Your entire life can depend on how you a make an impression, not just a first impression but all impressions. Think of an impression as a stamp, when you make an impression on someone, you’re making a stamp on their brain, heart, soul or all of the above. First impressions especially have resulted in jobs, marriages and many new opportunities…if they’re good. If they’re bad, the opposite: losing jobs, failing marriages and lost opportunities. Here’s how to make a good impression and avoid making a bad one. Keep in mind, this is not only for business for day to day life as well.
Lets talk about first impressions. There are people who have devoted their entire lives to how first impressions work. They monitor people, unknowing, to read their body language, facial expressions and how they talk as well as how the others react in the same way before, during and after. I could go on forever about what they discovered, but here are some basic points. First of all, know your audience. Who are you meeting? What are they like? What do they know about you? What do you know about them? If you don’t know you’re meeting someone but get introduced by surprise, BE QUIET! Do not say a word to them unless spoken to otherwise because this will be your opportunity to gauge who you’re speaking to. They could be an average joe or they could be someone of extreme importance, so this is why you be quiet and listen. Observing the person you are going to be engaging is important to planning the proper approach.
Not to negate that last statement, BUT, a strong introduction is always a good move for making a good impression. Always look directly into someone’s eyes when you’re shaking hands with them to show you’re not afraid or disingenuous. This does not mean that right after you should start blabbing. This is when you let the lesson from the last paragraph kick in and let the damn person talk! There’s nothing more rude than someone who tramples a conversation with bad anecdotes and pointless small talk about their weekend in Kalamazoo. If it were me, I’d tell the person they lost my interest and tell them to move on. I know it sounds harsh, but this is what I do for a living and hearing some boring babble is not in my schedule. However, if they want to be concise, polite and genuine then I’m all ears.
Body language. Another big one. There’s always the question of what to do with your hands, how long you can look someone in the eye without seeming like an axe murderer and if sweating like an animal is appropriate. The answers are simple: if you must put your hands anywhere, pockets are fine so long as you DO NOT fidget like you have Parkinson’s disease. Also, it’s known that crossing your arms is a big no-no. Look in to the eye of the person you’re talking to hen you’re talking to them, simple as that. And if you’re sweating profusely, you’d better have a damned good reason for it. Think of it like this, if you were in their shoes and you saw them sweating like an animal, what would you think?
Remember—always, and I mean always—be relaxed! Higher ups can smell fear from the moment they see you, it’s their job, so when you walk up cool as a cucumber you’ll look a lot better than Jittery Jones. On that matter, do not drink too much coffee or else you’ll look like the aforementioned Mr. Jones. MANNERS! I can’t stress this enough. Good manners are always top when it comes to these types of things. Do not fart, if you must burp then be discreet, sneeze into your sleeve, don’t swear, don’t chew gum, all the things your mother taught you when you were young. This might be belabouring, but you’d be surprised how many people do this on a regular basis…”Hi my name BWWAAARRRPPP.” Oh yeah, SAY EXCUSE ME!
These are your basics for first impressions: be polite, be courteous, stay focused, be calm and be yourself. The other impression I’m only going to be brief about because it’s super basic. Once you’ve made your first impression, it’s going to last a long time. However, the easiest way to botch that would be to turn into someone else after you’ve met the second time. The only thing worse than a bad first impression is seeing that the wealthy handsome, well mannered man introduced to them is actually a bore who can’t maintain a conversation. These are all hand-in-hand style things that need to be maintained at ALL TIMES. If you decide at anytime to break this rule, then be sure to skip town because then your references will drop along with the people who back you up. BE SMART!
As Andre Agassi said, "Image is everything!" Now sign up and make a positive impression on someone!