We have all done it – met someone for the first time and generally within a mere few seconds, a glance or two, formed an opinion about the other person based upon their appearance, their demeanor, their body language or the clothes they are wearing.
Well, guess what – they’re doing the same thing to you. Every single new encounter you have, you’re being evaluated, graded, and assessed. First impressions happen and they are generally very hard to undo which is what makes them so very important. Your first impression will set the tone for the authenticity of the relationship you will have or not have with that individual.
Regardless of whether it’s a social event or business encounter, it is vitally important to create a “good” first impression. Here are several tips that will help you to represent the “real” you at that key moment.
Be on Time
Always be on time. The person you’re meeting is not at all interested in your excuse for why you ran late. It is always a good idea to arrive a few minutes early, but not more than 10 minutes early – I say. This will give you an opportunity to collect yourself and take in your surroundings. This is a major plus to creating that good first impression, especially if you’re going to a business meeting.
Do not attempt to be or pretend to be something you’re not, you will come across as being disingenuous and in-authentic and this will immediately be picked up on by the other person. We have all heard that little voice or gut feeling when we meet someone that tells us this person is full of it. Just be yourself.
Be at Ease
If you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge, it is very likely that you’ll make the person you’re meeting with feel the same way and that’s a sure way to create the wrong impression. When you’re calm and confident, the other person will feel more at ease with you and what you have to say.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and so the “picture” you first present says a lot about you to the person you are meeting. This doesn’t mean you need to look like a super model to create a strong and positive first impression.
If you’re going for an interview, call ahead and find out what the “dress” for the office is. If you’re meeting someone for that first date, is your appearance saying the right things to help create the right first impression?
A clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for any occasion; a good haircut or shave; clean and tidy clothes; neat and tidy make up. Make sure your grooming is appropriate. Miniskirts, low cut shirts, and t-shirts are never appropriate business attire and may not be the best way to present yourself for the first time at a social event either. This does not mean you have to go out and dress like every other worker-bee but your attire does need to “fit in” to some degree so express your individuality appropriately within that context.
Smile, smile, and smile!
As the saying goes, “…smile and the world smiles with you.” A good smile is a great way to create a good first impression. Don’t fake it and a warm and confident smile will put you and the other person at ease. Remember; don’t go overboard with the smile this can make you seem insincere or cheesy, as the expression goes.
Body Language – Be Open and Confident
In addition to your clothing, body language is another thing that can speak much louder than words when it comes to making a good first impression. Stand (sit) tall, smiles (of course), make eye contact, greet with a firm handshake, don’t fidget or let your eyes wander about the room – this will help you project confidence and poise.
Have a genuine conversation
Conversations are an exercise in verbal give and take. Don’t be an attention hog – it’s not about you, it’s about the other person. Give them the opportunity to speak – you’re there to have a conversation not delivery your presidential acceptance speech.
Sometimes the other person may be a little gun-shy, so it may help to have some questions for the person you are meeting for the first time beforehand to help spur the conversation. Or, you can take a few minutes to learn something about the person you’re going to meet beforehand – does he play golf?; is she into dancing; do they work with a local charity?; or the like.
A word of warning – if you are not actually interested in the thing or topic you discover about this person you’re meeting do not try to talk to about it. They will pick up on the insincerity and that will not lead to a good first impression.
A positive attitude goes a long way when creating a good first impression. It will show through in everything you do and in what you say. No one likes to be around nay-sayers, negative-nancies, or doom & gloomers. Maintain a positive attitude, even in the face of criticism.
Good manners and attentive courteous behavior will always help to make a good first impression. So be on your best behavior! Anything less could ruin the one chance you have at making that good first impression. So, turn off your cell phone and give that person your full attention. If you can’t devote an uninterrupted 5 minutes, half hour or hour to the person you’re meeting with, why should they do the same for you?
First impressions happen only once and it’s near impossible to change if you’ve made it a bad one. Give every new encounter your best shot, if you’re not willing to do that it’s better you not meet at all. Remember to put into practice the tips listed here, and if you add a little common sense plus a little forethought and preparation you can make every first impression not just good but great.
Michael McIntyre is the CEO and President of The Authentic Salesman, a Dallas-based consulting and sales training firm. In addition to being a professional sales trainer, Michael is also a renown keynote and motivational speaker who specializes in helping CEOs improve brand traction and increase ROI, sales, and employee performance by creating authenticity in the workplace.
In his 27 years in the sales industry, Michael has generated more than $ 3 billion in sales, recruited and trained over 20,000 sales agents, and has opened offices in more than forty states. His leadership grew a start-up insurance company from $ 25 million in assets to over $ 15 billion in less than 10 years and revolutionized the insurance industry with a unique formula for generating prospects for his agents. During his time in the insurance sales industry, Michael has received numerous Top Agent and Top Agency performance awards, as well as the National #1Recruiting Agency award.
Michael is the creator of “The Authenticity Ratio” which is a highly rated keynote and training topic that has transcended industry borders from insurance to real estate to professional sports teams. He is also the author of “The Authentic Salesman” and several articles on sales training, leadership and personal change. Michael has been featured on FOX, CBS, TheStreet.Com, Business Insider, Forbes, US News & World Report, The Huffington Post and many other publication for his unique insight not only in sales and leadership but on breaking topical issues.
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