3 Tips to Make a Good First Impression
We like to say that it’s wrong to “judge a book by its cover.” However, the reality is that your first impression matters.
People make judgments about you all the time, and it doesn’t take them long to form an opinion — only seconds. On top of that, once an impression of you is formed, it’s very unlikely that someone will change the way they feel about you.
Once that impression is made, it’s pretty much the way people think about you going forward.
If you want to make a good first impression, here some things you can do:
1. Enter a Room with Purpose
When you enter a room, do so with purpose. If possible, make sure that all of your unnecessary materials and bags are out of site and that you are set up and ready to go.
Make brief eye contact with the people in the room, and have a smile on your face. Walk with confidence. You want to project the idea that you know why you are in the room. Whether you are making a company presentation or heading into a job interview, you want to convey purpose and ability.
2. Know Your Stuff
Confidence (but not arrogance) is a great way to make a good first impression. However, it’s hard to have confidence when you don’t know your stuff. Plus, you can come across as incompetent when you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Be sure to prepare before you walk into a room. Know the material you are presenting. Read up on the company before you head into an interview. Before you hold a press conference, make sure you have an idea of what you’re going to say.
When you know your stuff, you are seen as knowledgeable. You are more likely to be seen as a good authority. And you are more likely to speak with certainty and be viewed as someone who can handle any situation.
3. Dress Appropriately
Want to make a good first impression? Dress appropriately for the occasion.
The right outfit matters. You don’t want to be overdressed any more than you want to be underdressed. Find out what is appropriate attire for your potential workplace and for your presentation.
You should also pay attention to piercings and tattoos. Sometimes your expression of individuality comes across as striking the right tone for your situation. And you want to show that you understand the culture and what is happening.
You Can’t Undo a First Impression
One of my favorite observations about impressions comes from the Wheel of Time series. At one point, a leader’s guide and mentor points out that how others see you determines their behavior down the road:
How people see you first is what they hold hardest in their minds. It’s the way of the world. You can step down from a throne, and even if you behave like a farmer in a pigsty, some part in each will remember that you did descend from a throne. But if they see only a young man first, a country man, they will resent him stepping up to his throne later, whatever his right, whatever his power.
As you get ready to make a good first impression in your business, during a job interview, when meeting with potential investors, or no matter what you’re doing, keep that in mind.
You want to make a good impression as quickly as possible so that others will remember you as competent and capable.