The 10 easiest ways to make a great first impression

Do you have a short amount of time to impress someone? When looking for work, making contacts and networking, we need to employ quick strategies so that the people that matter remember us positively.

It’s true that “first impressions last” – the energy and vibe we give off initially can dictate the future relationship we have with a new acquaintance or colleague. Does that sound scary? It needn’t be! By employing a few simple strategies you can impress someone in under 10 minutes.

Could you be doing these 10 simple things to get ahead in your career and even your personal life?

1. Make eye contact

Making eye contact with people shows that you care about what they have to say and gives the impression that you are a confident, trustworthy person. “The eyes are the window to the soul” is an expression that holds true even in business. Use eye contact when meeting someone new, talking to someone for the first time and when you are making a point.

2. Remember people’s names

There is no sound sweeter to a person than the sound of their own voice! It’s a tactic that too few people use and it’s so easy to do. If you have difficulty remembering people’s names, use tactics to try to remember them. Using someone’s name while you are speaking with them can be a powerful tool and shows you as a caring and observant person.

3. Look your best

Showing respect for your appearance actually shows people that you have respect for them. Impeccable manners, a neat appearance and dressing appropriately for the occasion all show people that you care about yourself, the impression you give and about them. Sometimes it only takes a few extra minutes to pull your appearance together but the effects can be well worth it.

4. Let the other person talk more

This can be a tricky one for some people! Try to discover more about the person you are speaking with; avoid imparting excessive information about yourself uninvited. Learn to ask incisive questions and discover more about the person you are speaking to. Have a real, genuine interest in people; after all, you already know all about yourself, so why not try to learn something new by letting the other person speak?

5. Listen actively

Another tactic to use to make a good impression is to listen actively to what the other person is saying. Stephen R. Covey wrote a popular book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and in it he said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Wait for your turn to speak, listen actively and really hear what the other person is saying.

6. Smile

Another simple, free and effective tactic to use to make a good impression is to smile! Become aware of your facial expressions and try to relax your forehead, soften your eyes and smile while you make eye contact. Smiling can put the person you are talking to at ease and make them feel comfortable in your presence.

7. Have confident posture

Think about how you stand and sit, and about how you shake hands. If you can, take some deep breaths before you enter a room when you are about to meet new people. Also, take a moment to centre yourself and pull your shoulders back. Even if you are not feeling particularly confident, you can give off a confident impression by paying attention to your posture.

8. Be honest

It may seem obvious, but one of the most important ways to give a good impression is to be an honest, trustworthy person. Speak your truth, care about others and try to connect with the words you are about to say in an honest and open way. Don’t lie, bad-mouth people or say overly negative things when meeting someone new.

9. Be funny and relaxed when you can

Life is too short to be serious all the time! Don’t take yourself or the person you are trying to make an impression on too seriously! Make your point, but see the lighter side of things as well – this can make people feel more comfortable in your presence. According to William James, “Common sense and a sense of humour are the same thing, moving at different speeds.”

10. Do your research

When meeting someone new, particularly if they are someone you are aiming to work with, doing your research about them and their company can be a great way to make a good first impression and break the ice. By knowing just a few things about the person you are speaking to, you can make them feel at ease and like they are a valued and important person: a feeling that everyone loves!

  1. February 7, 2014

    Great advice, Alyce. I’m a senior exec always on the lookout for talent and have a couple more tips to add. People often let themselves down in interviews by not demonstrating their ability to think strategically and conceptualise how their skills can contribute to the overall goals of the organisation. The other is linked. They get bogged down in the detail. Be succinct!

    1. February 8, 2014

      Hi Bernadette-

      Thanks so much for your comments. I agree that spending a bit of time thinking about what you intend to say to get your point across is time well spent! I have made the rookie error of showing up to interviews and important meeting under-prepared and it always gets you in the end! Being succinct is another great tip – I do tend to ramble on, especially in meetings and interviews!

      All the best — Alyce

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