In a fast paced world where creating a good first impression is key to building trust and relationship, why are so many people still guilty of committing the same mistakes? Whether you’re in a social or professional setting, leaving a good first impression could go a long way in helping you open many doors of opportunities.
No matter how valid your excuse is for turning up late, no one and I mean no one likes a late comer. It is easily misconstrued as a lack of respect for the other person’s time. And in a fast moving world where 24 hours is no longer enough for busy professionals to get work done, a 5 minute delay could feel like eternity. So planning on being early leaves a better first impression than being late.
2. Present yourself appropriately
Beyond appropriate dressing which every professional is fully aware of, do you remember the last time you were introduced to someone with a firm handshake? That initial connection exudes a certain level of confidence that will trigger a similar response from the other party. It’s about being at ease with yourself and knowing who you are. Then, a disarming smile inevitably breaks down barriers of communication as you make yourself friendly and approachable. Maintaining eye contact shows that you’re involved in the communication process and not easily distracted by your surroundings.
3. Ask interesting questions, steer clear of potential minefields
It’s important to have a breadth of topics to talk about. If you’ve polished up on your current affairs, starting the conversation by asking a question rather than making a statement allows you to gauge if the other party is ready to engage. By asking “What do you think of…” rather than “I think that…” displays a level of respect for the other party. Generally, people are not interested to know what you know. It’s just human nature. Then again, sensitive laden questions relating to personal life, politics and religion are better left for subsequent meetings once you have established a certain comfort level.
4. Listen more than you speak
Seek to understand before you can be understood. Active listening is an art in itself. Too often we are uncomfortable with pregnant pauses or awkward silences because we’re busy filling the gaps in the conversation. This presents a danger as we could potentially say the wrong thing at the wrong time, unwittingly. Taking a moment to pause and consider what the other party is talking about bears more weight than being light, smarmy and superficial in our responses. The other party may find you a better conversationalist by just being a good listener.
5. Show appreciation of the person’s time in meeting you
A first meeting should be short and sweet. If you’re out on a date, an hour is enough for you to form an impression if you ever want to see him or her again for the second time. In the professional world, be clear about the objectives of the meeting. Everyone’s busy and time is of the essence. When you show that you are able to stay the course and stay within the time frame necessary to close the deal or start the work rolling, you earn the respect of the other party. Moreover, if you can genuinely show your appreciation for the time spent in the meeting or appointment, you have not just created a good impression of yourself, but the other party will leave the meeting feeling good about himself too!