Whether you like it or not you are judged by the first impression you make on others. From the moment you first meet someone you have about sixty seconds to make a good impression. This article will show you six secrets to creating a powerful first impression.
Regardless of whether it’s fair or whether it’s correct, it’s a true fact that the first impression is how we judge each other. There is an old saying that goes, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” After that you’re done. Your chance is over. If you make a bad first impression then you are constantly working on damage control. You will always be remembered for that first impression, good or bad. Therefore it’s extremely important that you learn how to make a powerful and positive first impression.
Think for a moment about the different people you have met in your life. Wasn’t it something about your first meeting with them that drew you to them? Isn’t it true that those people who have made the most powerful impact on your life are the ones that presented a powerful and positive first impression? What was it about that meeting that had such an impact on you? If you think about it you will realize that there are certain things these people did that impressed you. They knew the secrets of making a powerful first impression. No you will know the secrets too.
Secret Number 1: Take the Lead
What this means is to be outgoing. Don’t wait for the other person to step forward and greet you. You take the initiative. You be the one to step forward, shake hands, greet the other person and initiate the conversation. By doing this you are taking control of the situation and you are establishing a first impression as a leader; a person who is not fearful, timid or shy. You can’t help but be impressed when someone comes up to you, shakes your hand, introduces himself and initiates a conversation. Your goal is to be that person.
Secret Number 2: Smile
Okay, this is going to seem obvious yet it’s amazing how many people don’t do this. It is to SMILE!
Think about when another person greets you. Think about the difference in how you feel about the other person when they greet you with a cheerful smile or when they greet you coolly with a scowl on their face. What a difference between the two types of greetings.
It’s just common sense that we like to be greeted with a smile. It makes us feel more comfortable. It makes us like the other person more. We feel non-threatened. We feel accepted. We feel like it’s a safe place to be when the other person is smiling and in a good mood. We trust someone more when they are cheerful. A side benefit is that we just simply look better with a smile on our face than without one. So smile when you greet others.
Secret Number 3: Exchange Names
Whole books have been written on this subject. Countless articles have covered this subject. We all should know by now that the sweetest sound in the human language is a person’s own name. Secret number 3 is about exchanging names.
You need to get the other person’s name if you don’t have it. If you already have their name then you need to use it. Knowing their name and using their name is an excellent way to make a good first impression. You don’t always have the chance of knowing the names of who you will be meeting. If you already know their name, then use their name in greeting them. If you don’t know their name this is where you get their name.
To get their name, you can say “Hi, I’m James Walker. I don’t believe I’ve met you before.” They will generally give their name at this point. The other person says, “Hi, I’m Natasha Stevenson.” You say, “Natasha Stevenson, that’s an interesting name. Where did it come from?” By repeating it back you do two things. First it helps you remember their name and they like to hear their name. It also helps you to know that you heard it correctly and are pronouncing it correctly. One of the biggest social blunders is to mispronounce someone’s name.
If you are being introduced to a group of people, then one by one go up to each person and smile, shake their hand, give your name and then get their name. Repeat their name back to them. Do this greeting for each one, making a mental note of each name. There are many techniques for remembering names but that’s beyond the scope of this article. The point is to use one of the common name-remembering techniques to remember their names.
Secret Number 4: Dress the Part
Dress for success – we’ve all heard that term. Some people say, “People shouldn’t judge me by how I look. They should judge me for who I am.” That’s nice to say but that’s not reality. People do judge you by how you look. We do judge books by their cover. We wouldn’t even look in a book, let alone buy one, if we weren’t impressed with the cover. So, just like a book, you have to sell yourself on the outside.
It doesn’t take a lot of money to dress nice in my opinion. Maybe some people can tell the difference between a $90 shirt and a $20 shirt. A nice dress shirt that is pressed and in good condition or a nice dress that fits well and looks good on you will make a big difference. It’s really not so much the price of the clothes but the choice of the style and the fit and that it complements you. The way you dress has an impact on other people. If your shoes are scuffed and dirty, people notice those things about you. It tells them a little bit about who you are, your personality, your character. If you look nice, that makes a difference.
