You don’t get a redo with a flubbed first impression, especially in the modern business world defined by a hyper-fast pace and short attention span.
We meet new faces every day, and you can’t downplay the importance of these first impressions, especially with an important contact or a corporate presentation. Because of the pressure and importance associated with first impressions, it’s easy to become nervous or over think the situation, but paying attention to a few basic concerns about your behavior and physical appearance can help you relax and make a memorable impression.
Whether you’re meeting someone face to face or engaging a group of people, knowing what cues will cause others to form opinions about you in less than 10 seconds can be the difference between success and failure.
This may seem shallow, but your physical appearance and your body language will be the two key factors in how you will first be perceived by others, and keep in mind that the bulk of the first impression will be made in seven seconds, and that impression is unlikely to ever change.
Dress with care, it’s a sign of competency and attention to detail to others, but be wary not to overdress for the occasion. That can also show incompetency–even insensitivity. Furthermore, while it’s important to show individuality, creativity, and originality through your appearance, don’t go overboard, especially in a professional setting. Find out the appropriate dress code (i.e. casual, formal) and craft your creativity within that context. Also, making sure you’re well groomed and appropriately dressed can give you the boost of confidence you need if you’re walking into a situation that may make you a little apprehensive.
Remain open, confident, and relaxed
Your body language can say a lot about your personality and attitude as well, so it’s important to give off a positive, open vibe through your gestures, posture, and body language.
Good posture and a firm handshake will show confidence and assertiveness, which are too highly valued qualities in the business world. Conversely, slouching can be a sign of lack of self esteem and low energy.
Confidence is key to being taken seriously, but appearing open and friendly can’t be undervalued. Your body should face the person you’re speaking to. To ensure the person that you’re giving them your full attention, maintain eye contact, and don’t glance at your watch, phone, or what other people in the room might be doing.
Knowing what not to do is just as important. We all have nervous habits that we begin doing unconsciously. While we may not even be aware of these habits, such as biting our fingernails, crossing and uncrossing our legs, or touching our hair and face, others are, and becoming aware of and controlling these habits is imperative in order to present yourself effectively.
While this may seem like a hefty list of things to be conscious of, the most important tip is simply to be confident, because the majority of these techniques of good-impression making are just symptoms of confidence.