Making a Great First Impression for Lasting Effect
In a world so small and fast, making a great first impression can determine everything. Unfortunately, a perfectly good and lasting first impression is really hard to make. Not only is it difficult to be perfect, people are very careful when meeting for the first time too. As a result, someone is likely to notice your flaws on your first meeting than during consecutive meetings. Even so, there are some things you can do to secure a good and lasting first impressions.
The list of 20 items below is divided into two. The first set contains items on making a good and lasting first impression in the context of business. The second set of items applies to social situations. Noteworthy is the fact that some items on both lists can apply in both business and social environments.
How to make a good and lasting first impression in a business situation
1. Arrive on time: Your potential business partner loses faith in you with every minute of lateness. Although sometimes you can’t avoid being late, your reasons for lateness will not really do much for you. A good and lasting first impression is not possible after a late arrival. Period. Do all in your power to arrive on time. If that’s impossible, call ahead and explain why you’re late and how late you’re going to be. Otherwise, forget a good first impression altogether.
2. Avoid checking your watch: When you check your watch during a business encounter, there are three main messages you send. First, you show that the meeting you’re currently in is not really important. Secondly, you silently tell the person you’re engaged with to “hurry up!” Thirdly, you wordlessly say “I can’t wait to leave and handle more important matters”. Before too long, you lose the trust and respect of that individual. Worst of all, they’ll always remember you as “that disrespectful prick”. Therefore, avoid checking your watch at all costs.
3. Wear nice and pressed clothes: There’s something about clothes and business. Nice fitting clothes that are well-matched indicate good taste in business. Conversely, wearing crinkled clothes are understood to say, “I don’t care how business partners see me”. It’s worse if your business partners for that day are potential investors. Keeping a good personal appearance is a much simpler task compared to handling other people’s investments. As such, crinkled clothes will definitely lose client’s faith in you. No one can trust you with their money if you don’t seem to be careful enough with your own appearance.
4. Make sure your computer and programs are working well: Your computer program needs to be a tool for a great presentation, nothing less. A failing computer program like PowerPoint is guaranteed to make you seem disorganized and unreliable. If you’re presenting a business idea and your presentation is shabby, your plan will be dismissed as mediocre too. Unfortunately, there’s no recovering from such a bad first impression.
5. Keep an organized and clean office: Our work space communicates our work ethic and efficiency. You’ll never convince anyone that you’re a good worker if your very own work space is disorganized. If you’ve walked into an unkempt office even once, you’re sure to remember it all your life. Now, what do you think of the person who works in that office? Unreliable right? Most of all, you think they’re careless. In order for you to make a good and lasting first impression, keep the desk and seats clean. Also, keep the office well-lit. Do this at all times. You never know when an important guest might pop in.
6. Keep healthy eye contact: Hold your business partners gaze for a few seconds and smile warmly throughout the conversation. The moment you start looking away, you appear cunning or uninterested. Furthermore, you lose their trust. Never again will they do business with you or recommend you to their business partners.
7. Bring a neat notebook, laptop and briefcase: It doesn’t matter how well the rest of you looks. As long as your notebook, laptop and briefcase look shabby, nothing good about you seems real. The laptop, notebook and case are the businessman’s best accessories. Seemingly, everyone assumes that great business comes out of pretty laptops and notebooks kept in a pretty case. While this may not be true, it is safer for you to just pretend like its true. Make sure you bring a pretty suitcase, laptop and clean notebook to all your meetings.
8. Do not chew: Surely, no one is reckless enough to chew while wearing a suit, right? Well, as opposed to what you’re thinking, some people actually are! Unless you’re at a business lunch with your potential partner, do not chew. Imagine an agent talking to you about this amazing house while chewing on a fat wad of gum. How seriously would you take him? When you chew, you distract everyone in the room. More so, you limit your ability to communicate effectively.
9. Interrupt Politely and only if you have to: Do not interrupt someone when they’re talking in a business meeting. Should you be forced to do so, raise your hand slightly and say “excuse me”. Do not go about saying “Eeerrr…” You might think its time-saving to go straight to the point and say “I think you’re wrong there!” It’s not. The person you’ve interrupted feels offended straight away. They conclude that you’re a foul person and they are not going to change that opinion easily.
