by Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs
published in ASAP
First impressions matter – a lot! Whether you are interviewing for a job, networking at a professional event or meeting a C-level executive for the first time, making a positive impression can help pave the way for successful outcomes. Making a great impression can say so much about you in such a short amount of time, too. In fact, within 30 seconds a person generally has established either a favorable or unfavorable feeling about you.
How can you help increase the likelihood that you have made a positive impact? One word: Preparation. Let’s examine ‘preparation’ in more detail. There’s so much in life that’s beyond our control. For example, we can’t control the weather, we can’t control traffic, we can’t control our future or even a pandemic. However, we can control how we react and adapt. We can control our mindset. By focusing on matters we can control and preparing ourselves, we set ourselves up for success.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
~ Will Rogers
What skills do we need to master to ensure a lasting first impression within 30 seconds? There are several. With practice and preparation, you will be at the ready to succeed.
Punctuality speaks volumes about you. It says you’re reliable, respectful, and professional. In a business setting, there’s nothing more important than arriving on time (or even early). It shows you care and are prepared, hallmarks of positive impressions.
Meeting someone for the first time with a smile is a sign of confidence and warmth. It expresses a nonverbal message that communicates “I’m happy to have the opportunity to meet you.” The power of a smile opens the door to a welcoming conversation and building a lasting relationship. Smiling also enhances your mood. It’s a scientific fact. When we smile, we release serotonin, a hormone that produces feelings of happiness and well-being.
Fair or not, how we look and dress affect how we are perceived by others.
Just as smiling boosts confidence so does dressing appropriately. Wearing professional clothing speaks to your credibility and respect. When ensuring a good impression, take time to understand the level of dress. If the business environment is formal, then women should opt for suit or business-style dress and men should wear a suit and tie to reflect the company’s culture. If the company or event is business casual, then dress down your professional clothing. For women, a skirt or pants with a blouse are ideal and men should opt for trousers and a sport coat, no tie. Of course, you’ll want to ensure your hair is neatly combed, your shoes are polished and in good condition and you go easy on perfume or cologne.
Mind Your Manners
Those with whom you’re meeting for the first time will notice your manners, especially if they are exceptional! Manners matter. Saying please, thank you, you’re welcome, etc. will not go unnoticed and neither will good eye contact and posture. Studies report those with good manners are more likely to get the job over those who may be more qualified but have poor manners. What’s more, people prefer to be with those who display good manners. Good behavior is non-negotiable when you want to make a lasting, positive first impression.
Having a positive attitude is a key ingredient when meeting someone for the first time. Let’s face it, no one wants to listen to someone whine, complain or talk negatively about someone or something. It’s draining and most unprofessional. On the flip side, seeing the glass half full, looking at the bright side of things, will showcase a pleasant personality, confidence, and trust. You’re sure to win high marks and build rapport.
Send a Handwritten Note
In the business world, there’s nothing more gratifying than receiving a handwritten note, expressing a word of thanks or communicating another sentiment after meeting someone for the first time. Taking the time to write a personal message exudes professionalism and will, undoubtedly, reinforce the good from your initial visit.