Monday, July 30, 2012

Making a Great First Impression!

Making a Great First Impression!

It takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this very short time, the other person forms an opinion, fair or not,  about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed.

We make countless new encounters every day and with every new meeting, you are evaluated and yet another person’s impression of you is formed.  These first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making these first encounters extremely important.  It will set the tone for the entire relationships that follows.  

This is crucial to you and your business success.  People are watching you all the time and it is important to  know how to put your best foot forward each and every day whether it is in the work place, at a meeting or a networking event.  

With over 21 years as a top producing sales representative for various companies and industries; I learned early on that my best asset was me!  So I never took a first meeting or my ability to make a good first impression too lightly.  Here are some of my tips:

Be on Time
Someone you are meeting for the first time is not interested in your “good excuse” for running late.  Plan to arrive a few minutes early and allow flexibility for possible delays in traffic or taking a wrong turn.  Arriving early is much better that arriving late, hands down, and is the first step in creating a great first impression.  Being late can put an uncomfortable feeling in the air and a meeting should not start that way. 

Be Yourself, Be at Ease
If you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge, this can make the other person ill at ease and that’s a sure way to create the wrong impression. Your feeling uncomfortable can also create an impression on the other person that you might not be ready, knowledgeable or willing to discuss the matter at hand.   If you are calm and confident, the other person will feel more at ease too, and then you have a solid foundation for making that first impression a good one and building a relationship.

Present Yourself Appropriately
Your physical appearance matters.  All the time.  No matter where you are.  The person you are meeting for the first time does not know you and your appearance is usually the first clue he or she has to go on.  The other person may not want to do business with you or refer business to you if you can not look the part of a successful professional.  Now, that certainly does not mean you need to look like a model to create a strong and positive first impression.  The key to a good impression is to present yourself appropriately.  Appropriate dressing and grooming help make a good first impression and also help you feel “the part”, and also feel more calm and confident. 

A Word about Individuality
The good news is you can usually create a good impression by just being your authentic self.  Focus on your individuality.  And Yes, to make a good first impression you do need to “fit in” to some degree.  But it all goes back to being appropriate for the situation.  If the meeting is in a business setting, wear the appropriate business attire.  If the meeting is at a less formal event or location, consider business casual as the appropriate  attire.  The key is to show your confidence, success and ability and look natural at the same time.

A Winning Smile!
“Smile and the world smiles too.”   So there’s nothing like a smile to create a good first impression.  A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease.  So smiling is a winner when it comes to great first impressions and "breaking the ice."  It goes without saying, to be sincere and not "over do" it either!
Be Open and Confident
When it comes to making the first impression, body language as well as appearance speaks much louder than words.   Use your body language to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance.  Stand tall, smile (of course), make eye contact, greet with a firm handshake.  All of this will help you project confidence and encourage both you and the other person to feel better at ease.  Almost everyone gets a little nervous when meeting someone for the first time, which can lead to nervous habits or sweaty palms.  By being aware of your nervous habits, you can try to keep them in check.  And controlling a nervous jitter or a nervous laugh will give you confidence and help the other person feel at ease.

Small Talk Goes a Long Way
Conversations are based on verbal give and take.  It may help you to prepare questions you have for the person you are meeting for the first time beforehand. Or, take a few minutes to learn something about the person you meet for the first time before you get together. For instance, does he play golf? Does she work with a local charitable foundation?   Is there anything that you know of that you have in common with the person you are meeting? If so, this can be a great way to open the conversation and to keep it flowing.

Be Positive
Your attitude shows through in everything you do. Project a positive attitude, even in the face of criticism or in the case of nervousness. Strive to learn from your meeting and to contribute appropriately, maintaining an upbeat manner and a smile.

Be Courteous And Attentive
It goes without saying that good manners and polite, attentive and courteous behavior help make a good first impression.  In fact, anything less can ruin the one chance you have at making that first impression. So be on your best behavior!   One modern manner worth mentioning is be engaged in the other person, you might even want to turn off your phone.  What first impression will you create if you are distracted or worse .... start speaking to someone other than the person you are meeting for the first time?  Your new acquaintance deserves 100% of your attention.  Anything less and you’ll create a less than good first impression.

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