10. Longwinded speeches: The reason why business letters are short is because brief does it well. The same applies for your first meeting with a potential business partner, employer, etc. Do not give a ten-minute long speech about why you’re their best choice for a business partner. Talk for a maximum of two minutes. Let them engage you as you engage them.
Making a good and lasting first impression in a social situation
1. Do not, for any reason, dominate the conversation: When you dominate the conversation in a social setting, you come off as a controlling person. The moment you make this impression, the other person starts to seek means of escaping from you. Therefore, engage the people, use a mixture of statements and open questions to enable them contribute fairly to the conversation.
2. Stay outside others’ personal space: Standing less than a meter from someone you just met makes them feel uneasy. You’re invading their personal space. Consequently, you’ll see them taking a step back. If they’re of the opposite sex, they might step back and turn their body away from you too. Study their body language to see that you’re within a comfortable distance of them. A good and lasting first impression is not possible when you’ve been labelled an “invader”.
3. Forget your phone: How long do you engage a new person who wont stop texting or dialing their phone? Not too long I’m sure. So unless your interaction is about phones or you’re showing them something on your phone, forget phones. Looking at your phone is terrible. Normally, you don’t know it, but you’re saying “My phone is more interesting than you right now”. They’ll walk away with a smile to go get themselves another drink. However, notice that they won’t come back. They’ve labelled you as RUDE. Sadly, they’ll never change that impression until you give them a good reason to.
4. Make no sensitive jokes: Do not make jokes about the other sex. Do not make jokes about the other race. Their spouse may be of the other race. Often, you’ll crack a sensitive joke with nothing but good intention. However, it may backfire and have you labelled a racist or sexist forever. Hence, be careful what jokes you crack on your first meeting.
5. Pay keen attention and be present: This is related to the phone issue addressed above. People love being appreciated. In this regard, you want to be the best “appreciator”. Do not look around when people talk unless you purposefully want them gone. Keep eye contact. Nod politely when they emphasize a point and so on. You will make a good and lasting first impression as being “that lady who listened very keenly”. They will enjoy talking to you and consequently want to meet again.
6. Be humble; do not boast: Boasting is one of the biggest turn offs. Even people who boast are turned off by other people who boast. Imagine that! Try seeing the world from the other person’s level no matter how blessed you may be. Imagine being the one who’s never left your country. Now, imagine listening to someone brag about their trips to the best tourist destinations in the world. Would you be comfortable near that person and his well-travelled friends again? How would you remember them?
7. Avoid impolite distractions like tapping your foot: You’re impatient, you’re being confined by this person and his empty talk. Fine, sorry. But please, for the sake of etiquette, do not rudely distract them to reveal your discomfort. Do not drum your fingers on the table. Do not tap your foot on the floor or fidget with the bangles on your wrist. They will secretly hate you no matter how much of their fault it is.
8. Stay warm; avoid complaining: A good and lasting first impression is all about radiating warmth no matter how bad things get. When they’re yelling at you, smile politely and apologize repetitively until they understand. If it’s not your fault, apologize still. Do not yell at attendants for late deliveries if you on a date with someone. In short, remember to be kind and polite. And by polite I mean to both the person you’re meeting with and everyone else around the two of you.
9. No matter how boring it gets, don’t express it: Nothing damages a person’s esteem as much as knowing that they’re no fun. Therefore, you don’t want to yawn in someone’s face. Most of the time if a person is boring they know it. The fact that they’re still talking to you means that they find you interesting. Do not take that for granted. Smile at their lame jokes if you can. Alternatively, you can lead the conversation if their topics are killing you with boredom. Doing so will guarantee you a good and lasting first impression. Better still, you’re meeting them for the first time. You never know, they may turn out to be the most helpful person you ever met.
10. Be calm and composed: This tip applies most in the dating scene. When you keep calm and poised you exude a lot of confidence. Everyone wants to stay with the confident guy or lady. Essentially, avoid shifting in your seat, stammering and waving your hands around uneasily. Speak confidently and use only the necessary gestures. This tip comes last because it’s the most important of all. Confidence is the foundation of all good impressions.