The Importance of the First Impression
This is a guest post by Ginny Brueggen. She is an apprentice at Rainmakers and a first time blogger.
I am reading a book called The 29% Solution, 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies by Ivan R. Misner and Michelle R. Donavan. To me the book was intriguing, but I didn’t identify with much of the content – that is until I came to week 24: “Make first impressions count.” As I read through the 5-page chapter, I realized how many people lack the skills to make a good first impression. Taking into consideration that it only takes seven seconds for someone to size you up, having skills to make people like you fast are a necessity. Just 7 seconds to be prejudged, predefined and pre-categorized! Is that intimidating to anyone else?
For me the chapter truly struck a chord. I am an 18-year old that just finished high school and is now working in corporate America at a business where making a good impression is key. I have skills in this area that most people my age don’t have because of an upbringing by parents that ingrained in me ideas of respect and character. I know from experience that skills like these come in handy. So what are some of the important elements of making a good first impression?
- Eye contact: Are you avoiding uncomfortable eye confrontation? Do you look off elsewhere during conversations? Make sure eye contact is happening (but not in a creepy way). It’s ok to look away when thinking about something, but when the other person is talking always listen with ears and eyes.
- Facial expressions: What is your face saying? Are you looking interested or obviously trying to come up with an out? People will be looking at your face and if they see you aren’t all that interested, you will be automatically filed in an undesirable category in their brain. Smiling is always an inviting, happy, and natural way to appear likeable.
- Arm movement: Are your arms screaming,“I’m bored” as they are crossed in front of you, or are they being used in a way that says, “I’m interested?” An “I’m interested” look can be achieved by folding your hands together on top of a table while sitting, or having your arms tucked behind you while standing.
- Positioning: Are you facing the person in an open way? Are you blocking out others from the conversation, leaning on something, so as to say, “I’m bored and tired?” None of these things are appealing when talking to someone. Think about good posture and positioning yourself forward as to open up and invite conversation.
These are natural everyday skills that could help you get in the habit of making a good first impression. Remember though, this is only based on 7 seconds of judgement. Other good habits can contribute just as much to impress someone, so don’t rely solely on these skills. Find a trusted friend or mentor that you are willing to let critique you and then take his/her advice. Before you leave the house ask yourself:“What message am I sending to those who are meeting me for the first time?” Take time to think about what could turn off another person, and then do the opposite. Always remember the age-old saying, “You only have one chance to make a good first impression.”