Some people can overdo it. They can be very overdressed with their Rolex watches and Armani suites and it’s obvious that that person may have a self-image problem and is trying to over-compensate or over-impress and in most cases it accomplishes exactly the opposite effect. Think about it. When was the last time a Rolex watch really impressed you? These days, for all you know, it was bought in Mexico for $15.00.
I think, within reason, you dress the part. In most situations there are different levels of dress. Obviously there is everything from a jogging outfit consisting of sweats and a t-shirt all the way up to formal wear. You have to judge what is the appropriate dress for the situation, whether it’s formal, nice business casual, casual or whatever.
It has always been my feeling that you should dress slightly one notch above how you think everyone else will dress. The idea is not that you will look ridiculously out of place but that you will simply stand out slightly. It’s much better to be one notch above than one notch below how other people are dressing. It can be very embarrassing to be in a situation where you are obviously underdressed. If everyone else is in a suit and you are in an open-collared shirt, you will feel very out of place and others will notice it too.
Secret Number 5: Show Interest
Secret number 5 is to show interest in the other person. People can’t help but be impressed with someone who is interested in them. It’s human nature. It’s irresistible. We all have an innate, natural, desire built into us to want to feel important. It’s part of being human. When someone shows interest in us it elevates our impression of them. Just like stroking a cat, she’ll hang around for more.
The way you do it is simple. Just notice things about them. If their name is of an obvious ethnic decent or they have an accent or there is something about them that is interesting to you, ask them about it. Be inquisitive.
Yesterday I had a business lunch with three people. Two of them I had never met before. One of them was a woman. She epitomized a lot of what I am saying here. She was very outgoing and friendly. She dressed very nice but wasn’t overdressed for the situation. I noticed she had an accent. It was very intriguing. I couldn’t quite place where the accent was from. So I asked her where she was from. She said, “You mean where I live now or originally?” I said, “Originally. I noticed you have an accent.” She told me she was from Moscow, Russia. So that brought up a conversation where she told me a lot about Moscow and what it was like. She went on to tell me about St. Petersburg and many other things about Russia. All this came from just one little observation and me showing interest in her.
Secret Number 6: Establish Your Credentials
This is the tricky one. Nobody likes “a brag.” We are all turned off by someone who boasts and talks about themselves incessantly. However, there is a point in a conversation where you need to establish who you are and what your credentials are. When I say “credentials” I mean what you do and what your title is. The other person does need to know who they are dealing with. This is something that should be done quickly and without a lot of glorification or fanfare. It should be done in an unpretentious and modest way.
For example, you might say, “Hello, I’m Mark Jones. I’m the IT Manager of XYZ Corporation. It’s my job to see that all the computer systems are running smoothly and efficiently.” A quick establishment of your credentials.
Maybe your credentials aren’t too impressive. “I’m Fred Smith. I’m a sanitation engineer for Waste Management. My job is to collect the excess refuge from each dwelling in the Smithville region.” You’re a garbage collector! You don’t have to glorify what you do. Yes, you want to present who you are in the best light possible but not with an absurdly overblown or embellished description.
Perhaps you don’t have any credentials. Maybe you’re just starting out. You wouldn’t say, “I’m currently unemployed. Nobody wants to hire me because I’m a loser.” You probably don’t want to say that. You should approach it in a better way such as, “I’m currently working on a business opportunity to teach and train individuals in the area of positive persuasion. That’s my specialty, my expertise. That’s what gets me up in the morning. I’m very passionate about this and that’s who I am.”
So find some way of presenting your credentials of who you are and what you do.
Become the Master of Powerful First Impressions
By following these 6 simple secrets you will be able to master and create powerful first impressions. You will see that people respond to powerful first impressions by giving you the respect and attention due any effective leader. You will be able to step out in a bold, confident manner and begin to positively influence and persuade others to your way of thinking.
Remember, if you blow your first impression it may be your last. So take charge of that first sixty seconds and leave a great first impression.