You have only about 6 seconds to make a first impression.
You only get one chance to make that first impression.
Seems a bit daunting doesn’t it? I agree. But it doesn’t have to be like that. With the right preparation, knowledge and a little bit of practice you’ll soon make a wonderful positive first impression every time and possibly even build those initial connections into long-term relationships (I’m talking business here but feel free to apply it to any area of your life).
In an ideal world we would never “judge a book by its cover” but we don’t live in a perfect world thank goodness. It is our prerogative to judge and in return we offer ourselves up to be judged (unless of course you’re a hermit and I bet even a hermit gets judged sometimes). Our intuitive system switches on and gives us a ‘red light or ‘green light’ or a ‘proceed with caution’ when a stranger presents themselves.
Can you imagine the underlying frequency going on at networking events? “Oh look at her, she’s a bit of a mess, looks like one of the kids threw their dinner at her…poor love”. What about the guy who’s working the room thrusting his business card under your nose like you haven’t lived until you’ve got one of his treasured pieces of stationery or the person who thinks a few drinks will make them even more charismatic. Do any of these people inspire you to connect with them?
There is a science to making your first impressions count, but let’s not get too deep and scare the living daylights out of you before you’re even left the house. Let’s face it, it is daunting. You’ve got to hitch on a pair of pants, tidy up your hair and paint on a little bit of lippy (guys, perhaps you want to comb your eyebrows?) all for the sake of walking into a room full of people whom you have never met before. Why the hell would you bother?
I’ll tell you why, because if people see that you’ve taken the time to show up primped and primed I bet they will be more inclined to connect with you. You see, people are smart, they know if you care about your appearance and you’re more likely to care about them too. Is this starting to make sense now?
We’re all in the business of connecting, whether we’re building a business or looking to progress our career.
When first impressions are positive, it creates a good start to any meeting. People are interested in you and will enjoy getting to know you. You will get more out of the event or meeting and you will leave a memorable impression with them – for the right reasons.
Now here’s the thing to keep in mind. It’s not just your physical appearance, it’s also your body language.
Have you ever thought about what you do when you enter a room full of people? You might be frowning or looking for familiar faces, maybe biting the inside of your mouth, even having your shoulders hunched forward which closes you off to connecting. All these actions create the impression you’re not interested in anyone else, you’re not open to meeting anyone new and you’re not willing to engage in conversations. Chances are people will be hesitant to approach you and your networking event will be rather unsuccessful i.e. you may as well have stayed at home (see note about hermit above!).
Imagine now, entering the same room full of people already chatting away to each other. You step through the door, pause. Your shoulders are back – opening you up, your head’s up high – giving you room to breath, you have a smile on your face and a look in your eye which says ‘I expect to have a good time and meet new people.’ Even if you don’t feel like it, you’re there now, why not make the most of it. It’s highly likely you’ll have more fun and you’ll be more fun to be around which is really just another way of saying that people will want to connect with you tiger!
Learn to adjust your body language – from being meek and unapproachable, to being positive, friendly and engaging. If you combine positive body language with a well groomed general appearance – a well chosen outfit, along with tidy hair, make-up and shoes – your first impression will be powerful and positive. As an added bonus you will feel more confident, relaxed and you will truly feel the way you look – awesome!
Do you have some tips for making great first impressions? I’d love you to share them below.