open the door to a more meaningful conversation. Just remember the two big don't's here: no complaining, and no over-sharing. This is only the first impression, after all.
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Don't Forget To Follow Up
After an initial meeting, don't forget to follow up by sending any necessary information -- notes, presentation docs, next steps, and so on -- or sending a thank you note. These small gestures will help prove that you're on the ball, and that you're making them a priority, rather than just another task to check off your to-do list.
Sending out updated information after a meeting can also be a way to get a second chance at a first impression. How so? It helps to show another side of you or your business -- perhaps a more responsible side. In fact, a Stanford study revealed that adding more external factors can actually mitigate the effect of a negative first impression.
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Don't let a negative first impression get in the way of your ability to get to know someone. Follow these nine tips to ensure that the first time you meet with someone won't be the last.