They say first impressions count. And while this may sound like a cliché, it’s absolutely true. The point is this: unless you make a good impression during the initial meeting, you’re going to have a hard time down the line.
In this post, we’re going to help you with that. You’ll learn how to make a great first impression and connect with anyone you meet.
1. Dress Well
The first thing people judge you on is your physical appearance. This is unfortunate, but you have to accept that people make snap judgments based on how you look. That means if you want to make a positive first impression, you need to dress well.
Also, try to dress appropriately for the occasion. You’ll want to dress differently for casual meetings compared to something like a job interview. If you are unsure about what to wear, err on the side of being overdressed rather than underdressed.
2. Show Up on Time
If it’s your first meeting, then make sure to arrive on time. Some people think that to arrive on time, you have to be early. In other words, at the exact time = late.
The best way to make sure this happens is by traveling to the meeting place the night before, if possible. If not possible, make sure to get detailed directions that include parking or public transportation details. Leave much earlier than you think you need to leave. This way, you can calmly handle unforeseen delays and issues, still be on time, and not arrived frazzled.
This goes without saying. That being said, many people get nervous and forget to smile, so keep this in mind. You should also learn how to convey a genuine smile. Fake smiles are easily detected and extremely off-putting. The best way to do this is by being in a good mood when meeting people. That way, you’ll smile naturally.
4. Utilize Small Talk
Next time you have a business meeting with a potential client, don’t immediately launch into your pitch. This can make you seem cold, mechanical, and off-putting. Always start with a few minutes of small talk. Ask about their hobbies, interests, and try to find common ground. You may also want to prepare some talking points or questions beforehand.
5. Be Positive
A positive attitude will take you places. After all, most of us prefer to work with positive people. This means you should stick to uplifting topics and avoid bringing up issues in your personal life. For example, if you’re having a bad day, don’t talk about it. Along with this, you must control your reaction to bad news. Instead of getting upset, you should have a positive reaction to setbacks and problems.
6. Be Courteous
Good manners go a long way towards leaving a great impression on people. Be polite and also say please and thank you. Something else you should do is turn off your phone at the beginning of the meeting. There’s no better way to make a negative first impression than by taking calls or looking at your phone.
7. Control Nervous Habits
Tapping your foot, biting your nails, or chewing on pens will leave a negative impression. In addition to this, you should learn how to control your verbal tics. These include filler words like um or huh. These ticks can make you seem stupid or as if you’re not paying attention.
8. Remember the Person’s Name
If you’re being introduced to a new client, make sure to pay close attention when exchanging names. You can also learn mnemonic devices to help you remember names. If you do forget their name, avoid asking for it. Doing this will immediately destroy any positive impression you may have made. Remember, there is no sweeter sound than your own name.
9. Pay Attention to Your Body Language
The way you use your body gives off nonverbal cues. You need to convey comfort and confidence through your body. Start with a firm handshake and learn to control your facial expressions. Make eye contact (this is important in western countries) but avoid too much eye contact.
Also, pay attention to your tone of voice and hand gestures. It helps to speak clearly, slowly, and in a deeper voice. Research shows that this makes people take you more seriously. It’s actually a good idea to give this a bit of practice and work on your voice and speaking style.
Something else you may want to explore is the concept of power poses. This is the idea that your body language affects your emotions and helps you project confidence. Some examples of these include:
- Sitting up straight
- Walking with your chest held high
- Leaning back in the chair with hands behind your head
- Standing with hands on your hips and feet apart
- Spreading your hands out on the table
10. Get Enough Sleep
People underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Being tired makes it harder to put your best foot forward. The last thing you want is to show up with bags beneath your eyes and yawn throughout the meeting. Prevent this by going to bed early the day before important meetings.
Make sure to avoid caffeine and staring at screens before you go to bed so that you get a better night’s sleep. You may want to read a book, journal, or meditate before you sleep to help your sleep and wake up relaxed, mentally sharp, and ready for your meeting.
11. Follow Up
Always follow up after meeting new people or attending a networking event (this is why you need to get their contact details and phone number.) Even if you don’t close the deal, you should call or send a thank you note. In this note, you can mention what you spoke about and try to move the deal forward.
