It has been said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Whether it’s a job interview, a preliminary meeting with a potential client or even a blind date, research indicates that you will be judged in the blink of an eye. In fact, Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov discovered that it takes people just one tenth of a second to form an impression of another person.
Give yourself an edge to make the most of that time flash. In a posting on Hubspot, Jacqueline Zenn offers some valuable tips for putting your best foot forward, sharing some suggestions to ensure that the first time you meet with someone won’t be the last.
9 Ways to Make a Positive First Impression
1) Be aware of your posture and body language. Whether you like it or not, you are always communicating subtle nonverbal messages. Adopt an open stance, which means not crossing your arms or legs. Lean in when talking. Avoid foot tapping, excessive face touching and blinking.
2) Control your tone of voice and pitch. A high-pitched voice sounds nervous and childish, while a deeper voice appears more self-assured. Women tend to add a rising inflection at the end of their sentences, which gives the impression that they are less knowledgeable. Although they may be hard to follow, fast talkers come off as more confident. Avoid conversation filler phrases such as “um” or “like,” which communicate hesitation.
3) Select words with care. Use positive and persuasive words and phrases. They will make people around you feel more comfortable, which will ultimately make them more eager to work or bond with you.
4) Consider your appearance. It is more important that apparel be neat and clean, as opposed to stylish. Aim to match or slightly exceed the level of formality of the person or business you are meeting with. Accessories can accent your personality or be used as conversation starters.
5) Focus your attention on the person you are speaking with. Mute your phone, disable email message alerts and don’t doodle. Attempt to make eye contact, however be aware that certain cultures eschew eye contact. Also, if the other person disagrees with you, they may purposely avoid eye contact.
6) Do background research before arriving in order to learn more about the person you are meeting with. You will make a more positive impression and conversation will proceed more smoothly if you know a bit about the person or the company in advance.
7) Don’t waste people’s time. Showing respect for other people’s schedules is an important component in not only making a positive first impression, but building a long-lasting relationship.
8) Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Be honest if you don’t know the answer to something that is asked. Don’t hide your weaknesses, however avoid over emphasizing your shortcomings.
9) Follow up after an initial meeting with a short email or thank you note. The small gesture will make you stand out in the crowd, and give you another chance at making an impression.