Good first impressions can be great–but a lasting first impressions are better. A good impression might be pleasant, but quickly forgotten, but a lasting impression, well, lasts…
Human beings are visual creatures by nature and they instantly notice their physical appearance before anything else. This is why the first mantra for first impressions is to dress for success. You only have a few seconds to make a lasting impression at this first, visual level.
It’s a good idea to keep the occasion, the audience, the place and even the weather into account when you dress. Be subtle in your clothing choices on the first meeting and don’t go over the top with colors and accessories. A simple combination of white and black can do wonders in itself – loud style statements take a person’s attention away from your skills and your personality that goes beyond your clothing.
Present yourself with confidence when you meet someone for the first time. The best way to do this is just to be yourself. Nervousness and tension are natural at crucial first meetings such as interviews, and if you find yourself being overtly nervous, use some relaxation techniques to calm yourself. It is extremely important to present yourself as you really are rather than aim ton please or project something false. Be confident about yourself and be interested in what others have to say. You will come across as not only a genuine person, but one who likes to listen to others as well.
If it’s a formal event or meeting you’re headed to, plan your day well in advance. A lack of respect for time, both the other person’s and yours can ruin first impressions instantly. Chances are the person will remember you as the interviewee or the guest who came late – forgetting all about your skills and qualifications you wished to present to them. Even if it is an informal event, arriving on time gives you a chance to mingle with others easily without those awkward explanations about your tardiness. People like those who appreciate the fact that others are busy, and who value whatever time someone has carved out for them. If you’re going for an important meeting, it’s best to plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early – this will give you a chance to get comfortable with your surroundings, collect your thoughts and prevent last minute anxiety.
Pay Attention to Names
When you meet people and get introduced to them, pay special attention to their names. Although it is possible to just talk to a person without saying their name, if you do use someone’s name in a conversation it will show that you have been paying attention and value them. This will make them feel more connected to you as the meeting progresses. By using names, you are making conversations more personal, and this is a quality which never fails to impress others. Making the effort to remember someone’s name comes across as both a skill and a positive character trait.
Monitor Your Tone
People often remember others by the tone of voice in which they talk to them. A brash, loud tone comes across as undesirable and can create dislike in a person. Similarly, if a person is too whiny, or even condescending at the first meeting, they are most likely to ruin their first impressions. Adjusting your tone of voice according to your audience is difficult – you might want to strike the perfect balance between composed and enthusiastic, determined and modest, confident and grounded. This comes with practice, so start paying attention to your tone when you have conversations with others and work on developing the tone you wish to project in the future.
Body Language Matters
Your body language can speak louder than your words. Sometimes you are unaware of the body posture you’re maintaining in front of someone, which might be contradictory to the words you are using in conversation. While you might be trying to sound composed while talking, actions such cracking your knuckles, constant foot tapping or lack of eye contact might suggest otherwise. Pay attention the way you sit, stand, smile and shake hands with people because these non-verbal cues can have a big impact on your first impressions. Try to be at ease, while still maintaining a strong posture. Folding your arms in front of your chest or slouching against something can give the impression of being uninterested or unprofessional.
Before you meet someone for the first time, try and gather as much information about them or the institution they work for as possible. Knowing these details can help you start a conversation and connect better. If you’re going for an interview, research the place well and make sure you use this information at crucial moments where it can create an impact. If you’re meeting someone for work related purposes, get the required materials you will need – print resumes, documents, projects/presentations, transcripts, letters, case studies etc. and organize them into a document folder. Having a backup in the form of a hardcopy can be helpful in case your laptop or computer fails you. Use social media to gather professional information about a person, and make it a point to go through a company or college’s website before you proceed with a meeting.