At the very least, you can “like” their social media, send a text message, or leave your business card (this is just good business etiquette.) People tend to appreciate these small gestures, and you may even get a second chance or overcome a bad first impression.
12. Focus on the Other Person
Avoid hogging attention and talking about yourself too much. Become an active listener and, more importantly, a good listener. Listen more than you talk. Make the other person feel important and allow them to speak about their problems, issues, and what they want.
13. Engage Them
It’s important to listen, but you also need to add things to the conversation and show that you’re paying attention. A great way to do this is by using questions or taking notes. You can also summarize, recap the conversation, or ask them to clarify things.
14. Be Genuine
Avoid putting on a show or trying to impress the other person. Don’t worry about acting the right way, saying the right thing, being perfect, or agreeing on everything. Sometimes it’s actually better to disagree, make mistakes, and show a bit of vulnerability. This makes you seem more human and likable. It also goes a long way towards leaving a great impression.
15. Prepare Beforehand
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. You need to know your audience. This is especially important if you’re interviewing for a new job. Study up and learn everything you can about the company, industry, and your potential employer. This will give you a competitive edge and help to boost your confidence.
16. Think about What You Say
Choose your words carefully and pause before speaking. Try to use persuasive language that gets your point across. Say things that will put you and the other person in a positive light.
17. Decide What You Want
Before meeting someone for the first time, you should come up with an ultimate aim, intention, or goal for the meeting. This gives you something to work towards. It also helps to guide you and provides a purpose for your communication.
18. Develop Your Elevator Pitch
This is a simple way to put the right foot forward. In case you don’t know, an elevator pitch is a short description of what your company does or who you are. This is a good way to anchor yourself in the person’s mind and give new connections something to think about.
19. Control the Setting
You’ll leave a better first impression if you decide the time and place where you meet. This is important because the setting will affect your mood, emotions, and confidence. You should choose a place where you’ve met people before or somewhere that you’re familiar with. If you’re unhappy with the setting, then find a better place. It also helps to select a setting that makes the other person feel comfortable.
20. Stand Out & Be Memorable (in a good way)
It helps if you’re a little bit different. You can do this by talking about interesting things, telling dramatic stories, and dressing out of the ordinary (just avoid dressing too strangely.) If you have unique hobbies or facts about yourself, then mention these as well.
21. Have a Sense of Humor
A lot of people take themselves far too seriously. Instead, learn to laugh at yourself, keep the mood light, and try to have a sense of humor. It also helps if you can tell jokes and make the other person laugh (just be careful when doing this.)
22. Use Activities
Long conversations are not always ideal when you need to make important first impressions. A good example of this is when you’re meeting new colleagues or trying to make friends with new coworkers. In this type of situation, you’re better off bonding over shared activities. For example, you may want to use team-building activities. This is a great way to show that you’re a team player – plus, it helps you build relationships with team members.
23. Take the Lead
Most people wait for someone else to make the first move. The good news is that there’s nothing stopping you from going first. Take the initiative by introducing yourself, striking up a conversation, and getting the ball rolling. Only good things can come from doing this. If you’re in a professional setting, then volunteer for new projects or do more than expected. This is also an excellent way to get your career off to a great start.
24. Don’t Worry About Being Right
Too many people ruin the positive impact they make by insisting on being right. Avoid doing this at all costs. Always let the other person be right – even if they’re wrong. You don’t need a good reason to do this. Just remember that it’s helpful if you want to make the best first impression.
25. Don’t Spend Too Much Time Thinking About Things
Yes, it’s important to spend extra time preparing, but you don’t want to get stuck in your head or obsess over getting a positive reaction. Doing this can actually cause you to leave a bad impression. When meeting a new person, it’s best to find a middle ground where you try your best, but don’t care about the outcome.
First impressions get made in a matter of seconds and last forever. If you’re meeting a lot of people, then you must master this soft skill. With the above tips, you’ll be able to pull this off in different situations and hopefully turn these meetings into permanent relationships.
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