First Impressions Are Everything
You could have the world’s most expensive suit, looks like Brad Pitt and a smile whiter than white, but if you say the wrong things and miss your opportunity to make a good first impression when you first meet somebody in a business situation, then you can say goodbye to all of your hopes of ever achieving anything…. Ok, that’s going a bit far, but the fact remains that “First Impressions Are Everything”, which is so much more important in business situations than in others.
So, what things can you do to make sure your first impressions are indeed everything? Here are a few tips to help you out:
Stand tall and retain a good posture, which shows confidence.
Smile, which shows friendliness and openness.
If you have an appointment to meet somebody, NEVER arrive late! I repeat – NEVER!
Don’t arrive chewing gum or talking on your mobile/cell phone!
Try not to stand too close to the person, as this can be seen as invading “personal space”.
Try to spend as little time as possible talking about yourself.
Do your best to avoid interrupting the other person, even if they are boring you to tears.
Avoid making jokes the first time you meet somebody.
Dress to impress.
Let’s look at a few more points in a bit more detail:
There is nothing more off-putting than speaking to somebody for the first time that you can hardly understand. Try speaking at a medium pace and make sure, as a non-native speaker of English, that you are well rehearsed in the appropriate phrases to use when meeting somebody for the first time (see the video below).
It is often helpful to practise introducing yourself in front of the mirror and/or record your voice and listen to it afterwards, to get an idea of how clear you sound.
Use the other person’s name as often as you can
This is so vitally important. If you use the other person’s name often whilst speaking, you will instantly establish more of a person relationship between the two of you and show your interest in his/her life.
I am a great fan of quotes and no quote is as true as:
“Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.”
— Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends & Influence People)
Show that you are a good listener
When the person you are meeting is speaking, don’t just stare into the distance and nod your head whilst thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner tonight and what time the football starts. LISTEN very carefully to what is being said and use expressions such as “I understand” and “Oh, really, that’s fascinating”. Retain eye contact and use facial expressions which are genuine and show your interest in the person speaking.
This will take you a very long way!