Friday, April 10, 2009

1st Impressions

Do you pay attention? You do more than you think you do. From the DLM Blog:

How To Stand Out and Make a Great First Impression

Posted: 08 Apr 2009 05:17 AM PDT

Do you find it hard to connect with new people? Have you ever come away from an interview, a business meeting or a personal visit, feeling that it just didn’t go quite as well as you hoped?

First impressions mean a lot. Get them wrong, and you lose business and career opportunities, as well as potential friends and contacts. But get them right, and life will go that bit more smoothly.

So here’s your guide to making a great impression on people when you’re meeting them for the first time, or very early on in your relationship.
  1. Remember Their Name
    One very basic step is to be sure to remember the names of anyone new you’re introduced to. If you clearly can’t remember what their name is the next time you meet, you’ll give the impression that you simply weren’t interested. And if you want to get in touch with them in future, you’ll look a bit of an idiot if you ask for “that chap in the third office on the right with a blue dinosaur sitting on his computer”.

  2. Smile and Shake Hands
    Body language is crucial: we make instant, unconscious, judgments about people based on their body language. Just think how you feel when you meet someone for the first time who won’t make eye contact, or who leans in way too close. Two simple steps to appearing friendly and confident are to smile warmly and to shake hands – firmly, but not so firmly that you crush anyone’s fingers.

  3. Show Up On Time
    Another basic but essential step is to always be on time. Being late will create a bad impression before people have even met you – not exactly the best way to get off to a good start. Being prompt shows that you value their time, and that you’re organized. Don’t turn up too early though – appearing at someone’s office half an hour early means you’ll have to sit around until your appointment, and showing up at someone’s house early is not terribly polite: if your hosts are anything like me, they’ll still be running around with the vacuum cleaner...

  4. Pay Attention to Your Clothes and Grooming
    Give yourself enough time to dress in well-fitting, flattering clothes that send the right message. That might mean a suit for a business meeting, casual smart wear for meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time, or something creative and zany when going for that job interview at an advertising agency. Whatever the actual style, your clothes absolutely must be clean. And of course you’d never dream of showing up reeking of sweat, or with greasy hair, but double-check your appearance in a mirror too – spinach between the teeth happens to the best of us...

  5. Take a Small Gift
    In most situations, taking a small gift for the person or people you’re meeting is a lovely gesture. (I wouldn’t recommend it for job interviews, as this would probably come across as a bit weird and could even be interpreted as an attempt at bribery.) How about bringing a box of chocolates for a client’s office when you’re visiting them, or a bottle of wine for your hosts at a dinner party?

  6. Watch Your Language
    Until you get to know people, it’s worth keeping things clean. Don’t tell off-color jokes or use curse words. This particularly applies when meeting older folks, or in a business context: language which might go down fine with the same people after-hours might fall very flat in the office.

  7. Have a Positive Attitude
    Most of us are quickly put off by someone who grumbles constantly. Even if you had a horrendous journey to get to your meeting, or you’ve been suffering with multiple health problems, your new acquaintances don’t need to be told the details. Stay upbeat and cheerful, and people will warm to you.
How do you create a great first impression? What have others done at a first meeting that’s really impressed you?

Written on 4/8/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line ( or check out her website at Aliventures.Photo Credit: freddthompson

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