How to Make a Great First Impression

Tips for mastering that first impression

First impressions are everything. When you meet someone new, they've formed their opinion of you within seconds. So make sure it's a good one, so that you have opportunities along the way, whether jobs or new friends.

Whether it's for business or personal reasons, you can make a great impression the first time, and every time you meet someone. We used to think a person had between five and seven seconds to make an impression on another person. But new research suggests it may be closer to only two seconds to make that first impression, said Marian Rothschild, AICI FLC, certified personal image consultant.

Here are tips from a range of experts on how to master that first impression.


Tips to impress

Smile. A big smile is a universal invitation to connect and a great way to leave a lasting great impression because it will communicate your positivity and good attitude. Smiling has proven scientifically to be something that causes postive responses in others. Not only can you cause others to feel more relaxed and think highly favorable of you, it provides certain health benefits as well.

Have a goal. Before you enter a room or meet anyone for the first time, ask yourself, what is it that you want them to “get” about you? What message do you want to send. Then, choose your behavior and your verbal communication in alignment with that message.

Be authentic. Your energy, creativity, and originality will make you memorable and will allow you to truly connect and communicate how you can be of contribution. We live in a world that is filled with fake. Even reality television isn't real. People are attracted to individuals who have self-awareness.

Be interested. Firm eye contact and positive body language that indicates you are into the conversation, and verbal confirmation that you are listening are some of the best ways that you can make the other person feel valued. Women who fail to engage in two-way conversations lead a one way life. Be interested in people by asking reasonable questions. Find things you have in common with complete strangers.

Eye contact. Look someone right in the eye when you speak. Don’t scan the room or look over the person’s head. Look directly at the person you are talking to. Ask the other person open-ended questions that gets them talking about themselves. To keep the conversation going, say something like, “How about you?” or “Tell me more about that!”

Get a grip. Women living and working in America must get a grip on their handshake. Firm grip, three shakes and let go. Introduce yourself with your hand outstretched, ready to shake hands firmly. No wimpy, half hand, dead fish, or wet noodle handshakes. When the other person tells you their name, associate it with something so you'll remember it.

Don't be mean. Women who gossip about, or talk down to women, aren't being classy. It's better to be cordial, encouraging and respectful than mean, catty and unapproachable. Behave nicely, no matter what anyone else does or says, respond with kindness and caring.

Speak clearly, with good volume, pronunciation, tone quality and breath control. Sound intelligent but not boastful or conceited. Ask their opinion. Ask what factors helped form their opinion.

Do your research. Know an interesting fact or information that you can share about the venue, event, business, or the person you are meeting.

Be unique. Do not boast, but share something unique about yourself that will peak the other person's interest. It could be something that happened to you recently that surprised you or that they might find interesting.

Use the person's name. Nothing is sweeter than hearing the sound of your own name. If you use a person's name (formal if necessary) in conversation, it can make the person feel spoken to or about directly in that particualr area of conversation. This can be flattering and very impressive.

Sources: Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew, life coach; Karol Ladd, blogger at PositiveMom; Marian Rothschild, AICI FLC, certified personal image consultant; Tiffany Nielsen, co-author of Incredible Business and The Power of Civility; Lauren McLaughlin, co-minister, UnityNow; and Daniel Amis, professional matchmaker.

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