Our parents may have told us, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Judgments can be made in as little as three seconds; Use this time to “wow!” you.
Whether you’re going for an interview for the job of your life or preparing for a first date, there are some things that all first impressions have in common.
Make eye contact first; it shows that you are paying attention. Maintaining eye contact during the conversation is a sign of respect.
Next smile; it conveys trust and sincerity. You can also convey positive body language by sitting up straight and holding your head up to look comfortable and confident.
If you don’t feel brave, fake it. If necessary, think of yourself as an actor playing a bold character. Listen more than you talk, and the other person will think you’re the best communicator they’ve spoken to today—and maybe all week.
A good first impression is crucial in the business world because it sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. Do you look well cut and crisp? A neat and professional appearance conveys intelligence, success and trustworthiness. Research the company so you can talk about it intelligently – this will also tell you what level of formality is appropriate for your attire.
Practice your elevator pitch, no longer than a minute, and keep this introduction short and concise. Start with a firm handshake. Mirror the tone and body language of the other person. If they’re fast-paced, stay tuned. When they’re relaxed, sit back and let them make small talk, smile, and nod while you listen intently. Always be enthusiastic without overdoing it; passion goes far.
Just as you wouldn’t be late for a business appointment, allow extra time so you’re not late for what might be the most important meeting of your life: a first date. Dress a little fancier than you would for a second or third date. Wearing a favorite outfit gives you confidence in your demeanor. Keep the perfume or cologne subtle.
Don’t come up with a bullet point interview list, even if it’s speed dating; Be ready to talk about hobbies, interests, movies, music, travel, and maybe your job or kids, but don’t pull out that phone photo album just yet.
Two big don’ts: Don’t let your eyes or attention wander and don’t share too much as it can be uncomfortable. A sense of mystery is fascinating.
Whether it’s new colleagues, neighbors, or the PTA, show your enthusiasm for being part of the organization, neighborhood, or group. Find out everyone’s names as soon as possible. Offer a warm smile and a brief greeting when you see her. Be friendly but not intrusive; Always avoid office politics and neighborhood gossip, and change the subject when they arise. Asking for advice is a reliable icebreaker; It’s human nature to want to help – but don’t use someone else’s expertise or talent. Consider inviting the neighbors over for a housewarming or BBQ, or inviting your co-workers for an after-work drink.
Emails, text messages and posts on Facebook and LinkedIn are often the first impression. Take a moment to review your social media profile pictures, bios, and info. Make them consistent; Conflicting information sends a bad signal. Remove potentially embarrassing data, or at least make it “private.”
When dealing with non-verbal communication such as email, text and instant messages, respond quickly and eliminate unnecessary information – shorter is better. Be clear but not concise. Add personal touches or humor where appropriate and be yourself.
Most importantly, proofread each sentence before sending it out!