good first impression

7 Ways To Win At Making First Impressions

We’ve all blown first impressions before and we’re still standing. That means they aren’t important, right?

Wrongo-mania.

First impressions often times set the stage for an entire relationship, or lack thereof, and if you can learn how to master them you’ll start seeing better results all across the board.

In your work life, personal life, even love life, first impressions separate the winners from the folks who talk about some day being winners. Here are 7 ways make these crucial moments count.

1) Use a CONCISE greeting

This point one is #1 because it’s the first point of interaction, not to mention the most-commonly screwed up.

And as Wikipedia notes, the greeting we choose, combined with our physical presentation (#2) are the biggest contributors to the mental image we leave someone with.

Now, we all have that friend who manages to say too much when first meeting someone. He/she opens up into their relationship, pet, and family problems before the other part has muttered a “nice to meet you.”

While there is a lot to be said for candid honesty and being passionate, this sort of greeting doesn’t go too far in settings where you’re being judged professionally or on some other merit.

Instead, you odds are much safer with a greeting like “pleasure’s mine”. Then, let the other party do the talking. It’s okay to plan this greeting in advance – they key is to say less and by doing this convey a position of power while commanding respect.

2) Look the part

We all mess this one up, sometimes to an extreme, often times without knowing it!

I’ve sat down at meetings with coffee splashed across my dress shirt, or worse, wine from the night before…

But looking the part, as I mentioned above, is at least half the equation here.

For men it usually amounts to running a bit of gel and a comb through ones hair and tucking in a nice shirt and tie. For girls, well I have no idea but do have a serious respect for the time it takes to prepare oneself.

If you fail to look decent but talk well, you’ll cut yourself shorter than if you looked great and talked average. Stress the important things, those people remember.

Keep in mind, people look to salient (less-obvious) clues for gathering intelligence on you, and a big one is just someones appearance and demeanor.

3) Listen, play off of someone

Following your short greeting, it’s important to listen to what the other party is saying. If you over-plan your first impression, this becomes tricky and you’ll likely say something off-handed or just fail to say anything.

So keep in mind you need to listen. Playing off someone else’s initial remarks shows poise and will earn you instant respect.

Pleasant example: “The weather was beautiful on the drive up here.”
“Not as beautiful as your home, Mrs. _____.

Humorous example: “I bet you spent forever on that cake.”
“And I bet you spent forever on your hair, but I’m not a betting man, really.”

Showing an ability to play off of someone else’s comments gives yourself an extra aura of confidence and awareness people will surely find attractive.

4) Rid yourself of stress

This one is tricky. However if you find your mind wandering to a moment of stress, like something nagging you, you’ll often face-plant mid conversation. We all do it.

So before you head off the big meeting or big date, try to free your mind of whatever it is that’s worrying you.

Don’t turn to alcohol (unless it’s free). Instead, just take a few deep breathes and maybe have a laugh at yourself too.

Freeing up your mind will really help you interact smoothly and pleasantly.

5) Make the right amount of eye contact

The right amount of eye contact basically equivocates to showing someone you care about what they are talking about.

Making too much of it, well, that’s not really a problem. Everyone has their own style. But if you fail to make eye contact you may appear aloof or careless. You may even appear scared.

It’s important to practice making eye contact in first impression situations, so even if it bothers you try and get out there and stare ‘em down.

6) Be comfortable with the mic

If you have acheived all of the above, you need to be comfortable speaking when the conversation drifts your way.

That means confidently telling folks what you do, why you do it, and a couple other interesting facts about yourself.

If you can’t manage this, or stammer, or act confused, all your efforts will be wasted.

If you can show composure and speak with a bit of authority, you’ll really drive the nail in.

Plan a few tidbits about yourself in advance, but keep them malleable to the dynamics of the situation.

7) Use a concise good-bye

Just like your introduction was concise, the good-bye should be brief and professional as well.

This shows you’re used to meeting new people, are comfortable breaking from a conversation, and above all could make the other party wish for more of your company down the road.

The alternative is a prolonged exchanged, which usually ends up in awkwardness or worse, you don’t get to finish a sentence.

Now get out there!

First impressions, at their finest, should be natural. It’s okay to blow a few along your way to perfect though.

If you adopt the 7 techniques above to heart, or at least a few of them, you’ll see some good results.

What do you think though? Are first impressions as important as I’ve made them out to be? Do we get second chances?

Let’s pick this topic apart in the comments.

Greg Narayan is the lead editor of Dear Blogger. When he’s not answering your WordPress questions or helping folks decide what to blog about, you can find him on the tennis court hitting Federer-esque backhands.

  • http://www.selfication.com/ Patrik Edblad

    Yes, first impressions are very important. People tend to like people who are similar to themselves so I think it’s a good idea to adapt to the way the other person is expressing him/herself. In psychology this is known as mirroring and is a pretty cool subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirroring_(psychology)
    Also, I think most people prefer a good listener rather than a good talker so if you can be genuinely curious and ask interesting questions and follow up questions that goes a long way.
    If you can find some stuff that you and the other person have in common that can really speed up the connection making process.
    Thanks for sharing, Greg!

  • http://mesandeep.wordpress.com/ Sandeep Khanal

    I rather believe in expressing than impressing! But, first impressions does makes the difference and is indeed a crucial thing for most of us!
    It was fun reading your post, Greg.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • David Goettsch

    It’s amazing how important first impressions can be! You can spend weeks trying to earn the same level of respect and friendliness that you can achieve in minutes if you have good communication skills. I really like the 3rd point, it makes it so much easier to keep involved when you keep your conversation related to what others say, and it can be an easy way to establish repoire! Great advice in this article thanks for sharing!

    Dave (Personal Growth Project)

  • MaĆ«lis Mittig

    Great article, Greg! First impressions are important, but I don’t think anyone really writes you off after a few minutes of chatting. Relationships are built. They’re not often made by first impressions. The first impression I had of my now best friend of 15 years is her making me cry in the middle of dance class… We’re just fine now :) It’s important to give people the chance to open up, and often, it’s hard to do this during first encounters. The key to successfully connecting with people is genuinely wanting to and being confident. This article has great tools for being more confident.

  • http://thoughtful-self-improvement.com/Free_SE_E-book-soc Natalie

    First Impressions make a big difference. We are designed to categorize and make snap decisions. In our distant past deciding if someone was a friend or foe in a second was part of survival.

    I like #6. Prepare a 10-20 second introduction about yourself so you are not stumbling when they ask about you. Make it appropriate to the situation. You wouldn’t use the same ‘speech’ at a part that you would in a work conference.

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  • kulls

    Listening and making eye contact is always a good thing to make good impression.
    It makes others a friend and also a fan
    Thank you
    http://www.letsnurture.com

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    Thanks for giving me the useful information. I think I need it. Thank you

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    How good this article is! I like it. I will share with my
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  • Josh

    Thanks for this article. I agree first impressions are very important! What’s often overlooked is the condition of your hands! Just like the main image of this post shows, the hands are so noticeable. Whether it’s a handshake or using your hands to express yourself, your hands are part of a first impression. People who don’t get manicure or bite their nails, leave a bad impression even if everything else looks good appearance wise. Get yourself a good manicure kit. My favorite is the Seki Edge ones. Also, please don’t have bad breathe!