‘You only have one chance to make a good first impression.’
While you may have heard this saying before, there’s a chance you’ve never thought twice about what it actually means. In the business world, there’s nothing more important than making a good first impression.
The reason is pretty simple: You’ll immediately connect with the other party, which allows you to grow your relationship in the days, weeks, and months to come. Without this, you’ll struggle to “keep your foot in the door.”
No one knows for sure how long a first impression lasts, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Instead, you should assume that you only have a matter of minutes (or maybe seconds) to show your true colors.
But don’t be scared. There are steps you can take to make a good first impression on anyone you meet. Here are 5 tips to follow when trying to make a lasting first impression.
1. Make Eye Contact
Eye contact is vital to every conversation. When approaching someone for the first time, don’t look at the floor. Don’t look past the person. Instead, look them directly in the eye during your greeting.
As the conversation moves forward, this advice shared by Michigan State University should help:
“To maintain appropriate eye contact without staring, you should maintain eye contact for 50 percent of the time while speaking and 70% of the time while listening.”
2. Dress to Impress
There are times when you know you’ll be meeting new people, such as when attending industry trade shows. There are also times when you don’t expect to meet somebody new, but soon find yourself in the middle of an important conversation.
This is why it’s important to dress to impress at all times. More importantly, it helps you feel as confident as you should be at any given point in the day.
Don’t have the time for shopping? Lucky for you, the internet age is in full swing. You can find nearly every major clothing retailer online. Nowadays, you can even order your glasses online. Sites like Glasses Gallery and Zenni Optical have dozens of frames for a fraction of the price you’ll find at the eye doctor.
3. Use Positive Body Language
Your body language goes well beyond making eye contact (see above). This also includes how you stand, what you do with your arms when talking, and your posture among other details.
We’ll leave you with this statistic:
“A University of Pennsylvania study reported that the majority of communication is transmitted non-verbally. 70% of communication is body language, 23% is voice tone and inflection, and only 7% is your spoken words!”
Stand confidently, make eye contact, and keep an eye on the body language of those around you. Be warm and welcoming. The gesture will go a long way.
4. Choose Your Words Carefully
What you say during a first encounter can follow you forever. This is why it’s a good idea to stick to the basics, and focus primarily on making the other person comfortable with the conversation.
For example, now’s not the time to share your political views or your thoughts on religion.
Saying something offensive will ensure that you don’t make a good first impression. Even worse, it could harm your ability to form a solid relationship with the person in the future.
5. Ignore Distractions
Go back in time 50 years and this wasn’t a big problem. However, in today’s world, there are more distractions than ever before. Keep your smartphone in your pocket, don’t look at your Apple Watch, and resist the urge to pay attention to everything going on around you.
A person who is easily distracted is a person who comes across as disrespectful. Even though this isn’t your intention, it’s the way you’ll make the other person feel. And that’s never a good thing during a first meeting.
So, there you have it. Even if you’ve struggled to make a good first impression in the past, there are a few basic changes that can put you on the right track to success in the future.
What are you tips for making a good first impression? Share your tips and tricks in the comments.
Originally published at medium.com