As the saying goes, “You only have one chance to make a good first impression.” This statement holds true in many situations from business meetings to job interviews. How, then, can you make sure you get off on the right foot when meeting someone for the first time? The truth is, it only takes a fraction of a second for someone to form an impression of you, so you need to be on your game right from the start. Whether you are interviewing for a job, meeting a potential client, or welcoming a new team member, here are some tips for putting your best foot forward to make a great first impression.
Arriving early for your first meeting with someone new shows you are punctual and respectful of the other person’s time. It sets the tone for the meeting before you ever even open your mouth. A good rule of thumb is to arrive about fifteen minutes early when meeting someone. After all, “fifteen minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is simply unacceptable.”
Make Eye Contact
Eye contact is one of the most important forms of nonverbal communication. Good eye contact demonstrates respect and is also a good show of honesty. Furthermore, it is difficult to connect with someone when you are looking down, so try to look the person directly in the eye. Maintaining eye contact is also important because it shows that you are paying attention.
Have a Winning Smile
There’s nothing like a warm smile to create a good first impression. A sincere smile puts people at ease and immediately makes them feel welcome. A genuine smile also gives the impression of trust and sincerity.
Present Yourself Appropriately
Physical appearance matters and will certainly be noticed by the other person. After all, the person you are meeting doesn’t know you, so your appearance is the first clue they have to go on. Therefore, make sure your clothing is appropriate for the occasion. For example, dressing too casually for a job interview might imply that you aren’t serious about the job. Whatever the occasion, be sure that your look communicates your best self.
People don’t like having to repeat themselves over and over or answering the same questions multiple times. This makes them feel like they aren’t being heard. At the same time, people don’t like when someone spends too much time talking about themselves. For these reasons, be sure to give the person your undivided attention when they are speaking. Look for opportunities to ask questions about what they said, as this shows you are engaged in the conversation.
Be Mindful of Your Body Language
Your body language communicates just as much as spoken language, so be mindful of your facial expressions, posture, and body movements. When meeting someone for the first time, keep your posture open, so avoid crossing your arms or hunching over in your seat. Refrain from fidgeting with your hands, standing too close, or appearing stiff. These nonverbal cues can make a powerful impression, so be aware of your body language and posture during meetings.
Find Common Ground
You may not hit it off with everyone you meet, but finding common ground can be a great way to connect with someone new. Whether it is a common interest or hobby, a mutual acquaintance, or a similar sense of humor, finding something you have in common can help you form a deeper and more meaningful connection with those around you.