You have less than five seconds to make a good impression. What you wear, how you carry yourself, and the first words out of your mouth all make a quick and subconscious impact on the person that you’re talking to.
While it is possible to change that first impression, we’ll be honest: you’ll have to work very hard, and very long, to make your point. Save yourself that trouble learning the art of making a great first impression—and you can start with this article.
Always be punctual
People value their time, and when you’re late, they get annoyed at you even before they met you! You may have a great reason, but why would a stranger care? Or even if they ‘understand’ you on a logical level, they feel (naturally) irritated, and can quickly form a number of opinions about you: you’re disorganized, rude, difficult to work with, irresponsible, etc. So—be on time! In fact, try to be a few minutes early, so you can compose yourself before meeting and appear unflustered and calm. Which brings us to the next point…
Exude calmness and positivity
If you are relaxed, the other person will be too. Pay attention to your body language: are your shoulders hunched, is your jaw clenched, do you keep shuffling in your seat? Be aware of how fast you are talking, and if your voice is too high—slow down, modulate, and smile as you talk!
If you’re very nervous, take a deep breath and just ask a question (something like ‘So how has your week been?’ or ‘How long have you been with the company?’). This gives you time to compose yourself and also shows the other person that you’re interested in getting to know him. And, don’t say anything negative—everyone’s got problems but you don’t have to wear yours on your sleeve. Read our article on how to radiate positive energy
Invest in the way you look. You don’t have to wear the latest trends or expensive brands; the important thing is to dress for your body type, your personality and of course the occasion. Is this a business meeting? A date? Is it a day or evening function? Formal or casual? To take the guesswork out of fashion, read our article on 9 wardrobe essentials—mix and match these and you’re ready for anything!
People also notice the details: fingernails, bags, shoes. Get a good manicure (or keep those nails healthy) and make sure that shoes are clean and polished!
Keep the conversation going
Read our article on how to be a good conversationalist to master this all-too-important skill. While a nice smile and a snazzy outfit can create a good impression, you do need to sustain this image by being able to talk intelligently.
Photo from salessmashers.com