You only get one chance to make a good first impression. That’s why it’s critical to be on your game when it counts. First impressions happen fast and once they are formed, they’re very hard to change.
Can we learn how to make good first impressions? Yes!
In this age of hyper-connectivity through social media, dating apps, and instant messaging; we’ve lost touch with how to connect with people in person.
That’s why I feel like this is so important to review.
These tips are for everyone, even those of you that are shy or introverts, to make good first impressions. In fact, I was shy growing up but was able to learn these skills over time. Not only did I learn these skills, I turned it into a very successful sales career. Anybody who knew me in primary school would never have guessed this is what I would end up doing.
- Preparation leads to good first impressions
This step is important if you’re getting ready for a business/client/investor meeting but not necessarily in social situations.
As I’ve said in previous posts, we live in an age where any information is at your fingertips. According to the Pew Research center, 95% of Americans own a cell phone of some kind and 77% own a smart phone. Nearly 75% of Americans own a desktop or laptop computer and roughly half own tablets.
That being said, use these devices to improve your life, they’re not just for memes or funny videos 🙂
So research everything you can about a potential employer/client/investor before you step foot in their office. What are their interests? What makes them tick? What are their values and motivates them? Do they have a family? Do they have pets? You get the point..
Make mental notes or write them down. This will help you lead the discussion and give you topics for conversation. Ideally, these topics will come up organically throughout your interactions and will add to your likability.
2. Pay attention to Body Language
Hands, Body Posture, and eye contact are key here.
Your hands should be visible and palms outward. This communicates that you are not a threat and are welcoming. This concept goes back to the beginning of humankind and is instinctual non-verbal communication. That’s why we shake hands when we meet someone and wave hello.
Pro tip about shaking hands: If you are like me and get sweaty hands, use the napkin trick. Wrap a napkin around a cold drink and hold it with your right hand. This trick will keep your hand dry for when it’s time to shake hands.
As far as body posture, think about people you know that are confident. Their shoulders are back and down, head and chest are forward and slightly up. Weight lifting and a strong core are key to helping you maintain good body posture naturally. Farmer carries, push ups, and planks are some of my favorite exercises to work on for strengthening muscles that maintain posture. Good posture will help you appear comfortable and confident, even when you’re not.
Finally, maintaining eye contact is a great way to communicate that you’re engaged and trying to connect with someone. In fact, eye contact helps the production of oxytocin, which is known as the “love” hormone and allows us to feel more connected to one another. Body language experts recommend maintaining eye contact 60-70 percent of the time you are conversing with someone. So don’t be a creep and stare, keep it natural.
This is a reminder for those of you that have Resting Bitch Face syndrome. Remember to smile during your interactions. It communicates that you are enjoying yourself. Don’t force it though, people can see that shit from a mile away (scientifically proven). Demonstrating enjoyment with someone adds to your likability. It makes others feel appreciated and important.
4. Make others feel important and heard
The secret to sales success is making your customer feel important to you. Sometimes all people want, is to be heard and validated. That can be enough to turn a prospect into a client. With everything in our lives getting automated, I believe we crave more human touch. How many times have you screamed “REPRESENTATIVE” into your phone to get to a live person? We want to be heard and feel taken care of.
We make others feel important by getting to know them and asking them great questions. Questions that start with: what, who, when, where, how, why. These will elicit longer and more detailed responses. Think about how many times a day someone asks you how you are doing and how they can help you? I’m not talking about the obligatory “how you doing” when passing someone in the hallway or seeing an acquaintance at the coffee shop. Think about how often someone sincerely asks to help you. Use this and make people feel special.
If this doesn’t come naturally to you, it will take some work. Make a point to get to as many networking events as you can. Then practice a lot.
Pro tip: Start questions with something easy like, “what’s new?” Or “what do you do?” Have a couple generic opening questions memorized and ready to go.
5. Know when to leave a conversation
This is probably something you don’t read much about. As important as it is to learn to start a conversation, it’s equally important to know when to leave a conversation and leave them wanting more.
Have you ever gotten stuck in a conversation with someone that doesn’t stop talking? It feels like hours go by every time you talk to them.
Every office has one. Nobody likes a lingerer or hearing about every detail of your life.
So how do you make sure you’re not that one?
Get the other person’s name, exchange pleasantries, get the information you were looking for/discuss the topic you planned on, outline next steps.
After checking all of these boxes, time to get out. Keep first interactions short and sweet.
6. Follow up after meeting
You’ve had a positive interaction and the meeting is over. Keep the momentum going and make a point to follow up. Hit them up by email, social media, text, whatever the appropriate medium is and let them know how much you enjoyed your interaction and that you’ll be delivering on those next steps that were discussed.
This will make your interaction that much more memorable.
I hope this helps you, let me know if you have any other tips or questions about this topic in the comments below.