Every businessperson knows that first impressions are important, but you may not know just how little time you have to make one. Within the first seven seconds of meeting, people will have a solid impression of who you are and some research even suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness. A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your judgments)*.
In today’s article, I am going to share six tips to help you to capitalize on those first crucial moments when meeting someone in person for the first time.
- Present yourself appropriately – this should almost be obvious but unfortunately, it bears some attention as people will judge you on your looks long before they judge your words or actions. While we all may wish there weren’t expectations placed upon our appearance in terms of professional events, the reality is that there
- Smile – never underestimate the power of a smile as facial expressions are a big part of making a good first impression. Think about it for a moment: how do you feel when someone approaches you with a surly look on his or her face? Are you simply itching to get to know them better or are you looking for the quickest way to exit stage left? A genuine (not cheesy) smile is one of the most memorable features a person remembers after they first meet someone. It has also been proven that the need to make a positive first impression can increase one’s stress level and smiling is a great way to take the edge off.
- The right handshake – is accepted internationally as a professional sign of politeness. However, the handshake is a fine art that can convey confidence or lack thereof. When you are meeting with people whom you trust and have known for years, ask them how they feel after they shake hands with you. You want to walk the line somewhere between a squeeze that comes across as incredibly tight and that dreaded limp fish handshake so it helps to find out where you land on that spectrum.
- Speak clearly – many people have wonderful things to say but they do not speak clearly which often conveys a lack of confidence in the minds of others and sometimes tends to get them overlooked. Portraying yourself in a positive light will give whomever you are meeting a reason to want to listen to you.
- Introductions – if you struggle with remembering someone’s name when you are first introduced here is a strategy to help you to remember it. The intro is a great place to reinforce the name of the person you have just met, but you do not have to make it too When the person you are meeting says, “Hi, I’m Jane”, reply with a simple, “Great to meet you Jane, I’m Sarah” instead of just saying “Hi, I’m Sarah” in response.
- Make eye contact – when you meet someone and make eye contact it conveys that you are both confident and interested in what they have to say. In Western countries, eye contact shows respect and conveys a sense of interest in the conversation. As with most things, do not overdo it. If you do not take a break now and again, too much eye contact could be considered staring, which has negative connotations.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but these six tips should give you a leg up on making a great first impression when you are meeting someone for the first time.
I would love to have you share below if there are more tips you would like to add to this list.
To Your Success!