Think of the first time you see a beautiful painting – in that initial moment you are struck with a combination of colors, an image that is processed and created in your mind. People are the same; most people will judge you within seconds of meeting you and sometimes that’s how long you have to make an impression. Also, depending on your level of contact you may only get one shot! Unlike the painting, the first impression is a combination of communication and unspoken gestures, demonstrating how well you present yourself with the following 5 concepts:
- What type of image do you want to convey to the person you’re speaking with? Carefully think of how they will perceive you and what’s in it for them when they speak with you, instead just relying upon your own sense of who you are. One of the most important things to do to give a good impression is to set your intention on building value in someone first, as opposed to promoting yourself to someone before they even really know who you are.
- Practice your ‘elevator speech’ – the story you tell someone in 2 minutes or less, which should change slightly depending on your audience. Keep working on your elevator speech; find ways to talk about yourself and your business in an intelligent, creative, and interesting way. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Be aware of your signals. When you meet someone new, what signals are you sending? Are you pleasant and happy? Are you very serious? Appearing open with a smile can help send the right signal and provide opportunities for you to build a rapport. Remember that many times the best first impressions are created through mirroring the actions and language of the person with whom you’re speaking. What is their body language? What do they seem to value or hold in high regard? Do they have certain things they feel passionately about? By mirroring the person you’re speaking with – modeling your own language and behavior to reflect theirs – you can often create an immediate good first impression. Body language is a crucial part of first impressions.
- Appearance counts. How will the person or people you’re going to speak with be dressed? Will they be in casual wear or in professional business attire? What type of surrounding environment will you be in? Carefully analyze both your own appearance and the environment around you. Find a way to complement the person you’re speaking with by fitting in well into the surrounding environment.
- Avoid bad days. When you’re having a bad day, watch comedy or surround yourself with positive people. Laughter dispels unhappiness and creates dopamine, which in turn elevates your mood and makes you feel happier. If you are in a depressed or anxious mood, others will pick up on this from your facial expressions, comments, and body language. Your mood will rub off on others. When you meet someone important for the first time, be firmly committed to never having a “bad day.”
Be both interested and interesting. If you are truly interested in meeting people and are open to learning about who they are and what they value, then keep up with current events and trends that someone may identify with. Value your time as much as others, because your time is just as important as theirs and vice versa. No one person is more important than another – only their actions at that given time. Understand the power of your first impression, and make your actions in those first few crucial moments the doorway to a lasting and valuable relationship.
– Tim S. Marshall, Author of “The Power of Breaking Fear”
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